Clippers-Trail Blazers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 08, 2012
With Chris Paul running the show and Blake Griffin down low, the Los Angeles Clippers feature one of the game's most explosive offenses. Their defensive efforts are also earning some well-deserved acclaim. The Clippers try to build on an impressive result and pick up a rare road win over the Portland Trail Blazers when these teams square off Thursday night. Los Angeles (3-2), which opened 2-0 before suffering back-to-back home losses, regrouped Wednesday with a 106-84 victory over previously undefeated San Antonio. Griffin and DeAndre Jordan combined for 42 points and 21 rebounds while Paul notched his fourth double-double with 10 points and 12 assists. "Chauncey (Billups) gave us a good talking to after the last two games," Jordan said. "We really didn't want to disappoint him. He told us that we took our last two opponents for granted and we didn't come out to play. Tonight we brought more intensity and it helped us." While the Clippers are fourth in the NBA with 104.6 points per game, they're also getting things done on the defensive end. Los Angeles held the Spurs to 41.1 percent shooting and forced 20 turnovers, outrebounding them 46-29. The Clippers are forcing 18.8 turnovers per game to rank second in the league - a huge improvement from last season's mark of 14.6. "We were so successful (Wednesday) because of our defense," Paul said. "When you defend and stop teams, that's when it's fun. If you can defend on a nightly basis in this league you've always got a chance to win. We needed a win like this." The Clippers had dropped six straight road matchups to the Trail Blazers (2-2) by an average of 14.5 points before breaking through with a 74-71 victory Feb. 16 behind 21 points and 14 rebounds from Griffin. Los Angeles, which didn't face LaMarcus Aldridge that night, has just six wins in 32 all-time visits to the Rose Garden. This is the team's first game outside Staples Center this season, although it had a "road" game against the Lakers. Portland is returning home following a disappointing three-game road swing. The Blazers fell to Oklahoma City on Friday before beating Houston in overtime the following night, then concluded their trek Monday with a 114-91 loss to Dallas. Aldridge and Wesley Matthews each had 20 points against the Mavericks but star rookie Damian Lillard was held to 13 on 2-of-13 shooting. The No. 6 overall pick in this year's draft had scored at least 20 in each of his first three games while shooting 47.1 percent, and his five assists Monday were also a season low. "He missed some open looks that he's been making. He saw some pick-and-roll defense," coach Terry Stotts said. "(The Mavericks) were very aggressive in the second half; blitzing and trying to take the ball out of his hands. And we anticipated them doing it. We didn't have necessarily enough time to prepare for it. But, I think more teams will do that and it's one of the adjustments that we need to anticipate." The Blazers, who were limited to 38.7 percent from the field Monday, dropped to 0-2 this season and 4-42 since the start of 2008-09 when shooting under 40.0 percent. Griffin has recorded seven double-doubles in as many matchups with Portland. He's averaging 20.0 points and 13.7 boards in those games. Los Angeles' Jamal Crawford, who put up 14.0 points per contest for the Blazers last season before opting out of his contract, entered Wednesday averaging 24.0 before scoring 10 against the Spurs. He's shooting 52.4 percent after posting a dismal 38.4 mark for Portland. The Blazers are lacking bench scoring, with their reserves averaging a league-worst 12.8 points.
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