Clippers’ Wesley Johnson says matchup with Portland will be ‘tough’

Wesley Johnson

Wesley Johnson/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers


It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that when the Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers square off in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, the backcourt matchup featuring the Clippers’ Chris Paul and J.J. Redick and Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum figures to loom large in deciding the outcome.

Clippers small forward Wesley Johnson is concerned about Lillard and McCollum, among other things.

“It’s going to be a tough matchup,” Johnson said. “Dame (Lillard) and C.J. are playing really well. They show different lineups and their bigs crash a lot on the offensive boards. We have to take them out of what they like to do.”

Game 1 is Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at Staples Center (on TNT).



Wes Johnson tries to explain what happened to Clippers on Saturday

Wesley Johnson

Wes Johnson/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers


The Clippers (40-21) can’t afford to lose home games to inferior teams, what with so much at stake. But after taking a 17-point lead over the visiting Atlanta Hawks (35-28) early in the second quarter Saturday, the Clippers were eventually defeated 107-97.

Clippers reserve forward Wes Johnson tried to explain what happened.

“We had it going, but it just got away from us,” he said. “They are a good team and they went on a run. Transition defense was what really busted it open for them. In the half court, they were moving the ball really well and then like I said, it was just transitions. They had us scrambling and they were knocking down the shots.”

The Clippers trailed by just a point entering the fourth quarter, but were outscored 27-18 in the final 12 minutes, during which the Clippers shot just 30 percent (6 of 20).

The Clippers fell 1 1/2 games behind third-place Oklahoma City in the Western Conference standings.


Five things to take from Clippers’ 103-98 victory over Thunder

Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, left, shoots as Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 2, 2016, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Chris Paul (3) of the Clippers is being defended by Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City. Paul scored 21 points and doled out 13 assists in the Clippers’ 103-98 come-from-behind victory/AP photo by Mark J. Terrill


– This was the Clippers’ biggest comeback of the season. They were down by as many as 22, and by 17 (85-68) entering the fourth quarter against one of the best teams in the league, with arguably two of the top five players in the league in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

– Coach Doc Rivers praised the defense his son Austin played on Durant when he was on the OKC forward. Austin Rivers is listed at 6-foot-4, Durant at 6-9 – though Durant is more like 6-11. Durant scored 30 points, but he shot just 12 of 27, 3 of 12 from 3-point range. The younger Rivers played for the first time in a month, since fracturing his left hand. He is part of the second unit, which also received kudos from the elder Rivers for starting the comeback.

DeAndre Jordan scored 20 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. He also made 4 of 7 from the free-throw line, including both of his attempts in the all-important fourth quarter, when the Clippers were making their comeback. His basket and free throw with 1:12 to play put the Clippers up for good at 99-97.

Wesley Johnson started 1 of 11 from the field. But he hit two clutch 3-pointers in the fourth quarters. The last one – with 4:27 to play – pulled the Clippers within 95-87, cutting the Clippers’ deficit to under 10 for the first time since the 3:41 mark of the first quarter.

– The Clippers played suffocating defense on the Thunder in the fourth quarter, when the Clippers outscored them 35-13. OKC scored just five points over the final 7 minutes and 26 seconds.

BONUS TAKE: The victory pulled the fourth-place Clippers (40-20) within 1 1/2 games of third-place OKC (42-19) in the Western Conference standings.

Banged up Chris Paul scores 40 to lead Clippers to win at Sacramento

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy os Los Angeles Clippers


Chris Paul entered the Clippers’ game Friday at Sacramento nursing several minor injuries, then he got poked in the eye by the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins late in the second quarter.

Battered but unbowed, Paul went on to scored a game-high 40 points on 13 of 20 shooting to lead the Clippers to a 117-107 victory. Paul made 4 of 9 from 3-point range. He also doled out 13 assists, grabbed eight rebounds and made two steals in 36 marvelous minutes. The point guard committed only two turnovers. For good measure, he made all 10 of his free throws.

Recently acquired Jeff Green had his best game as a member of the Clippers (38-20), coming through with 22 points on 9 of 13 shooting – 4 of 5 from 3-point range. He also had five rebounds and started at forward in place of Paul Pierce, who was not with the team because of personal reasons. Green played 31 minutes.

