Trail Blazers-Clippers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 31, 2011
Los Angeles couldn't win Chris Paul's first regular-season home game as a Clipper. The Clippers' chances of bouncing back with a victory Sunday night don't appear all that promising. As they continue a four-game homestand, the Clippers will welcome a Portland Trail Blazers team that's seeking its best start in 12 seasons and a sixth consecutive win in the series. Paul, acquired Dec. 14 from New Orleans, debuted Friday in front of his new home fans after the Clippers opened with a pair of road games. The four-time All-Star point guard had 15 points and a season-high 14 assists against Chicago, but the Clippers (1-2) fell 114-101. Fellow All-Star Blake Griffin posted season highs of 34 points and 13 rebounds in the defeat. Los Angeles has allowed opponents to score at least 114 points and shoot 50.0 percent or better in each of its consecutive defeats. "We're going to win games, but we've got to get better defensively," Griffin said. The Clippers might have to get better quickly with Portland (3-0) averaging 106.3 points through its first three games. Three Blazers scored 22 or more during a 111-102 victory over Denver on Thursday that concluded a perfect three-game homestand to open the season. Wesley Matthews led the way with 25 points, including five 3-pointers in the second half. Raymond Felton added 23 points against one of his former teams and Jamal Crawford had 14 of his 22 in the fourth quarter. Portland did commit 25 turnovers - three more than its total from the first two games - but did enough to move within a win of its first 4-0 start since 1999-2000. "We found a way to get a win," coach Nate McMillan said. "You really don't win a lot of games with 25 turnovers. We were just too loose with the ball. There were too many guys trying to do too much, but when we needed to get stops, we made some plays." The Blazers committed only nine turnovers in a 108-93 home victory over the Clippers last Jan. 20, completing a season-series sweep and extending their winning streak versus Los Angeles to five. Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points apiece in that win. The recent signing of Crawford might help Portland continue its dominance, as he averaged 29.0 points on 54.3 percent shooting against the Clippers last season while with Atlanta. Griffin has averaged 20.3 points and 15.7 rebounds in three career matchups with Portland, and tied a career high with 18 boards in the Jan. 20 loss. Paul, hasn't fared as well lately against the Blazers, averaging 11.4 points and shooting 37.9 percent the last seven times he faced them with New Orleans. The Clippers' other major guard acquisition, Chauncey Billups, missed Friday's loss due to a sore groin and his status for Sunday is uncertain. The Blazers have won six of their last seven road games against the Clippers.
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