LOS ANGELES – Chris Paul had 21 points and 19 assists as the Los Angeles Clippers won their seventh straight game, 109-98 over the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden on Wednesday night.
HOW IT HAPPENED
It was a "Tale of Two Pauls" as the Los Angeles Clippers won their seventh straight game and sixth without All-Star Blake Griffin on Wednesday night.
Chris Paul led the team with 21 points, 19 assists and 4 rebounds and Paul Pierce (starting in place of Griffin), scored 17 points including 5-for-6 from beyond the arc for Los Angeles.
"When I'm open I have to make those shots," Pierce said. "Those guys do a good job of finding me when I'm open and I'm able to make them pay."
There was controversy before the game as Portland guard C.J. McCollum was mistakenly left off the active roster before the game. The Trail Blazers organization called the mistake a "clerical error," and urged the referees to allow McCollum to play anyway.
Reportedly, Doc Rivers was given the decision of whether or not to allow McCollum to suit up, and like most coaches, he declined.
"I just know they messed it up," Rivers said after the game. "We made that error twice in the last two years."
McCollum's absence left one less offensive threat to worry about for Paul who sliced through the Trail Blazers defense all night finding center DeAndre Jordan repeatedly on lobs. Jordan had 14 points and 14 rebounds as Lob City took over the state of Oregon.
Without McCollum in the lineup, the Clippers roared out to an early 31-18 lead. By halftime, they had 63 points and had extended their lead to 63-40.
Damian Lillard had 20 points and nine assists for Portland as the Trail Blazers got back in the game in the second half. Mason Plumlee scored a season-high 19 points and the Trail Blazers cut the deficit to 97-91 late in the fourth quarter.
Portland would not be able to get any closer than that however, as both Pierce and Paul helped the Clippers pull away down the stretch and Los Angeles improved to 7-0 since Christmas Day and currently holds the longest active winning streak in the NBA.
Portland cut the Clippers lead to 97-91 with 4:35 left in the game before Paul Pierce hit a huge three-pointer to extend the lead back to nine points. The Clippers would pull away from there.
MVP OF THE GAME
Chris Paul. CP3 tallied at least 10 assists for the fourth time in a row and was just two short of his career-high of 21 set against the Lakers on Nov. 6, 2007.
"CP is more than just a player right now," Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. "He's calling the right play at the right time without me calling it. When you have a guy on your team that can recognize plays that you should run without having to look back (at the coach), that's huge for us."
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Chris Paul surpassed the 15-assist mark for the 81st time in his career, leading all active players.
TWEET OF THE NIGHT
Running backwards is hard.
PHOTO OF THE NIGHT
GIFs count as photos.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"I think that's going to be on ' Shaqtin a Fool' for sure!" – Doc Rivers on Paul Pierce's fall as he back pedaled after hitting a three in the fourth quarter.
Wesley Johnson played despite dealing with a sore right foot. Blake Griffin could return to the lineup as soon as this weekend.
Los Angeles Clippers (23-13, 12-7 on the road) 2nd in the Pacific Division.
Portland Trail Blazers (15-23, 8-8 at home) 3rd in Northwest Division.
The Clippers return home to host the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday afternoon at 12:30 PM PST.
Things don't get any easier for the Trail Blazers who will hos the Golden State Warriors on Friday at 7:00PM PST.