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Blazers’ 100-94 loss to Clippers has playoff atmosphere

Aldridge has big night in loss

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers Writer
Published: January 14, 2015, 4:00pm

PORTLAND — In the fourth quarter, as we’ve come to expect, Damian Lillard turned it on. But there wasn’t enough Lillard Time to make it winning time for the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday.

Lillard scored 12 points of his 15 in the final period. But behind 25 points, 10 assists and six rebounds from Chris Paul, the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Blazers 100-94.

Portland lost despite 37 points and 12 rebounds from LaMarcus Aldridge.

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers went as far as to call the intensity of Wednesday’s nationally televised affair a “playoff-game type of game” with both teams going with short eight-man rotations.

“They’re a lot of fun to get into, you don’t get a lot of those,” Rivers said.

In the Clippers locker room, they had G-funk music blaring from a wireless Beats By Dre speaker. “Keep the beats on,” one player said as the media was allowed in. Jamal Crawford agreed with his coach.

“It definitely did,” Crawford said about the game’s playoff feel.

The other side didn’t see it that way.

“It’s hard for a January game to feel like the playoffs,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said. “Both teams shortened their rotations. Certainly both teams knew that two good teams were going at it.”

The Blazers locker room was quiet and mostly empty after losing a game to a good team at home before facing the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies on the road this weekend.

The Clippers shot 52 percent from the field in the first half and clearly looked like the team with more energy after suffering an embarrassing double-digit loss at home at the hands of the Miami Heat on Sunday.

The Clippers came out hot, but the second quarter has been their demise all season. The Blazers pulled closer thanks to Aldridge’s domination and a little help from Meyers Leonard, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The game was an up and down affair with the Clippers looking to beat the Blazers down the court.

Paul was ran the team, keeping his dribble alive in the middle of the floor as he surveyed his options.

Lillard was quiet for much of the game as the Clippers big men, mostly DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, furiously trapped his pick and rolls. The Blazers perimeter shot failed them shot failed them as they went six-for-26 (23 percent) from 3-point range.

On one sequence in the third quarter, Wesley Matthews, the NBA’s 3-point leader, missed two wide-open 3’s on the same possession. Stotts drew on that possession after the game.

“Those momentum plays are often something that we come up with,” Stotts lamented.

Aldridge had a dominant performance, going to work in the low post on anybody the Clippers threw at him. But Rivers was just fine with the strategy the Blazers employed.

“They’re a big 3-point shooting team. With Aldridge making 2’s and tough 2’s, we can live with it,” Rivers said.

Aldridge had 22 points by halftime and had the whole arsenal going. On one post-up in the second quarter, the Clippers Blake Griffin slipped and fell to the floor moments before Aldridge rose up and knocked down another jumper.

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Fast break points, rebounds, you name it, the Clippers were doing it better than the Blazers in the first half.

But the Blazers put their nose to the grindstone in the second half. They worked harder on the glass. They got to foul line.

Chris Paul showed that he’s still a force to be reckoned with in the fourth quarter as well. Paul scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter.

Paul and his running mate Crawford closed things for the Clippers in the fourth quarter, combining for 20 of the Clippers 28 fourth quarter points.

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Columbian Trail Blazers Writer