The Los Angeles Clippers come to the Rose Garden tonight to take on the Portland Trail Blazers. This will be their first real road game of the season, though technically Coach Vinny Del Negro’s guys were the visiting team when they beat their fellow Los Angeleans the Lakers last Friday.
Chris Paul and company are now 3-2 after besting the Spurs last night 106-84 at Staples. Blake Griffin had 22 points and 10 assists. DeAndre Jordan went for 20 and 11, while CP3 had 10 points and 12 dimes In the impressive victory.
The Clips are only 6-32 in their history at Portland, however they won last year at the Rose Garden, beating an Aldridge-less Blazers squad. 2009 #1 overall pick Blake Griffin has faced Portland seven times in his career and has put up a double-double in each contest, averaging 20 points and 13.7 boards.
The Clips’ Jamal Crawford, who played for Portland last season and opted out of his contract, is shooting 52.4% from the field and averaging 21.2 ppg. He shot a disappointing 38.4 % last season for the Blazers.
If the Clippers are going to be a team to be reckoned with in the Western Conference, they must play with consistency night in and night out. They need to put a five or six-game winning streak together and build on that to show they are maturing as a team and growing together.
The Blazers appear to be playing with a chip on their shoulder, determined to prove that they are a competitive team that is capable of earning the playoff spot that eluded them in the spring. The 2-2 Blazers last played on Monday night in Dallas. The Mavs smoked them 114-91, outscoring Portland 31-12 in the 4th quarter.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews each had 20 points in the defeat. Rookie Damian Lillard, the #6 overall pick in the draft, had a rough game, shooting 2 of 13 and dishing out only 5 assists, a season low. In his first three pro games, Lillard had scored at least 20 points and averaged 9 assists.
Coach Terry Stotts’ bench is averaging a league-worst 12.8 ppg. Portland will definitely need a stronger contribution from the reserves to be competitive tonight.
Tune in to TNT at 10:30 PM ET to watch the Clippers battle the Trail Blazers and to see whether the bloom is off the Rose Garden squad’s longstanding home-court dominance.