(The Sports Xchange) - The Los Angeles Clippers did not just lose Game 4 of their first-round playoff series with the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday at the Moda Center. They lost their point guard, leader and best player, too.
Chris Paul left the game in the third quarter of the Trail Blazers’ 98-84 victory with a right hand injury and did not return. X-rays showed a fractured third metacarpal.
He might be sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs.
Al-Farouq Aminu scored 30 points — a career high for both the regular season and the playoffs — as the Blazers evened the best-of-seven series at two games apiece. Aminu made 11 of 20 shots from the field, including six of 10 from 3-point range.
The 6-foot-9 forward also had 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.
CJ McCollum scored 19 points, and Mason Plumlee contributed two points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists for Portland.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin had 17 points and seven rebounds before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a sore left quad. Jeff Green added 17 points off the bench for Los Angeles, and Paul scored 16.
Aminu scored 13 points and Plumlee had two points, nine rebounds and five assists to stake Portland to a 47-43 halftime lead.
Paul scored 14 points and Green added 10 for the Clippers, who shot 33.3 percent from the field and were outrebounded 31-21 in the half. He left with his injury with the Clippers trailing 58-52.
Green nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to narrow Portland’s advantage to 66-64 after three quarters.
The Blazers outscored the Clippers 11-4 to start the fourth quarter go ahead 77-68. The difference was 84-72 with 5 1/2 minutes to play. The Clippers got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Portland jumped to a 12-4 lead, with Aminu scoring eight of the points. The Blazers led 20-12, with Paul scoring all of the Clippers’ points.
To that point, Paul was 6-for-6 from the field, his team mates 0-for-13. The first non-Paul field goal by the Clippers came on a DeAndre Jordan dunk with 1:43 left in the first quarter.
The Blazers took a 24-20 advantage into the second quarter despite 6-for-22 shooting and four combined points from Damian Lillard and McCollum.
Allen Crabbe’s 3-pointer gave Portland a 34-26 lead midway through the second quarter. The Clippers countered with a 10-3 run to get to within 37-36. The Blazers intentionally fouled Jordan, who airballed both free-throw attempts.
Portland scored the next five points to go on top 42-36, and the Blazers carried a four-point advantage into the half.
Editing by Peter Rutherford