Clippers finally resemble quality team in 106-102 win over Portland

Clippers point guard Chris Paul sends a bounce pass toward power forward Blake Griffin on a pick-and-roll play against the Trail Blazers.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul sends a bounce pass toward power forward Blake Griffin on a pick-and-roll play against the Trail Blazers.
(Michael Nelson / EPA)

The Clippers finally left behind their alter ego in the young season. There was no more Slob City.

They traded in their unsightly play to resemble the team they expected to be Saturday afternoon at Staples Center, a strong second half pushing them to a 106-102 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

It took Blake Griffin playing through weakness and nausea and J.J. Redick composing himself after a poignant moment with his 11-week-old son before the game for the Clippers to notch their first triumph of the season over a quality opponent.


“I could have gone 0 for 30 tonight and it still would have been one of the top three or four days of my life,” said Redick, who scored 30 points thanks to a pristine 11-for-13 shooting effort.

Griffin wasn’t nearly as accurate, making only eight of 24 shots on the way to 23 points, but his presence meant everything to his teammates on a day he barely had the energy to run up the court.

“Without him,” Clippers guard Chris Paul said of Griffin, “we don’t win this game.”

Paul contributed 22 points and 11 assists and Jamal Crawford added 20 points in his first start of the season for the Clippers, who wiped out a 14-point deficit with a smothering defensive effort in the final three quarters.

Clippers center DeAndre Jordan collected a career-high five steals to go with his six points and 14 rebounds. He was particularly menacing during a third quarter in which the Clippers held the Trail Blazers to 17 points.

Jordan and Crawford trapped C.J. McCollum along the sideline, forcing a turnover. Jordan also blocked a shot by All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, with the ball going out of bounds on Aldridge.

“He was all over the place,” Griffin said of Jordan.

Jordan also snagged an offensive rebound with 8.4 seconds left in the game and the Clippers leading by two points, tapping a missed jumper by Paul out to Crawford. Portland fouled Crawford and he made two free throws to extend the Clippers’ cushion to four points.


Clippers owner Steve Ballmer extended a triumphant arm into the air and exchanged quickie hugs with nearby fans after his team improved to 4-2.

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said he liked that his team had quickened its pace and was getting better energy out of small forward Matt Barnes, who focused on defense and hustle plays in his first game this season off the bench.

Reserve forward Glen Davis also provided a lift in his season debut for the Clippers by taking a charge and embracing Griffin in a bear hug when Griffin fell on top of him.

Griffin said he never considered missing the game even though the team doctor asked him whether he wanted to sit out, and Paul said Griffin “looked like he was about to die” at halftime. Griffin logged 35 minutes after convincing Rivers to stay in the game a few times when the coach had planned to take him out.

Reserve forward-center Spencer Hawes had only one point in 11 minutes, with Rivers disclosing after the game that Hawes was on a minutes restriction because of a strained left foot. He is considered probable for the Clippers’ game Monday against the San Antonio Spurs.

Redick’s shooting precision was a welcome change after he shot only 28.9% through the season’s first five games, including 23.3% on three-pointers. He received an inspirational lift from seeing his son on the court before the infant’s first NBA game.


“A ton of guys have kids in the league and all of that,” Redick said, “but when it’s you and it’s your kid, man, it’s the best feeling in the world.”