Clippers coach Doc Rivers looks down as he leans on the scorer’s table during the second half of the Clippers’ 108-98 Game 5 loss to Portland on Wednesday at Staples Center/AP photo by Mark J. Terrill
With their 108-98 Game 5 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night at Staples Center, the Clippers are on the brink of elimination as Portland now leads the series 3-2.
Game 6 is Friday at Portland. A Clippers victory would bring the series back to Staples Center for Game 7. It is a tall order, considering the Clippers will again be without their two stars – Chris Paul (fractured hand) and Blake Griffin (partially torn quad tendon).
Clippers shooting guard J.J. Redick was asked post-game Wednesday to talk about the team’s mindset heading to Portland.
“I don’t want to use every cliche in the book, but this is the most important game of the year,” he said. “I guess there is no other way to say it. I don’t want to equate a basketball game to death, but it is do or die.
“We have to figure out a way to win the game and get it back here in front of our home crowd for Game 7.”
Injured Clippers point guard Chris Paul winces after bumping his fractured right hand during a timeout Wednesday in the Clippers’ 108-98 Game 5 loss to the visiting Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center/AP photo by Mark J. Terrill
– DeAndre Jordan did everything he could to try and lead his depleted Clippers to victory. He scored 16 points, grabbed 17 rebounds, blocked three shots and made 6 of 11 from the free-throw line. He had three assists, for good measure. It all just wasn’t enough.
– Jeff Green had his second consecutive solid game in 36 1/2 minutes off the bench. He scored 17 points on 6 of 10 shooting and had six rebounds, two assists and three steals. He had a couple of driving dunks that had the Staples Center crowd buzzing.
– The Clippers helped hold Portland guard Damian Lillard – the team’s best player – to just six points on 1 of 10 shooting through three quarters. But with a Clippers team described by coach Doc Rivers as exhausted from emotion, Lillard went to town in the fourth quarter, during which he scored 16 of his 22 points. Lillard made 6 of 10 from the field in the quarter, 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.
– When Lillard and C.J. McCollum are both on, that’s quite the two-headed monster to try and contain. McCollum had 27 points on 9 of 18 shooting in this one to lead all scorers. McCollum is really smooth and crafty to the basket.
– The Clippers played with plenty of spirit in this game. No one should say otherwise. But when a team is missing its two best players – Chris Paul and Blake Griffin – it’s almost too much to ask for it to emerge victorious. When the Clippers finished the third quarter on a 9-0 run to tie the game 71-71, it looked like they might have a chance to pull off an unlikely win. But Lillard got hot and the Clippers ran out of gas. Game 6 is Friday at Portland. The Trail Blazers lead the series 3-2.
Damian Lillard of Portland goes up for a shot as he is being guarded by Cole Aldrich of the Clippers during Wednesday’s 108-98 Trail Blazers’ victory in Game 5 at Staples Center/AP photo by Mark J. Terrill
Portland’s Damian Lillard had really stunk up the joint through three quarters Wednesday. At that point he had shot 1 of 10 from the field for six points, and his team’s Game 5 against the Clippers was tied 71-71 at Staples Center.
Lillard went off in the fourth quarter, shooting 6 of 10 – 4 of 6 from 3-point range – to score 16 of his 22 points in the quarter. Not coincidentally, the Trail Blazers built as much as a 17-point lead (105-88) with 3:38 to play before settling for a 108-98 victory to take a 3-2 series lead ahead of Game 6 on Friday in Portland.
“I mean, that’s my entire career in the league,” Lillard said post-game. “I’ve always been able to put the first three quarters behind me and come up big when my team has needed it.”
Lillard liked that his fellow Trail Blazers encouraged him.
“All my teammates throughout the game, they just kept saying, ‘Keep shooting, stay with it, stay aggressive, keep your mind right,’ ” he said.
Wesley Johnson of the Clippers defends against Al-Farouq Aminu during the first half of the Trail Blazers’ 108-98 victory over the Clippers in Game 5 on Wednesday at Staples Center/AP photo by Mark J. Terrill
Clippers coach Doc Rivers suddenly found it difficult to speak. Then he began to cry.
Rivers had just been asked who he leans on so he doesn’t get discouraged. It was a good question, considering the Clippers lost their two best players – Chris Paul and Blake Griffin – to injury in a Game 4 loss Monday that tied their first-round playoff series 2-2 with the Portland Trail Blazers.
He was OK, for a moment.
“I don’t know,” he said Wednesday at the pre-game news conference ahead of Game 5 at Staples Center, won 108-98 by the Trail Blazers, who took a 3-2 series lead with Game 6 on Friday at Portland. “That’s a good question.”
Then the tears came, and he managed to push out a few more words.
“I’m not crying over being discouraged,” he said. “(The reporter) made me think about my mom. That would have been the person.”
Rivers’ mom, Bettye, passed away in June of 2015. It sounds like she might have been the first person her son called when the bottom fell out Monday in Portland when Paul sustained a fractured right hand and Griffin aggravated his partially torn left quad tendon. Paul is out four to six weeks, Griffin for the season.
DeAndre Jordan/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers
The depleted Clippers – missing stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin – started 1 of 8 from the field on Wednesday in Game 5 of their first-round series with Portland at Staples Center. They trailed by as many as seven points in the first quarter.
By the time halftime rolled around, the Clippers were able to take a 50-45 lead over the Trail Blazers into the break. The Clippers led by as many as eight points in the second quarter.
DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick scored 10 points apiece for the Clippers in the half with Jordan grabbing 11 rebounds. Austin Rivers had nine points, Jamal Crawford eight and Jeff Green seven.
Maurice Harkless led Portland with 17 points and C.J. McCollum and Gerald Henderson each scored eight. Damian Lillard had only three points, however. He was 0 of 5 from the field.
The Clippers shot 44.7 percent, the Trail Blazers just 35.9 percent.
The series is tied 2-2.
Austin Rivers/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers
With an opportunity to win a series few thought his team could when it began, don’t think for one second that Portland coach Terry Stotts and his Trail Blazers will now relax because Chris Paul (fractured hand) and Blake Griffin (partially torn quad tendon) are out.
Stotts said as much after his team’s 98-84 Game 4 victory on Monday night in Portland. By then, Stotts knew Paul had a fractured hand and he knew that Griffin could not finish Game 4 because he had aggravated his quad tendon, which was originally injured on Dec. 25.
“Two-two,” he said of the series score. “I love the energy that we’ve had defensively the last three games. We have to take that to L.A. But this is the playoffs. You don’t have time to exhale.”
Expect the Trail Blazers to come out hard against the Clippers on Wednesday night in Game 5 at Staples Center. Austin Rivers is expected to start for Paul and Jeff Green is supposed to start for Griffin.