Jamal Crawford contributed 21 points off the bench on 7 of 19 shooting and J.J. Redick scored 16. Wes Johnson struggled again from the field, shooting 2 of 8 while scoring four points. Johnson shot 2 of 11 in Wednesday upset-loss to Denver at Staples Center.

Cousins led the Kings (24-33) with 26 points and 15 rebounds, Rudy Gay scored 23 and Darren Collison had 18 points and five assists.

Collison started in place of point guard Rajon Rondo, who was out with a thumb injury.

Five things to take from Clippers’ 98-92 overtime victory over 76ers

Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul (3) goes up for the shot with Philadelphia 76ers' Nerlens Noel (4) defending during overtime of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Philadelphia. The Clippers won 98-92 in overtime.

Chris Paul goes up for a shot while Nerlens Noel of Philadelphia defends/AP photo by Chris Szagola


– This is the second consecutive game in which Chris Paul got off to a horrible start shooting the ball. He began 1 of 7 and finished 5 of 18, 0 of 3 from 3-point range. He did make 9 of 10 from the free-throw line, doled out seven assists and made four steals. In Sunday’s win at Miami, Paul started 0 of 9 before finishing 8 of 23 from the field.

DeAndre Jordan had a dominant performance inside, pulling down 21 rebounds to go along with scoring 12 points and blocking three shots. Jordan is now averaging 14.0 rebounds and he’s inching closer to Andre Drummond of Detroit, who is averaging a league-high 14.9.

J.J. Redick showed good recovery skills in this game. He started by making just 1 of 9 from the field, but made six of his final nine shots to finish 7 of 18 with 23 points. Redick hit a 3-point basket with 10 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

– The Clippers shot a very poor 36.8 percent from the field, a woeful 22.7 percent (5 of 22) from 3-point range. Wesley Johnson was the worst offender, shooting just 3 of 13, 1 of 7 from beyond the arc. Although the Clippers did well to come back from 19 points down in the second quarter, if they had played anyone other than the 76ers (8-44) – the team with the league’s worst record – they don’t win.

– With Austin Rivers (fractured hand) on the shelf, the bench was not at full strength. Jamal Crawford picked up the slack by scoring 23 points on 9 of 21 shooting in 39 minutes. He also had three assists and two steals.

BONUS TAKE: The Clippers (35-17) are now 18-4 without Blake Griffin (fractured hand).

Five things to take from Clippers’ 100-93 victory Sunday at Miami

Los Angeles Clippers forward Lance Stephenson, right, goes to the basket as Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Miami.

Lance Stephenson of the Clippers goes to the basket as Miami’s Hassan Whiteside defends/AP photo by Lynne Sladky


Chris Paul began this game 0 of 9 from the floor. He went 2 of 15 in the first half. He finished 8 of 23, meaning he made eight of his final 14 shots. Consecutive 3-pointers by Paul down the stretch helped seal Miami’s fate. The clutch baskets no doubt made it easier for Paul to forget his early shooting woes. Paul made a 5-footer for a 100-88 lead with 53 seconds left, for the final nail in the coffin.

– The Clippers did not shoot particularly well. They made 45.7 percent of their field goals overall, 36 percent (9 of 25) from 3-point range. They were not good at all from the free-throw line, making just 51.5 percent (17 of 33). DeAndre Jordan was 3 of 14. But the Clippers still won because they took care of the ball, committing just six turnovers, and because they helped hold Miami to 39.8 percent shooting; the Heat also had 13 turnovers, with Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic making four apiece.

– The bench had another strong showing, outscoring Miami’s 46-25. Jamal Crawford had 20 points, Wesley Johnson scored 10 and Lance Stephenson nine. Johnson and Stepheson both shot 4 of 5, with Crawford going 7 of 19 from the field, just 2 of 7 from beyond the arc.

– Speaking of the bench, Cole Aldrich pulled down 11 rebounds in just 13 minutes and 18 seconds of action. Too bad he couldn’t make his free throws, going 1 of 5 from the line. He had two baskets and scored five points.

Hassan Whiteside entered this game averaging a league-high 4.0 blocks. But Whiteside played his third consecutive game off the bench after he missed the previous six with a hip injury. He played just under 17 minutes – he averages 28.6 – and did not have a block. When Whiteside is on, he can be a dominant force. It was just Friday when Whiteside had 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks for a rare kind of triple double. So for him to have no blocks in this game is kind of a big deal. He did have 10 rebounds to go along with 10 points.