The Los Angeles Clippers started their night scorching hot in their 133-116 win against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Behind a flurry of Paul George buckets, the Clippers made 14 of their first 15 buckets en route to a 47 point first quarter, the most that Portland has ever given up in an opening frame. But the Trail Blazers didn’t roll over; down 26 in the 2nd quarter, Portland rode a wave of CJ McCollum buckets to shrink the lead to seven points by halftime.
But the Trail Blazers, having expended significant energy in making their comeback, could never come closer than within a bucket of the lead. One bright spot on the night was new guard Norman Powell, who led Portland with 32 points on a dazzling array of scoring moves – including a dunk in traffic, a pair of 3-pointers, and a Lillard-esque 14/15 from the free-throw line.
As for Lillard, he had a quiet 11 points on 2/14 shooting while facing constant double teams and pressure from beyond half court.
But defense was again the issue for the Trail Blazers. The league’s 2nd worst-rated defense allowed Paul George and Reggie Jackson to combine for 60 points on 19/30 from the floor.
Up next for the Trail Blazers – they travel to Utah to face the Western Conference-leading Jazz on Thursday.