(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Clippers are one loss away from matching
their season high and will try to get off the schneid Saturday night against
the Portland Trail Blazers in the opener of a home-and-home series.
The Clippers, who will then host the Blazers Sunday, suffered their third loss
in a row with Thursday's 93-88 setback at Phoenix. Playing without All-Star
point guard Chris Paul for a second straight game because of a bruised right
kneecap, Jamal Crawford netted 21 points off the bench to lead the Clippers.
"We didn't make enough shots when we needed to and we didn't get enough long
rebounds when we had to. We've just got to be a little sharper, especially in
the fourth quarter," Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said.
Eric Bledsoe had 15 points and All-Star Blake Griffin delivered 12 and eight
rebounds for Los Angeles, which has dropped three straight since a four-game
winning streak and is still a decent 3-2 without Paul this season. Paul is out
indefinitely and Griffin is questionable with a balky ankle.
In the midst of playing 14 of 17 games on the road, the Clippers are 13-7 as
the guest and another loss would match a four-game slide from Nov. 21-26.
L.A. is one of the highest scoring teams in the league with 101.2 ppg and one
of the best on defense, allowing 93.4 ppg.
Portland was able to snap a six-game slide its last time out in a 100-80
victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.
All-Star reserve LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points and J.J. Hickson recorded
another double-double (24) with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Rookie Damian
Lillard had 20 points for the Trail Blazers, who shot a season-high 56 percent
from the field against an Indiana squad known for its defensive prowess.
"I thought guys made shots. I thought we set good screens. I thought
everything was good," Aldridge said.
Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews each had 10 points in the win, Portland's
first since a 92-90 triumph over the Miami Heat Jan. 10. Lillard leads all
rookies in scoring (18.3 ppg) and assists (6.6 apg).
The Blazers are 1-3 on a five-game homestand and 14-8 in the Rose City.
Portland lost the first of four meetings with the Clippers by a 103-90 score
on Nov. 8 as Crawford scored 25 points off the bench in that one. The Clippers
were led by Batum's 23 points.
Los Angeles has won three in a row against the Blazers, who have fared well at
home in this series lately with eight wins in the last 12 tries. Portland and
L.A. will meet again April 16 at Staples Center.
The Sports Network