Thursday, April 28, 2016
Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers (25) guards Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) in the first half of game five of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
(The Sports Xchange) – Damian Lillard scored 16 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Portland Trail Blazers earned a 108-98 victory over the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers to take a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference quarter-final on Wednesday at Staples Center.
CJ McCollum had 27 points, Maurice Harkless contributed 19 and 10 rebounds, Allen Crabbe added 11 points, and Mason Plumlee and Gerald Henderson chipped in 10 apiece for Portland.
J.J. Redick had 19 points, while Jamal Crawford scored 17 for the Clippers, who played their first game of the series without the injured Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
Both players were injured on Monday in the Clippers’ Game 4 loss at Portland. DeAndre Jordan collected 16 points and 17 rebounds for Los Angeles.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by McCollum and Lillard, who scored 19 in the second half, put Portland up 102-86 with 4:13 remaining in the contest. The Clippers never recovered.
Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers started Crawford, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year, and Paul Pierce at forward, Jordan at center, and Redick and Austin Rivers in the backcourt.
The Clippers started slow and looked like a group that had played little together in the opening quarter. However, they shook off their sluggish beginning to build an eight-point lead in the second quarter.
The Trail Blazers seized control in the fourth quarter and put themselves on the verge of securing a second-round matchup with the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Game 6 is on Friday at Portland’s Moda Center.
The Blazers trailed 50-45 at halftime, but went on a 10-0 run to open the third period for a 55-50 advantage after a jumper by McCollum.
Lillard, who managed just three points and missed all five of his field-goal attempts in the first quarter, hit his first shot from the floor — a 3-pointer — during the run to give Portland a 51-50 lead.
The Blazers grabbed their largest lead, 71-62, in the third after a dunk by Plumlee with 2:15 remaining.
However, Los Angeles scored the quarter’s final nine points, capped by two Crawford free throws, to tie the score at 71 heading in the fourth quarter.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)