After a gut-wrenching Christmas Day loss against the Golden State Warriors, that had at best questionable and frustrating refereeing, the Clippers looked to rebound in a tough game against the Western Conference’s best team in the Portland Trail Blazers. The Portland Trail Blazers’ top-ranked offense has achieved balance beautifully, specifically the starting unit, which is five points better per 100 possessions than the team’s league-leading mark. Portland’s half-court game is fundamentally read-and-react. Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge embody the midpoint between script and ad-libbing. Both are temperamentally half-court players. Lillard is more powerful than explosive, and much of his game is predicated upon working off the jumper. He gets a fair number of those shots off drag screens or pull-ups on the secondary break, but Lillard is happiest working in the pick-and-roll and coming off flare screens.
The Clippers, playing the second of a back-to-back, mounted a challenge after trailing by as many as 11 points early in the second half. Blake Griffin had 35 points and 11 rebounds, while Chris Paul finished with 34 points and 16 assists. LaMarcus Aldridge had 32 points and 10 rebounds and the Blazers held on for a 116-112 overtime victory over the Clippers on Thursday night. The Blazers have won seven of their last eight games and they’ve dropped just two games at home this season. Portland clung to a 114-112 lead with 13.4 seconds left and padded it with Wesley Matthews‘ foul shots. Paul missed a 3-point attempt as time ran out.
After an extremely frustrating loss for the Clippers Wednesday night at the hands of Golden State (and the referees) this lost has to be incredibly exasperating as the Clippers have exonerated a great deal of energy over the past two games and put forth so much effort only to find themselves on the short end of the straw two straight nights. This quite possibly could have been the most difficult games on the Clippers’ schedule thus far in the season, and while the Clippers played incredibly well, their effort went for not as these games appear as losses on their record.