Griffin, Clippers hand Blazers 1st loss

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 02, 2012
Blake Griffin had his second straight double-double, Caron Butler scored 19 points and the Los Angeles Clippers opened the new year with a 93-88 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night to snap a two-game skid. Griffin had 20 points and 10 rebounds to go with 17 points by Chris Paul and 13 by reserve Mo Williams in sending the Blazers to their first loss of the season. Jamal Crawford scored 23 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 19 for the Blazers, playing on the road for the first time after opening 3-0 at home. Nicolas Batum added 15 points. They erased most of a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter, but the Clippers hung on to end a five-game losing streak against their Western Conference rival. After allowing San Antonio and Chicago to shoot more than 50 percent in losing their previous two games, the Clippers held the Blazers to 42 percent. The Blazers opened the fourth quarter with six straight points before Williams scored five in a row for the Clippers. Portland used a 16-5 run to close to 81-77 with just more than five minutes left. Crawford and Batum had six points each with both hitting 3-pointers. Paul tossed up an off-balance 3-pointer to beat the 24-second clock and keep the Clippers ahead 84-77. He and Griffin combined to score nine consecutive points and extend the lead to nine points. But the Blazers ran off five in a row, with Crawford making three free throws to get to 90-86 with 1:57 remaining. Aldridge missed an open 3 in front of the Clippers' bench and Butler got fouled, but he missed both and then missed a 3-pointer, leaving the Clippers clinging to a four-point lead with 33 seconds to go. Aldridge hit a turnaround bank shot to leave Portland trailing by two before Paul's driving layup made it 92-88 with 9 seconds left. The Clippers won a crucial jump ball when Paul got the tip from Crawford. Williams was fouled and he made a free throw to seal the win. The Clippers pulled away to lead by 17 points in the third, when they outscored the Blazers 25-16. Williams capped the period with a steal and 3-pointer as the shot clock wound down that sent Los Angeles into the fourth leading 69-52. The Clippers led 44-36 at the break, having held Portland to 33 percent shooting while dominating the paint in the first half. Jordan punctuated the half with a handful of dunks that excited the crowd. Chauncey Billups missed his second straight game for the Clippers because of a sore right groin. Coach Vinny Del Negro was hopeful the 35-year-old point guard could return for Wednesday's game against Houston. NOTES: The Blazers failed to score at least 100 points for the first time in four games. ... The Clippers improved to 5-4 on New Year's Day. ... The Blazers played the first of 18 games this month, tying the most played by them in any month in team history.
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