NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, December 26th (All times Eastern)
Los Angeles Clippers (20-10) at Portland Trail Blazers (23-5), 10:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Clippers won't have a long time to get past their intense Christmas night loss as they venture up the west coast to meet the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday.
The Clips fell 105-103 to the Golden State Warriors Christmas night in a matchup that featured two ejections and several skirmishes.
Clippers star forward Blake Griffin was ejected after picking up two technical fouls in the second half. Golden State forward Draymond Green was shown the door at the conclusion of the third quarter for throwing an elbow in the throat of Griffin and Warriors center Andrew Bogut was issued a flagrant foul for grabbing Griffin.
Andre Iguodala missed two free throws with 9.3 seconds left. Chris Paul then had his layup blocked from behind by Klay Thompson with a second left, and after an inbounds play, Jamal Crawford's 3-point shot came up short.
Right after the final horn, Paul grabbed the ball out of Bogut's hands and the two exchanged words. Matt Barnes then shoved Bogut from behind, and coaches and players for both teams jawed at each other.
"I thought we were kicking their butt and they went to something else," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "We have to have better composure and keep playing. I thought the basketball part we were showing them pretty well. All the other stuff, it worked in their favor. It was a smart thing for them to do."
Paul led the way with 26 points and 11 assists, followed by Griffin, who had 20 points and 14 rebounds before he was tossed. Crawford managed 19 points and DeAndre Jordan registered a double-double with 13 points, 13 boards and six blocks.
Darren Collison scored 11 off the bench.
Things don't get easier for the Clippers. They will face a Portland team which is tied for the best record in the NBA and, at 11-2, owns one of the best home marks in the league.
The Blazers have won six of seven and still have not lost consecutive games all season. After a 120-109 drubbing at the end of a long road trip in Minnesota, Portland returned home Saturday and held off the New Orleans Pelicans, 110-107.
The Blazers led 101-93 midway through the fourth before New Orleans pulled in front. Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum all scored late and Ryan Anderson and Tyreke Evans each missed potential game-tying treys in the closing seconds.
"We're learning that if we get stops down the stretch and we take care of the ball, we can win games," said Portland big man LaMarcus Aldridge.
Lillard dropped 13 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter. Aldridge and Matthews netted 18 points apiece in the win, while Batum filled the stat sheet with 11 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Portland will welcome the two-time champion Miami Heat on Saturday night.
The Clippers took three of four matchups last season, but they are 2-7 in their last nine in Portland.
12/26 10:27:05 ET