Griffin buzzer-beater pushes Clippers over Blazers
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Los Angeles Clippers are doing quite nicely without guard Chris Paul. Especially with forward Blake Griffin playing at a high level and looking at times like Paul, who was traded to the Houston Rockets in the offseason.
Griffin totaled 25 points, eight rebounds, five assists and sank the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer Thursday night as the Clippers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 104-103 to remain unbeaten.
Griffin helped the Clippers improve to 4-0 by taking the 3-pointer off a dribble just before time expired.
“Honestly, I was just trying to get two (points),” Griffin said of the final play, which began with a midcourt inbound play with 5.9 seconds remaining. “I was looking to see if we could get something easy or a quick layup. I was just trying to get a clean shot.
“But as time ticked away, I just didn’t think I could get to the rim in time. I just kind of took what was there. I saw Al-Farouq (Aminu) and somebody hesitate (on defense), so I pump-faked and let it go.”
The shot spoiled Portland’s bid to overcome foul trouble and sluggish offense.
“A great shot,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “Tough way to lose. A very disappointing loss.”
The Clippers had five double-digit scorers, and center DeAndre Jordan grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds to go with seven points.
Guard Damian Lillard led five Blazers in double figures with 25 points. Guard CJ McCollum had 23, and Aminu added 19.
The Clippers improved to 4-0 for the second time in three seasons, capturing their first game outside of Los Angeles.
The Blazers fell to 3-2 overall, 1-1 at home.
Center Jusuf Nurkic’s spin move and basket in the left post gave Portland a 100-99 lead with 1:20 remaining.
Griffin drove on Nurkic for a 101-100 Los Angeles lead on the next possession.
McCollum hit a midrange jumper from the right side, putting the Blazers in front 102-101 with 43.1 seconds left.
The Clippers misfired but got the offensive rebound and an inbound opportunity with 20.3 seconds to play. Lillard was called for a foul on guard Austin Rivers’ drive with 6.7 seconds remaining, but the call was changed to an offensive foul after an officials’ review.
A quick foul put McCollum at the free-throw line, and he sank one of two shots with 5.9 seconds to go.
The Clippers called a timeout and went to Griffin, whose shot went through cleanly.
“Great, great win,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We didn’t play well. The first half was great. The second half we didn’t move the ball.”
Griffin finished 10 of 16 from the field, making 2 of 5 from 3-point range. Austin Rivers and forward Danilo Gallinari had 16 points apiece for the Clippers. Point guard Patrick Beverley and reserve guard Lou Williams each had 13 points.
“This is big for our confidence,” Griffin said. “First road game, and in a place like this. They’re a great team, and the fans were into the game.
I thought we did a good job executing down the stretch. I like our attitude. We’re playing with a chip on our shoulders, playing really hard. We don’t hang our heads.”
The Clippers led 30-24 after one quarter and 62-53 at the half, shooting 51.3 percent to Portland’s 35.3 percent.
However, in a tight game, the largest Los Angeles lead was 10, the lead changed hands 17 times, and the teams were tied seven times.
“I was disappointed with our defense in the first half,” Stotts said. “I liked the way we came back and competed and put ourselves in position to win.”
Lillard and McCollum combined to make 15 of 37 from the floor, going 6 of 12 from beyond the arc. Overall, the Clippers outshot the Blazers 46.8 percent to 39.3 percent.
“Losing at the buzzer is pretty much the worst way to go out,” Lillard said, “especially after you put in an effort like we put together to put ourselves in position to win.”
NOTES: The Clippers have won seven consecutive regular-season games against the Blazers. ... The Los Angeles bench outscored Portland’s 27-11. ... Portland PG Damian Lillard and Los Angeles PG Patrick Beverley have had their contentious moments, but Blazers coach Terry Stotts called it a healthy competition. “Both guys want to get the better of the other, but I don’t think there’s any acrimony,” Stotts said. .. Blazers C Jusuf Nurkic has struggled offensively this season. “Basically, he hasn’t been finishing around the basket and his turnovers are up a little, but it’s a small sample size,” Stotts said. Nurkic had 12 points and eight rebounds Thursday. He was plagued by foul trouble, picking up his fifth early in the third quarter and being limited to 27 minutes. ... Portland was without C Meyers Leonard (sprained ankle).