Damian Lillard’s big fourth quarter helped seal Clippers’ fate

Trail Blazers beat outmanned Clippers 108-98, take 3-2 lead

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.

VIDEO: DeAndre Jordan, Clippers combined for nine blocks in Game 2 win over Trail Blazers

Blocking shots is nothing new to Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. He averaged 2.3 during the regular season, second in the league to Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, who averaged 3.68. Jordan and his teammates combined for nine blocks during their 102-81 victory over Portland on Wednesday in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series at Staples Center. Jordan had three blocks and Cole Aldrich and Jeff Green had two apiece. Here is one of Jordan’s that came during the first half Wednesday. Check it out:

Jamal Crawford, Cole Aldrich have big nights in Clippers’ win at Utah

Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

Jamal Crawford scored 30 points, grabbed five rebounds and doled out four assists; Cole Aldrich scored 21, grabbed 18 rebounds and made five steals; and Paul Pierce scored 18 points as the Clippers won 102-99 in overtime Friday night at Utah.

The Clippers (51-28) did not have the services of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Wes Johnson – all rested. With Austin Rivers sidelined with an ankle injury, that left them with nine players, and they all played.

Pablo Prigioni joined Crawford, Aldrich, Pierce and Luc Mbah a Moute in the starting lineup and scored 13 points while doling out seven assists and grabbing seven rebounds.

Gordon Hayward led Utah (39-40) with 24 points. This loss hurts the Jazz because they are in the eighth and final playoff spot, just one game ahead of Houston (38-41).

As for the Clippers, they have clinched the No. 4 spot in the West and will stay there. They are waiting to see whether they will play Portland  or Memphis in the first round. The No. 5 Trail Blazers (43-37) moved a half-game ahead of the No. 6 Grizzlies (42-37) with the Grizzlies’ loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

Five things to take from Clippers’ 91-81 victory over the Lakers

Clippers center DeAndre Jordan dunks over Lakers center Roy Hibbert on Wednesday at Staples Center. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)

DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers dunks over Lakers center Roy Hibbert during Wednesday’s game, won by the Clippers 91-81/Staff photo by John McCoy


– The first thing that stands out is that Blake Griffin played well in his third game back after missing the previous 45 with injuries and a suspension. Griffin came in having scored a total of just 10 points on 3 of 12 shooting in his first two games back. He scored 13 in this one on 5 of 10 from the field. He also had eight rebounds, three assists, a steal and only one turnover in just under 25 minutes. Griffin had four turnovers in under 17 minutes in Tuesday’s win over the Lakers.

Cole Aldrich, who plays very hard, again made the most out of his time on the floor. In just under 18 minutes, the reserve post scored seven points on 2 of 3 shooting and pulled down 10 rebounds. He also had two assists, two steals and two blocks. He’s not perfect, though, because he did have two turnovers.

– After holding the Lakers to 31.3-percent shooting in Tuesday’s victory, the Clippers again were stingy on defense in this one as the Lakers shot just 35.6 percent, 21.1 percent (4 of 19) from 3-point range.

– The Clippers’ starters wanted to go back in the game in the fourth quarter because the retiring Kobe Bryant was in there until there were just under 30 seconds to play. Coach Doc Rivers nixed that idea. “Doc wasn’t having it,” DeAndre Jordan said. “We were like, ‘Come on, can we go back? Let’s go back.’ But he was like, ‘Nah.’ It was cool just to play against him for these past eight years. It was truly an honor.”

– This was another in a line of recent games where the Clippers’ starters didn’t have to play in the fourth quarter. “It’s becoming a nice trend,” Rivers said. “We like it.” Any rest this time of season is good, as the playoffs begin in about 10 days.

Five things to take from Clippers’ 99-79 victory over Timberwolves

The Clippers' Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, middle, splits the defense of Minnesota's Andrew Wiggins, left, and Ricky Rubio during Wednesday's game. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Luc Mbah a Moute of the Clippers, center, tries to drive through Andrew Wiggins (22) and Ricky Rubio of the Timberwolves during Wednesday’s game in Minnesota/AP photo by Ann Heisenfelt


– The Clippers continued their stingy ways on defense in this one. Not only did they hold the Timberwolves to 79 points, the Clippers held them to just 34.8-percent shooting. The Clippers have now given up an average of just 88.2 points over their past four games – all victories. They also helped harass Minnesota into 16 turnovers while committing just eight of their own.

– Speaking of defensive ferocity, the Clippers blocked nine shots. DeAndre Jordan had three blocks and Wes Johnson, Jeff Green and Cole Aldrich had two apiece. By contrast, the T’Wolves had one measly block. As for Aldrich, he is from Bloomington, Minn., so he was playing at home and he had family in the stands.

– This was the third game of Blake Griffin’s four-game suspension. He will sit out Thursday night’s game at Oklahoma City and will then be eligible to play Sunday when the Clippers host the Washington Wizards at 12:30 p.m. at Staples Center. The Clippers (47-27) are 30-14 without Griffin, who has not played since Christmas because of two injuries and now this suspension for punching a team equipment staffer in January.

– Johnson shot 3 of 6 for the Clippers, which means he has shot 13 of 20 (65 percent) over his past four games. For someone who has been so up and down with his shot this season, that’s a very good sign.

– The hard-playing Chris Paul didn’t shoot particularly well – he was 6 of 16 overall, 1 of 4 from 3-point range – but he still scored a game-high 20 points. More importantly, he doled out 16 assists and also tied DeAndre Jordan for team-high honors in rebounds with eight.

Five things to take from Clippers’ 114-90 victory over Celtics

DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers scores two of his 15 points on this dunk during the first half of the Clippers’ 114-90 victory over the Boston Celtics/AP photo by Mark J. Terrill


Doc Rivers and his players talked quite a bit about the defense the team played in this victory. The Celtics shot just 34.8 percent from the field and much of that was because of that defense. Boston’s Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 24 points, but he shot just 5 of 14 as 12 of his points came from the free-throw line.

– The starters did not have to play in the fourth quarter for the second consecutive game, thanks to a 22-point lead (92-70) after three quarters that quickly grew to 25 at the outset of the fourth. Rivers liked that. “It’s huge, it’s huge,” he said.

Paul Pierce was off to a fine start, scoring eight points on 4 of 6 shooting, when he went down with w right ankle sprain in the second quarter. Rivers said Pierce will be out for “a little bit. We don’t know how long yet.” Pierce also had three rebounds, two assists and a steal.

– The Clippers’ bench had a solid outing, scoring 67 of the team’s 114 points – more than half. Austin Rivers led the reserves – and the entire team – with 16 points. Jamal Crawford scored 15, Wes Johnson 11 and Jeff Green 10. That’s not to mention that Cole Aldrich had six points on 3 of 3 shooting and also pulled down seven rebounds in just under 14 minutes.

– By the time this night was over, it became apparent that there is a chance the Clippers will not be playing Memphis in the first round, as most are expecting. That’s because the Grizzlies lost at home to San Antonio and Portland defeated Sacramento. Memphis is in fifth-place in the Western Conference standings and would place the fourth-place Clippers if the standings don’t change. But the sixth-place Trail Blazers are now just 2 1/2 games behind the Grizzlies. Memphis has eight games remaining, Portland seven. If those two teams switch spots, the Clippers would play the Trail Blazers in the first round. There is little chance the Clippers won’t finish fourth.