Trail Blazers Cruise Past Clippers, 96-83 : Pro basketball: Without two starters, Portland has little trouble as James Robinson plays key role.

From Associated Press

The Portland Trail Blazers were without guard Rod Strickland and forward Clifford Robinson, but it didn't matter. They were playing the Clippers.

James Robinson, starting his seventh consecutive game since Clyde Drexler was traded, scored 18 points as Portland won, 96-83, Monday night.

No Clipper scored more than six field goals. The top scorer was Pooh Richardson with 14 points, as the Clippers dropped to 0-5 this season against Portland. Tony Massenburg added 13 points, eight in the first quarter, and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Strickland, who had a total of 29 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in three victories last week, rested a bruised right shoulder and Clifford Robinson sat out his second game in a row with a sprained right ankle.

Buck Williams had 17 points and 13 rebounds for Portland, while Terry Porter, starting his first game this season, had 13 points and a season-high nine assists.

Without Strickland, the Trail Blazers relied on the backcourt trio of Porter, Robinson and Steve Henson. Henson played 20 minutes and had six points and four rebounds.

In the second and third quarter the Trail Blazers held the Clippers to 17 and 18 points, respectively, and the Trail Blazers built a 72-58 lead by the end of the third period.

"We played real solid defense, especially the first eight minutes of the third quarter," Portland Coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "When we needed something we did it."

Strickland suffered a minor bruise to his right shoulder against Utah on Friday, but should be ready for Thursday night's game with the Charlotte Hornets.

"We didn't find out until the last second that (Strickland) wouldn't be able to play," Carlesimo said. "With 40 points out of the lineup, that's a lot to make up."

The Clippers were in it for only a short time in the first quarter, but James Robinson's early three-point basket set the tone.

Clipper Coach Bill Fitch said, "I regard Rod Strickland as part of the top echelon of point guards, but when James Robinson and Terry Porter came out and hit all of their early shots, it was clear they were showing that they, too, can play as well as (Strickland and Drexler). They have players who have been there and know how to win."

Porter's seven third-quarter points helped the Blazers build a 66-46 lead, their biggest of the game, with 4:21 left in the period.

The Blazers held a 72-58 lead after three quarters, but Loy Vaught's layup at 9:09 closed the lead to 76-67.

Portland then went on an 8-0 run and boosted the lead to 84-67 with 6:45 left.

Portland led, 48-40, at halftime.

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