Clippers fall two games from playoff spot when Trail Blazers earn 13th win in a row
The hill the Clippers keep trying to climb during this injury-ravaged season is getting steeper game by agonizing game.
They played the 69th game of their regular season Sunday night at Staples Center, losing 122-109 to the Portland Trail Blazers, who extended to 13 the longest winning streak in the NBA.
The Clippers fell into a 16-point hole in the third quarter that deepened to 18 points in the fourth.
They never got a grip on the five Trail Blazers starters who scored in double figures.
All-Star guard Damian Lillard started it off for the Trail Blazers, scoring 14 of his 23 points in the first half. CJ McCollum finished it off for Portland, scoring 15 of his 21 points in the second half.
Throw in Portland’s 48.3% (14-for-29) three-point shooting and it was easy to see why the Clippers were fighting an uphill battle all game.
“I just thought we got flat out outplayed tonight,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Listen, when you play a team that’s on a streak, you know you got to deal with it because they’re playing well. You could see they were riding that. They were riding energy. They played last night and you couldn’t tell. I thought they played harder than us, which I don’t say very often.”
In losing their third consecutive game, the Clippers lost more ground in their bid to gain a spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
After playing their third game in four nights, the Clippers are now in 10th place, two games behind the Minnesota Timberwolves, who currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference. The Denver Nuggets are in the ninth spot, half a game ahead of the Clippers.
“I don’t care how many games we have played in how many nights,” said Austin Rivers, who had 15 points,. “At this point, man, we just got to win games. I don’t care if we got to play five games in five nights. We just got to win games. Everybody is tired right now. Everybody is bruised. Everybody is trying to play catch up. Us, Timberwolves, the Nuggets, all of us are fighting for that eighth spot. New Orleans. We’ve dropped a couple of games in a row. We’ve got to get it back going. That’s it.”
The Clippers started their NBA-high 32nd different starting lineup, re-inserting guard Milos Teodosic as a starter and putting sixth-man extraordinaire Lou Williams back with the reserves.
Williams was a big factor for the Clippers, scoring 30 points.
Montrezl Harrell had 24 points off the bench.
But it was a tough night for Tobias Harris, who had only 11 points on five-for-14 shooting.
The Clippers have 13-regular-season games remaining, four of them coming this week on the road against playoff-bound teams. They start the trip Tuesday night at Minnesota.
“Nothing should deflate you,” Doc Rivers said. “You can lose and still be a game out in the West right now, and we are. We go up to Minnesota and win and we’re right back in the hunt. I hope it deflates us tonight. But by tomorrow, we should be fine.”
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