Trailblazers Visit the Clippers
By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com
A short week before the Christmas festivities ensues, the Portland Trailblazers bring their 16-13 record into the Staples Center to play against the 17-12 Los Angeles Clippers. The Trailblazers are led by the backcourt tandem of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. As you can see by the records of these two teams, they come into this matchup evenly matched.
Not only are these teams evenly matched, but they also have a lot of familiarity with one another. Clippers Guard Lou Williams and Blazers forward Evan Turner were teammates in Philadelphia, Clippers Forward Danillo Gallinari and Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic were teammates in Denver, and Clippers Foward Tobias Harris were teammates with Blazers Forward Maurice Harkless in Orlando. More importantly the Clippers come into this game intent on breaking their 3-game losing streak.
Trailblazers CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic explode out the gates with 11 quick points apiece in the first quarter. However, Tobias wasn’t to be outdone, as he scored 14 of his own to help the Clipper keep pace. Though the Clippers limited Damian Lillard to 5 points and they still ended the quarter down by 8 points.
The energy of Montrezl Harrell was the spark that the Clippers needed to get back in the game in the second quarter. In fact, his 10 points and 4 rebounds led both teams in either category. Danillo Gallinari chipped in an additional 7 points for the Clippers that gave them a 2-point lead at the half.
Though Harris shot 5 of 7 from the field and Gilgeous-Alexander added 7 points to lead the Clippers in the 3rd quarter. Damian Lillard didn’t wait until the 4th quarter to turn it on against the Clippers as he put 22 points in the quarter on the 5 of 5 shooting from behind the 3-point line. Shooting 70% from behind the 3-point line as compared to the Clippers 33.3% shooting also contributed to the Blazers closing the 3rd quarter with a 12-point lead.
Igniting the Clippers most games is Montrezl Harrell. His tough gritty style of basketball earned him a reputation of being a spark plug for his team. Tonight, was no different, though Harrell was ejected midway through the quarter for a flagrant 2 penalty on Jusuf Nurkic, who was giving him the business with 20 points and 7 assists. Nonetheless, Lillard’s 39 points pushed the Trailblazers to win, as he closed the game out late in the quarter.
This being their 4th consecutive loss, I thought fans would want to know if the team talks about their positioning in the standings, so I asked Clipper Head Coach about this, he responded with an emphatic, “NO!” “It’s too early… and it doesn’t matter at this point.” He also mentioned about it would be “a little past the All-Star break is when you take stock of where you are,” when they would discuss their records or playoff positioning.
Now that Head Coach Doc Rivers gave us a time frame of when to expect to see the best from this team, I am eager to see the development process of this young Clippers team throughout this season. They have slipped in the standings in recent weeks, yet I would expect them to maintain their playoff seeding.
Please let me know your thoughts on what you think the Clippers ceiling is this season, by commenting in the comment section of this article on www.whatsgoodinsports.com or @whatsgoodinsports on Twitter.