The Clippers were bound to make a push and it came early in the third quarter. Chris Paul carried the team, like he has for much of the season, scoring nine points and dishing out an assist in the frame. Portland started fouling, as well, and that gave authentic jerseys wholesale
Los Angeles’ offense a boost. Going into the final period, the lead that the Trail Blazers had worked so hard to build had mostly evaporated. They were just up three, 70 67.
Neither team could get separation in the fourth quarter. The Clippers managed to take the lead but the Blazers responded quickly. They traded buckets until the final minutes, with neither offense getting quality looks. DeAndre Jordan misses some key free throws, giving the Blazers the stops they needed to finally get an edge. Portland simply executed better and hit enough free throws late to get the win.
Now the series will have to go back to Los Angeles for a Game 5. If the Trail Blazers continue to play like they did on Saturday, it might go the distance.
3 things we learned from the Blazers’ close win
When Lillard and McCollum are cooking, the Blazers can beat anyone
Lillard and McCollum had been contained beautifully by the defensive game plan Doc Rivers had designed. Basically, the Clippers sent extra men their way while leaving shooters open, daring anyone else to beat them. Any shots McCollum and Lillard got were typically of the contested variety. The strategy was so effective that the two shot below 35 percent from the field in the first two games.
What separates Portland’s guards from other scorers, however, is that they can make tough shots. Lillard has the range and the ball handling to be Stephen Curry lite and McCollum is as crafty as any player in the league. They figured out ways to get just enough room to pull the trigger in Game 3. The Trail Blazers will need him to continue to play like this if they hope to make a comeback in the series.
Blake Griffin is still not fully back
Blake Griffin showed signs of rounding to form in Game 2. He had a coast to coast drive that resulted in free throws and a huge dunk late. With two days of rest before suiting up again, it was not crazy to expect him to be close to fully back for Game 3. Unfortunately, it might be a while before he finds his rhythm, if his performance on Saturday is any indication.
His stat line was decent, as he finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists. He simply didn’t look like himself out there and couldn’t really exert his will on a matchup that should be favorable to him. His shot wasn’t there and neither was his explosiveness. Even his mobility on defense wasn’t as good as it usually is.
Griffin is still helping the Clippers but if they advance, they will need more from him to beat the Warriors in a potential conference semifinals series.
Redick has been huge this season, especially in the games Blake Griffin missed. He’s a core player and the Clippers needed him to provide scoring to offset the barrage that was coming from Portland’s backcourt. On Saturday, he just couldn’t do it and that was a big reason why the Clippers couldn’t get a 3 1 lead.
Redick had five points on 10 shots and couldn’t make his mark on defense ether. Jamal Crawford stepped up and delivered some bench scoring from the shooting guard spot but it simply wasn’t enough. If the Clippers want to advance, they will need their marksman to go have good games for the rest of the series.