Blazers pull away from ailing Clippers

Thu Apr 28, 2016 2:41am EDT
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(The Sports Xchange) - The short-handed Los Angeles Clippers simply ran out of gas.

The toll of losing Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the emotions it extracted and a fourth-quarter scoring binge by Damian Lillard were too much for the Clippers to handle Wednesday.

CJ McCollum had 27 points, and Lillard scored 16 of his 22 points in the final period as the Portland Trail Blazers earned a 108-98 victory over the Clippers to take a 3-2 lead in a Western Conference quarter-final matchup on Wednesday at Staples Center.

"Like they turned their energy up in the beginning of the third (quarter), and we were exhausted," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "I had to call two timeouts. You could just see it. That's not conditioning, that was emotion."

Maurice Harkless contributed 19 points and 10 rebounds, Allen Crabbe added 11 points, and Mason Plumlee and Gerald Henderson chipped in 10 apiece for Portland. Plumlee also grabbed 15 rebounds.

However, it was Lillard, sinking four of six 3-point attempts in the final period, who allowed the Trail Blazers to seize control and put themselves on the verge of securing a second-round matchup with the defending champion Golden State Warriors.

"That's my entire career in the league," said Lillard, who finished 7-for-20 from the floor and 5-for-10 on 3-pointers. "I've always been able to put the first three quarters behind me and come up big when my team has needed it.

"You know, all my teammates throughout the game, they just kept saying, 'Keep shooting, stay with it, stay aggressive, keep your mind right,' and I would have been doing that all along, but it was -- it felt good to have that encouragement and that support, especially with them trapping so high out."

J.J. Redick had 19 points, while Jamal Crawford scored 17 on 6-of-23 shooting for the Clippers, who played their first game of the series without Griffin and Paul.   Continued...

Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers (25) dunks past Portland Trail Blazers center Ed Davis (17) in the first half of game five of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports