PORTLAND — The Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers came together to give fans an ending as dramatic as could be Thursday night at the Moda Center for a national TV audience.
Forty-eight minutes wasn’t enough for the teams to settle the score in this Wild West Showdown.
However, it was the Blazers who were the last man standing with the smoking gun as they outlasted the Clippers 116-112 in overtime.
“It was a good win for us, obviously over an elite team in the west,” said head coach Terry Stotts. “We just keep finding ways to win games. We make it interesting at times but that was a terrific game and glad to get a win.
A Jamal Crawford three-pointer tied the game with 4:51 left and it was back-and-forth from that point on with each team exchanging blows.
Chris Paul put the Clippers up by three with nine seconds left in regulation but a Nicolas Batum three-pointer off a screen with 5 seconds left tied it right back up. A Paul midrange jumper rattled off the rim at the buzzer sending the game into overtime.
“I had a great shot to win the game there, we shouldn’t have even been in overtime,” said Paul who had 34 points and 16 assists.
In the extra period, it was Portland’s MVP candidate who took over as LaMarcus Aldridge scoring seven of his 32 points to go along with 10 rebounds to help get the win.
DeAndre Jordan got his sixth foul with 3:32 left in the overtime leaving the Clippers without their starting center.
LaMarcus Aldridge was a game-time decision before tonight’s game after getting his wisdom teeth removed on Sunday. His cheeks were a little swollen, but his game was just as good as it’s been all season.
The Blazers were sparked in the first half by Mo Williams, who hit three three-pointers in the first half to help the Blazers get going offensively. Williams scored 12 points and dished eight assists on the night in just over 23 minutes of play.
While Williams’ contributions can be vary from great to atrocious, he gives the game a different feel every time he is on the court and tonight he helped get the Blazers going early on.
For Terry Stotts who coached Williams earlier in his career in Milwaukee, there isn’t a better back-up point guard in the NBA.
“That second unit was very productive in both halves and he (Williams) had a lot to do with it,” said Stotts. “I think he’s the best back-up point guard in the league and we’re lucky to have him.”
The Blazers had to grind it out and they ran into a buzz saw with the Clippers two best players, Griffin and Paul, combining for 69 points between the two.
“Chris Paul and Blake (Griffin), they are going to do their thing,” said Robin Lopez who scored 11 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. “So I think we did a really good job of contesting their shots when they miss, got the rebound. When they scored, getting the ball and just pushing it.”
The Blazers were able to win the game despite the fact that the Clippers made an effort, with Chris Paul on him, to take Damian Lillard’s pick and rolls out of the game.
“It seemed like game plan was to take Damian out of pick and rolls which is a big part of our game,” said Terry Stotts. “So, it opened up LA for a lot of looks and the weak side. I thought Damian showed great patience with that.”
The Blazers went to Aldridge in the post with regularity and more of the playmaking and pick and roll duties fell on the shoulder of Batum who also hit the biggest shot of the game.
“We really tried to involve Nic in the pick and rolls,”said Stotts. “Chris Paul is a great defender and he can really muddle up plays if he is involved in it defensively. So, getting Nic involved was very important for us in certain stretches of the game.”
The Blazers maintain the league’s best record and face the defending champion Miami Heat on Saturday night at the Moda Center.
• Neither team shot particularly well in the first half, despite both teams being in the top-five in the league in offensive efficiency. The Clippers started an appalling 7 of 28 and missed their first seven three-point attempts.
• Wesley Matthews was Portland’s leading scorer at the break, with 11 points. The Blazers were up 47-46 at halftime.
• The Clippers bounced back a little bit offensively. Blake Griffin, who was ejected from Wednesday’s game at Golden State, scored 12 points in the first half on five-of-nine shooting. Paul led the Clippers in scoring with 15 points at halftime.
• Damian Lillard was hit with a technical foul in the final minute of the first half.