Los Angeles Clippers keep on cruising without Blake Griffin

By Kerry Eggers, The Sports Xchange  |  Jan. 7, 2016 at 10:57 AM
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PORTLAND, Ore. -- Blake Griffin is coming back sometime soon from his quad injury, but until he does, his teammates are making out just fine.

Guard Chris Paul scored 21 points and dished out a season-high 19 assists Wednesday night, guiding the Los Angeles Clippers to a 109-98 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center.

Guard J.J. Redick scored 20 points, forward Paul Pierce added 17, and center DeAndre Jordan contributed 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Clippers, who won their seventh consecutive game, the NBA's longest active streak.

Guard Damian Lillard collected 20 points, seven rebounds and nine assists while center Mason Plumlee had 19 points and nine boards for the Trail Blazers (15-23).

Portland was unable to play guard CJ McCollum because of a pregame clerical error in submitting players to be active and inactive. McCollum, who carries a 21-point scoring average, was listed as inactive, leaving him ineligible to play

The Clippers (23-13) are 6-0 since Griffin left their lineup with the injury. Coach Doc Rivers said he has no timetable for the return of his All-Star power forward, but he likes how the rest of his players have responded.

"We don't make a big deal about it," Rivers said. "With 82 games, you're going to have injuries. No one is going to take over what Blake does, but as a group, we've really come together."

The Clippers built a 23-point halftime lead, then saw the Blazers cut the margin to six points twice late in the game.

"Give them credit," Rivers said. "They kept playing. They kept fighting and got back in the game."

"We just didn't play with energy as a group the first half," Plumlee said. "In the second half, we did. ... We aren't good enough to wait until halftime."

Los Angeles shot 50.6 percent from the field, including 11-for-23 from 3-point range.

"We're shooting the ball real well," Rivers said. "We're making shots. We're executing well. (Paul) is being more than a player. He is calling the right play at the right time without me calling it."

Paul led four Clippers scoring in double figures before halftime with 15 points and also had seven assists as the Clippers carried a 63-40 lead to intermission. Los Angeles shot 55 percent from the field, making six of nine 3-point attempts, and was 13-for-15 from the foul line in the half.

The Blazers trimmed the difference to 70-58 with an 18-7 run to start the third quarter, but the Clippers answered with a 9-2 surge to stoke it to 79-62. Los Angeles was ahead 85-70 going into the final period.

Portland outscored the Clippers 13-4 to open the fourth quarter, drawing within 89-83. Lillard knocked down a 3-pointer to close it to 95-89 with 5:30 left, then another 3-pointer to get the Blazers within 101-94 with 3:15 to play. However, Jordan dunked off a feed from Paul, and guard Austin Rivers converted a layup for a 105-94 Clippers edge. Portland never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.

"Everybody picked their effort up and played with more energy in the second half," Lillard said. "Had we done that in the first half, it probably would have been a different result."

The Clippers got off to an 13-4 lead in the game's first four minutes. With Paul and Pierce leading the way, they took a 31-18 advantage into the second quarter.

Portland trimmed the deficit to 31-23, but guard Jamal Crawford's four-point play started a 6-0 surge that hiked the advantage to 37-23. It was 59-37 after a Pierce' 3-pointer late in the second period.

NOTES: Clippers G Chris Paul notched his fourth consecutive game with at least 10 assists. ... Los Angeles G DeAndre Jordan had his 20th double-double and his sixth in a row. ... Portland coach Terry Stotts said he is not surprised by the Clippers' record without F Blake Griffin because of the presence of their All-Star point guard. "I have that much respect for Chris Paul," Stotts said. "This gives him more responsibility. He is great at orchestrating an offense." ... F Wesley Johnson played for the Clippers despite a bout with plantar fasciitis. He came off the bench for five points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes. ... The Blazers beat the Clippers 102-91 Nov. 20 in their last meeting at Moda Center, a day after Los Angeles dropped a home game against the Golden State Warriors. The Clippers had three days off going into Wednesday's meeting.

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