ChrisHaynes, CSNNW.com NBA & Trail Blazers Insider
Portland,Ore. The Portland Trail Blazers clawed back within four pointsfrom a 25-point deficit against the Los Angeles Clippers, but formerTrail Blazer Jamal Crawford made sure that would be the extent as theClippers barely pulled off the win on the road 103-90.
TheClippers (4-2) shot 53 percent for the game and this victorycompletes a back-to-back sweep.
Crawfordhad 11 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter. Every timethe Trail Blazers made a run, Crawford was there with a pull-upjumper to stop the bleeding.
WhenCrawford first entered the game late in the first quarter, hereceived a rash of boos. He said when he heard those rumblings ofdispleasure, he just took it and grinned.
Ismiled, actually. I smiled, Crawford said. Because anybody whowas a part of what happened last year, I think deserves to get booed.I don't have any hard feelings for the fans here. I took less to comehere. I just wanted to get out here and get a win and that's what wedid.
Lastseason, the Trail Blazers experienced one of their worst years infranchise history from players quitting on coaches, to a head coachgetting fired that resulted to a miserable 28-38 record.
Forthose negative marks, Crawford says he expected this type of ovation.
Nah,I kind of expected it, Crawford said when asked if he wassurprised. I told my fiance I kind of expected it and she said 'Nothey're not' and I said 'Nah, trust me.' I had a feeling they thoughtI was behind coach (McMillan getting fired) and all that stuff.
Tonightwas almost a feel-good story for the Trail Blazers (2-3) starring NicolasBatum. Again, he started the first half on a bad note going 2-for-10from the floor and Chris Paul was having his way with rookie DamianLillard, scoring 13 points on 6-for-8 from the floor.
Batumsays he went to Terry Stotts at the half and said he wanted Paul. Thescore was 60-39 in favor of the Clippers. Batum got his wish.
Batumhounded Paul, denied Paul the ball, and disrupted his passing angles.After his defense was on point, his offense picked up going 4-for-8from the field while collecting nine free throw attempts all in thesecond half. His play pulled the Trail Blazers within four with 7:28remaining in regulation, but that was the closest it got before theClippers pulled away for good.
Iwas very disappointed in the way we played, Stotts said. Theway we competed in the first half, but the second half was what weneeded to do every time we are on the court.
Thepower forward matchup of Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge wasn'tas advertised. Aldridge won the individual battle, but the numbersweren't appealing. Griffin finished with seven points on 3-for-9 fromthe field to go along with 10 rebounds, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 14points on 7-for-17 from the floor with four rebounds.
ChrisPaul versus Damian Lillard had its moments. Paul finished with 21points and six assist and Lillard ended the game with 16 points andsix assist.
Heruns his team, so it was obviously a tough matchup, Lillard said.But like I said, I'm going to come out and be myself every game.
TheTrail Blazers three-game home-stand shrinks to two with the SanAntonio Spurs coming up on Saturday. The Clippers gave them theirfirst loss of the season on Wednesday night and the Trail Blazershope to duplicate those results.
Wejust got to get ready for the next game now, Batum said. Thisgame is over. We'll learn and move on and get prepared for SanAntonio.