Damian Lillard Continues His Struggles, LA Clippers Defeat Portland Trail Blazers 116-86

After suffering two tough losses to begin the season, the LA Clippers have gotten their first win, blowing out the Portland Trail Blazers 116-86 on Monday night. The team was backed by a special shooting performance from Luke Kennard, and when combined with the team’s stellar defense, it was enough to get a blowout win.

Coming into this matchup against the Blazers, there was some concern surrounding the Clippers’ ability to defend Portland’s perimeter attack. The team had struggled in their first two games containing dynamic guard play, and the Blazers have no shortage of it. Despite this concern, Damian Lillard never really got going.

The Clippers took a 56-42 lead into halftime, and that point, Lillard had just 8 points on 3/8 shooting and 0/5 from deep. His co-star CJ McCollum was able to get a little bit more freedom in that first half, pouring in 16 points on 6/14 shooting; however, the Clippers were likely content with the way they defended that duo through 24 minutes.

Fortunately for the Clippers, the 2nd half was more of the same. Lillard finished with just 12 points on 4/15 from the field and 0/8 from deep, while McCollum ended with 20 points on 7/16 shooting. Ty Lue’s ability to effectively show those two guards different looks was successful all night. Eric Bledsoe, Nicolas Batum, Terance Mann, and Justise Winslow all took turns defending Portland’s backcourt duo, and each did a solid job.

As a team, the Clippers forced 30 turnovers which is just the 8th time in franchise history such a mark has been achieved, and the first time since 1996 that the clip was reached. Of the 30 turnovers, 21 were steals, which was the 2nd most in a game in franchise history. A combination of solid defense and sloppy offense from Portland created some historic defensive numbers for the Clippers.

Offensively for the Clippers, it was the Luke Kennard show. As the team wants him to do, Kennard was hunting shots. They tend to go in when he does …

Paul George drops 41 as Clippers coast past Suns 116-102 in Game 5

Paul George had a monster game with 41 points, 13 rebounds and six assists and Marcus Morris chipped in 22 points with as the Clippers sent the series back to Los Angeles with a 116-102 victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 5. Devin Booker led the Suns with 31 points, but shot 9-22 from the floor. Chris Paul also struggled, managing 22 points on 8-19 shooting.

Reggie Jackson and DeMarcus Cousins were vital scoring contributors for the Clippers with 23 and 15, respectively. With Ivica Zubac sidelined, Los Angeles went with a smaller lineup for most of the game and found success.

The Clippers covered the spread at +5.5. The over hit at 214.5. Even with Kawhi Leonard sidelined, Los Angeles continues to strong good team basketball and deliver results.

The Clippers jumped out to a quick 22-10 lead behind Morris’ hot start. The Suns cut the deficit to six on Cameron Johnson’s jumper, but the Clippers held a 44-30 advantage before Phoenix really made a game out of it. The Suns rattled off 12 straight points to make it a 44-42 game and seemed to find their footing. Los Angeles held a 59-52 halftime lead.

The Clippers maintained this distance for much of the third quarter, but went on a 9-2 run to close out the quarter with a 91-78 lead. Los Angeles held its edge early in the fourth quarter, but the Suns went on a 9-3 spurt of their own to cut the gap to 98-94.

It would all Los Angeles from there. Jackson and George were responsible for a 14-2 run to break the game open and Phoenix never got back in the contest.

The Suns committed 14 turnovers, ultimately leading to their downfall. The Clippers also managed to contain Deandre Ayton, limiting him to 10 points and 11 rebounds. Los Angeles will likely continue to go small as the series progresses even if Zubac is healthy.

Game 6 is Wednesday in Los Angeles at 9:00 PM ET…

Paul George, Los Angeles climb back in Western finals with Game 3 win

The Clippers have overcome two separate 2-0 deficits in this postseason, and on Thursday, they took the first step toward doing it for a third time. After falling behind in the first half, the Clippers erupted in the second to win Game 3, 106-92. They will now have a chance to tie the series in Game 4 on Saturday.

Paul George led the Clippers with 27 points, but as has been the case so many times this postseason, it was Reggie Jackson who sealed the win with an incredible fourth quarter. He finished the game with 23 points to help make this a 2-1 series. The Suns, meanwhile, got very little out of their star guard tandem. Chris Paul and Devin Booker combined to shoot a horrific 10 of 40 from the field in the loss for Phoenix.

The Suns hadn’t lost a game since May 27, a staggering nine-game winning streak as they’d run roughshod over the Lakers, Nuggets, and for two games, the Clippers. L.A. fought back on Thursday, and on Sunday, will try to do so again by tying the series at two games apiece. For now, here are the biggest takeaways from Game 3.

A bad day for Phoenix’s guards

The Suns are so deep that they can usually overcome a stroke of bad luck or two. The first two games of this series encapsulated that. Phoenix won both games at home without Chris Paul because Devin Booker was dominant in Game 1 and Cameron Payne played the game of his life in Game 2. Well, let’s take a look at what happened in Game 3:

  • Paul returned to the lineup, but as he hasn’t played in 11 days and may or may not have had COVID-19, he was at the very least rusty. His conditioning and rhythm seemed affected by the layoff.
  • Booker played Game 3 in a facemask after Patrick Beverley head-butted him in Game 2. It would be unfair to attribute his struggles entirely to that mask. Beverley has defended him very well

Paul George rallies The Clippers to Game 5 win over Jazz

Once stunned into silence on a night where the expected outcome had not come to pass, the 18,007 inside the arena had begun to regain their belief, and volume, as Clippers teammate Paul George made free throws to push their lead to seven with three minutes remaining. And as he shot, Beverley waved his arms, signaling for more before the Clippers’ finished an improbable 119-111 victory over the Utah Jazz.

Consider his position: It was hard for the noise to get any louder than what the Clippers had already heard Wednesday, long before tipoff. In the hours after All-Star Kawhi Leonard was ruled out for Game 5 of this second-round series because of a strained right knee that could sideline him the rest of this series, if not beyond depending on the injury’s still-unknown severity, gambling odds tilted toward the Jazz.

A sports-talk radio host in Los Angeles described himself as thankful that order had seemingly been restored — a twisted end to a promising Clippers season. If Phoenix, awaiting the winner of this matchup in the Western Conference finals, had fired up film of the Jazz, it might have been understandable.

Leonard, the all-NBA force who had averaged more than 30 points in this postseason, has been that valuable for the Clippers. But removing him from the lineup did not remove the unshakeable confidence this roster forged through short-handed February nights, a May comeback against Dallas and this June encore against the Jazz. Only seconds after George’s free throws, Terrance Mann drove the baseline against 7-foot Rudy Gobert and dunked over the outreached arm of the three-time defensive player of the year.

The victory stakes the Clippers to a 3-2 lead entering Game 6 Friday in Los Angeles and was as loud as any postseason statement the franchise has made in its recent history. Without Leonard, George led the Clippers in points (37), rebounds (16) and assists (5) to push the franchise one victory away from their first conference final berth and, personally, push back after his …