(The Sports Xchange) - Blake Griffin is coming back sometime soon from his quad injury, but until he does, his team mates are making out just fine.
Chris Paul scored 21 points and dished out a season-high 19 assists on Wednesday to guide the Los Angeles Clippers to a 109-98 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center.
J.J. Redick scored 20 points, Paul Pierce added 17, and DeAndre Jordan contributed 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Clippers, who won their seventh consecutive game, the NBA’s longest active streak.
Damian Lillard collected 20 points, seven rebounds and nine assists while Mason Plumlee had 19 points and nine boards for the Trail Blazers (15-23).
Portland was unable to play guard CJ McCollum because of a pregame clerical error in submitting players to be active and inactive. McCollum, who carries a 21-point scoring average, was listed as inactive, leaving him ineligible to play.
The Clippers (23-13) are 6-0 since Griffin left their lineup with the injury. Coach Doc Rivers said he has no timetable for the return of his All-Star power forward, but he likes how the rest of his players have responded.
“We don’t make a big deal about it,” Rivers said. “With 82 games, you’re going to have injuries. No one is going to take over what Blake does, but as a group, we’ve really come together.”
The Clippers built a 23-point halftime lead, then saw the Blazers cut the margin to six points twice late in the game.
“Give them credit,” Rivers said. “They kept playing. They kept fighting and got back in the game.”
”We just didn’t play with energy as a group the first half,“ Plumlee said. ”In the second half, we did.
“We aren’t good enough to wait until halftime.”
Los Angeles shot 50.6 percent from the field, including 11-for-23 from three-point range.
“We’re shooting the ball real well,” Rivers said. “We’re making shots. We’re executing well.”
Paul led four Clippers scoring in double figures before halftime with 15 points and also had seven assists as the Clippers carried a 63-40 lead to intermission. Los Angeles shot 55 percent from the field, making six of nine three-point attempts, and was 13-for-15 from the foul line in the half.
The Blazers trimmed the difference to 70-58 with an 18-7 run to start the third quarter, but the Clippers answered with a 9-2 surge to stoke it to 79-62. Los Angeles was ahead 85-70 going into the final period.
Portland outscored the Clippers 13-4 to open the fourth quarter, drawing within 89-83. Lillard knocked down a three-pointer to close it to 95-89 with 5:30 left, then another three-pointer to get the Blazers within 101-94 with 3:15 to play.
However, Jordan dunked off a feed from Paul, and Austin Rivers converted a layup for a 105-94 Clippers edge. Portland never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.
“Everybody picked their effort up and played with more energy in the second half,” Lillard said. “Had we done that in the first half, it probably would have been a different result.”
The Clippers got off to an 13-4 lead in the game’s first four minutes. With Paul and Pierce leading the way, they took a 31-18 advantage into the second quarter.
Portland trimmed the deficit to 31-23, but guard Jamal Crawford’s four-point play started a 6-0 surge that hiked the advantage to 37-23. It was 59-37 after a Pierce’ three-pointer late in the second period.
Editing by Peter Rutherford