Blazers hand Clippers 4th loss in row

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 27, 2013
Nicolas Batum had 20 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 12 assists for his second triple-double in a week and the Portland Trail Blazers handed the Los Angeles Clippers their fourth straight loss with a 101-100 victory on Saturday night. The Clippers, playing without guard Chis Paul for the third straight game because of a bruised right kneecap, trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half but reclaimed the lead in the fourth quarter. They held off the Blazers until Wesley Matthews pulled Portland within 100-99 with a layup and free throw. J.J. Hickson made a pair of foul shots to give the Blazers back the lead with 45 seconds left and Jamal Crawford missed a 19-foot jumper for the Clippers with 0.9 seconds left for the final margin. Blake Griffin had 24 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for the Clippers, just shy of his third career triple-double. The Clippers are 3-3 in the six total games Paul has missed because of his kneecap. Eric Bledsoe once again started in the All-Star guard's place. There was uncertainty before the game about whether Griffin would play because of a sore left ankle. He tweaked it early in the Clippers' 93-88 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Thursday. Portland was coming off a 100-80 victory Wednesday night over the Indiana Pacers that snapped a six-game losing streak. The Blazers' victory against the Pacers also snapped a four-game losing streak at the Rose Garden. Forward LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points against Indiana and the next day was selected as an All-Star Game reserve. He will join Paul and Griffin on the West team for the game on Feb. 17 in Houston. The Clippers pulled ahead 15-9 early, but Portland pulled in front briefly after rookie Damian Lillard's 3-pointer and Jared Jeffries' dunk made it 16-15. Portland reclaimed the lead to go into the second quarter ahead 25-22. Aldridge's layup and free throw put the Blazers ahead 33-25. But the Rose Garden crowd stood when rookie Will Barton threw down Ronnie Price's fast-break lob to make it 38-25. Portland maintained a 51-45 advantage at the break. The Clippers came out with more urgency to start in the second half and Caron Butler's 3-pointer narrowed Portland's lead to 59-52. But Los Angeles really began to close the gap late in the third quarter when Jamal Crawford's 3-pointer pulled them within 80-74. Hill's 3-pointer and Matt Barnes' layup pulled the Clippers within 84-83 with 8:54 left in the game. Jamal Crawford hit a pair of free throws to give Los Angeles its first lead since the first quarter, but it was short-lived and Batum hit a 3-pointer for the Blazers. Portland clung to a narrow lead until Matt Barnes' tip-in, Griffin's hook and Crawford's short jumper gave the Clippers a 94-89 lead with 4:46 left. Batum had his first career triple double on Monday in Portland's 98-95 loss to Washington. He had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Notes: The Clippers have been without guard Chauncey Billups since Dec. 5 because of tendinitis in his left foot. Billups, Del Negro said, is improving, although there is still no timetable for his return. ... DeNegro said he thought Clippers sixth man Jamal Crawford - who played for the Blazers last year - should have made the All-Star team. Crawford is averaging 16.7 points and playing starter's minutes (29.3 per game) with the Clippers. ''Obviously I'm biased,'' Del Negro said. ''Jamal has been fantastic for us.''
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