Blake Griffin, Clippers lose opener to Trail Blazers
Final score: Portland 98, Clippers 88
The Blake Griffin era dawned brightly in L.A. on Wednesday night, but by the second half, darkness had fallen and the Clippers lost to the Portland Trail Blazers, 98-88, in front of an announced 18,382 in Staples Center.
Griffin, the Clippers' No. 1 overall draft pick before last season who missed what would have been his rookie year after injuring his knee, thrilled the crowd in the first half with high-flying dunks and fierce rebounding. But he was largely quiet in the second half as this Clippers team, like so many before it, couldn't sustain the kind of play necessary to become a playoff contender. Not on this night, anyway.
Griffin had 13 points on six-of-nine shooting in the first two quarters, with seven rebounds, four of which were offensive, and seemed to have enough energy to light all of L.A. for Halloween weekend. But he scored only two points in the third quarter and finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
The Clippers opened the fourth quarter with Griffin on the bench and went missed shot, turnover, foul on three straight possessions. That helped Portland take a 74-71 lead before the Clippers bounced back with Randy Foye, Rasual Butler (with a three-pointer), Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman all scoring to put the Clippers back on top, 80-76, with 8:08 to play.
Griffin returned to the game with 8:08 to play, and all five starters were back on the court shortly thereafter, but the offense stalled and Portland pulled to an 82-80 lead with six minutes to play. The Clippers continued their desultory play and Portland took advantage, running off to an 89-80 lead capped by LaMarcus Aldridge's three-point shot as the shot clock expired with 3:48 to play.
The Clippers couldn't make a game of it after that, experiencing one-shot possessions and sending Portland to the free-throw line repeatedly in the closing minutes.
All five Trail Blazers scored in double figures, led by Brandon Roy with 22 and Aldridge with 19.
Gordon led the Clippers with 22 points. Kaman, who never got his shot working, missed 14 of 18 shots and finished with eight points.
-- Mike James
Photo: The Clippers lose to the Portland Trailblazers on Wednesday. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire.