Clippers' defense finally contains Trail Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge

Clippers' defense finally contains Trail Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge
Blake Griffin is defended by Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge during the first half of a game Wednesday at the Moda Center. (Don Ryan / Associated Press)

The underachieving Clippers bench was even more short-handed than usual Wednesday night.

Coach Doc Rivers drastically shortened his rotation, leaving his team with only three reserves he was willing to use.


It didn't matter because the Clippers still had one Aaron Jamal Crawford.

Crawford broke a tie with a 29-foot three-pointer as the shot clock was about to expire late in the fourth quarter to nudge the Clippers toward a 100-94 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center.

"As soon as I let it go," Crawford said, "it felt good."

Crawford added another jumper and finished with eight of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Clippers rally from a six-point deficit with 6:41 left. Crawford's points represented the entirety of the bench scoring for the Clippers, with fellow reserves Spencer Hawes and Glen Davis combined combining to go scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting.

Point guard Chris Paul collected 23 points and 10 assists for the Clippers (26-13) during what have been their most impressive victory of the season considering it came on the road against a team with an NBA-leading 30 victories and on a night Blake Griffin, J.J. Redick and Paul combined to make only 16 of 50 shots.

"We just hung in there," Rivers said. "It was a gritty, mental-toughness win for us."

The Clippers held Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge to two points in the fourth quarter after he had scored 35 through the first three quarters. They also limited Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard to 15 points on five-for-15 shooting, largely with a swarming attack that included multiple defenders.

"Tonight, we won defensively," said Paul, who helped hold Portland to six for 26 behind the three-point line. "We just tried to run them off the three and make it tough for them."

Crawford was greeted with a few boos when he entered the game in the first quarter to face the team he spent one disappointing season with before joining the Clippers in 2012.

He disappointed Trail Blazers fans again in a different way, making 10 of 22 shots.

Rivers used what felt like a playoff rotation in the first half, with only eight players logging minutes and Crawford playing backup point guard instead of Jordan Farmar. Rivers insisted he did not hold Farmar and forward Reggie Bullock out because of a trade that is expected to bring guard Austin Rivers to the Clippers, saying he just wanted to shorten his rotation.

"I like that at times," Rivers said. "I won't do that every night."

Crawford helped the Clippers maintain a narrow lead in the second quarter by scoring 10 consecutive points. Center DeAndre Jordan added 13 points on six-for-six shooting in the first half to go with 11 rebounds, far exceeding his overall totals (four points, six rebounds) from the Clippers' loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday.

Jordan finished with 17 points and 18 rebounds, making all eight of his shots.


Griffin's bid to become a first-team all-NBA defensive player went somewhat askew during a first half in which he did little to slow Aldridge, who scored 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting. But the Clippers started slowing the All-Star in the minutes that mattered.

"We just kept throwing different guys on him," Rivers said. "Even 'Baby' [Davis] leaned on him a little bit and then Blake had him and then D.J. had him, so it was good."

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