LOS ANGELES [AP] — The Clippers are still figuring things out even while they’re piling up wins.
Their latest came with the bench outscoring the starters, 66-51.
Montrezl Harrell scored 26 points, Paul George added 25 and Los Angeles pulled away in the second half to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 117-97 on Tuesday night.
“The best thing about this team is we’re not near where we’re going to be,” coach Doc Rivers said.
Kawhi Leonard had an off-night offensively, scoring 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting, but still helped extend the Clippers’ franchise-best start at home to 13-1.
“He set the tone with his passing,” Rivers said. “Early he tried to get everybody else going and then he tried to get himself going.”
CJ McCollum scored 20 points, Hassan Whiteside had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Damian Lillard added 16 points on 5-of-15 shooting for the Blazers, whose three-game winning streak ended.
Carmelo Anthony had nine points and six rebounds two weeks after signing with the Blazers in his return to the NBA. Lillard and Anthony were held under their scoring averages.
The game was tied 10 times in the first half before the Clippers eked out a 62-59 lead at halftime. The Blazers shot 52% in the first half; the Clippers shot 50%.
“At halftime we didn’t make any adjustments,” Rivers said. “We said something’s going to give. We either start defending or we’re really going to have a tough night.”
The Clippers outscored the Blazers 27-17 in the third. Portland’s shooting dipped to 26% while McCollum had five points and Lillard two in the period.
“Just imposing our will on the defensive end of the floor, causing havoc that led to us scoring a lot of points,” Harrell said.
George and Leonard took over to start the third. They each hit 3-pointers and George had a steal and a dunk to go with a free throw from Leonard as part of a 14-3 run that gave the Clippers a 76-62 lead.
The Blazers answered with seven straight points to trail by seven. Harrell dominated the rest of the quarter, scoring nine points in the Clippers’ 21-7 run over the end of the third and start of the fourth that extended their lead to 96-76.
“They basically got what they wanted in the second half and we didn’t have an answer,” McCollum said.
George tied his season high by making 6 of 7 3-pointers, some arcing like rainbows on their way into the net. As a team, the Clippers made 17 3-pointers on 34 attempts, with Patrick Patterson scoring 15 of his 19 points on 3s.
“It just shows how deep they are, how many guys they can turn to and how much production they get across the board that Patrick Patterson can come in and have a big night and Montrezl Harrell can come in and have a big night, Lillard said. “When you double-team or you trap and they kick it out, they’re throwing the ball out to guys who can play.”
Patterson and George connected on back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth before George and Leonard sat down for good with 3:57 remaining.
Trail Blazers: Gary Trent Jr. (right hamstring strain) missed his fourth straight game. … They had won six of their last eight against the Clippers, including two of three at Staples Center.
Clippers: JaMychal Green (tailbone contusion) sat out after getting hurt on Sunday.
The Blazers waived Pau Gasol two weeks ago and he’s returned to his native Spain. But he’s still got a future with the team.
Coach Terry Stotts said Gasol will join the Blazers’ coaching staff at some point in the future.
“He’s a Hall of Fame guy, he can be a mentor to all the players,” Stotts said. “He can speak to a lot of different players about a lot of different things.”
Gasol never played a game with the Blazers while recovering from surgery on his left foot in May.
Trail Blazers: Host Sacramento on Wednesday in the second game of a back-to-back that also opens a four-game homestand.
Clippers: Visit Milwaukee on Friday to open a six-game Eastern swing, tying their longest road trip of the season.