The Los Angeles Clippers are one of the few remaining undefeated teams in the NBA and will look to stay that way when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday. The Clippers, who traded away franchise cornerstone Chris Paul over the summer, are dominating at the defensive end and entered play Wednesday leading the NBA in scoring defense at an average of 88 points.
Los Angeles easily breezed past a pair of high lottery teams - the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns - in its first two games but had little trouble knocking off a playoff contender in its first chance on Tuesday, pulling out a 102-84 win over a Utah Jazz squad that knocked it out of the postseason last spring. “I think it was important for us, after two games that weren’t really close down the stretch, to be tested a little bit,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin told reporters. “I thought we did a good job of maintaining our composure and getting stops when we needed them.” The Trail Blazers are a tough team to stop and are averaging 112.8 points while shooting 44 percent from 3-point range. Portland wasn’t at its best on offense against New Orleans on Tuesday but showed off its skill at the other end by holding the Pelicans to 39.5 percent shooting in a 103-93 win.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, FS Prime Ticket (Los Angeles), NBCS Northwest (Portland)
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (3-0): Keying Los Angeles’ defensive effort is center DeAndre Jordan, who enters play on Wednesday leading the NBA in rebounds (18.3) and came out on top in a battle with one of the game’s best defensive centers in Utah’s Rudy Gobert on Tuesday. Griffin is also taking on a bigger role with Paul gone and led the team in scoring in each of the first three games. The 28-year-old power forward handed out a season-high six assists on Tuesday and is 8-of-18 from 3-point range while averaging 26.7 points and 9.7 rebounds.
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (3-1): CJ McCollum led the way with 23 points in Tuesday’s win and was one of five players to score at least 12 points. “I think one of the positives after four games is we’ve had different guys have a game,” Portland coach Terry Stotts told reporters. “If you go through each game, we’ve had different guys, whether a starter or a bench player, come in and contribute. That’s a sign of a good team that different guys come in and help you win games.” Reserve power forward Ed Davis took his turn stepping up with his first double-double of the campaign (12 points, 10 rebounds) on Tuesday.
1. Trail Blazers PG Damian Lillard was a season-worst 3-of-16 from the floor on Tuesday.
2. Clippers PG Patrick Beverley is averaging 3.3 steals.
3. Los Angeles took all three meetings last season after losing to Portland in the 2016 playoffs.
PREDICTION: Clippers 106, Trail Blazers 102