Five things to take from Clippers’ 96-88 loss to the Trail Blazers

Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, right, is fouled by Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Saturday, April 23, 2016, in Portland, Ore.

Chris Paul of the Clippers is fouled by Portland’s Damian Lillard during the first half of the Trail Blazers’ 96-88 victory over the Clippers on Saturday in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series at Moda Center in Portland/AP photo by Craig Mitchelldyer


– One of the biggest reasons why the Trail Blazers won was because their outstanding guard tandem of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum played to their capabilities after struggling in losses to the Clippers in Game 1 and Game 2. Lillard scored 32 points on 10 of 20 shooting and went 9-for-9 from the free-throw line. McCollum scored 27 points on 11 of 22 shooting. Each had five rebounds.

– It was more than that. For another thing, the Trail Blazers outrebounded the Clippers 56-44. Leading the way was center Mason Plumlee. He had a whopping 21 rebounds to go along with nine assists and six points. The Clippers got 16 rebounds from their center, DeAndre Jordan. Blake Griffin had only seven.

– The Clippers led 85-81 with 3:52 to play after a 3-point play by sixth-man Jamal Crawford. They scored only three points the rest of the way. During that time, the poor free-throw shooting Jordan went 1 of 6 from the free-throw line, finishing 3 of 10 from there. “Our execution was bad tonight,” coach Doc Rivers said of his team’s play down the stretch.

– This was not a good game for Griffin. The Clippers’ power forward scored 12 points and shot just 5 of 16. At times, his shot was short, hitting the front of the rim. “He just had a tough night,” Rivers said. “Again, you don’t miss three months of basketball and come back and be great.”

– As a team, the Clippers shot 40.9 percent – 16.7 percent (3 of 18) from 3-point range. Rivers gave credit to the Portland defense. “I thought they did a great job,” he said. “I think they were way more physical than us. I thought ball pressure got to us.” Shooting guard J.J. Redick, who is nursing a sore left heel, shot 2 of 10.

BONUS TAKE: The loss notwithstanding, Clippers point guard Chris Paul continued his fine play. He led the Clippers with 26 points on 10 of 21 shooting, doled out nine assists and made three steals.

LASTLY: The Clippers lead the series 2-1. Game 4 is Monday night, back at Moda Center in Portland.