It took six games (and a little bit of luck), but the Portland Trail Blazers were able to escape their first round matchup against the Clippers and now look forward to Golden State, who have been off since Wednesday after beating Houston 4-1. The Blazers eked out a 106-103 win over a severely undermanned Clippers team.
Doc Rivers‘ team put forth an incredibly remarkable effort and kept the game competitive throughout. After one quarter, the teams deadlocked at 24 points apiece. Jamal Crawford had the hot hand all night and finished with seven on 2/4 shooting while the rest of the team combined to shoot 7/17 (41%). Austin Rivers got to start for the second game in a row and was also aggressive in the first, putting up five early points before exiting with a gruesome eye injury. After going after a rebound on one of his missed shots, he got elbowed in the face by Al-Farouq Aminu and wound up getting 11 stitches to close two cuts — it was bleeding so bad that it looked like someone crushed a tomato over his eye. Damian Lillard was the only Blazer who had something working on offense and ended the opening period with 14 points on 6/11 shooting.
Crawford did his best to replicate Lillard’s performance in the first and poured in 15 points in the second on 5/6 shooting and 5/6 from the free throw line. Los Angeles’ field goal percentage inflated to 60% (9/15) and they manufactured 24 points in the period. Jeff Green added six points to his first half total on 3/5 shooting. Rivers returned after getting stitched up but didn’t produce any points. Portland held a slight lead going into halftime after a 26-point quarter. C.J. McCollum (7), Mason Plumlee (6), and Allen Crabbe (6) accounted for 19 of their total points.
Both offenses heated up tremendously in the third and LA was able to gain a slight lead on Portland, 34-30. The injury that Rivers sustained looked like it didn’t bother him at all as he came out and dropped 14 points and four assists in the third; DeAndre Jordan had a large impact as well with ten points on 4/4 shooting from the field (2/2 from the free throw line) and eight rebounds. Lillard, Portland’s snubbed All-Star, came out with another big quarter and had 11 of their 30 points on 3/5 shooting. Maurice Harkless was nearly perfect from downtown for Terry Stots’ squad and drilled 3/4 threes en route to an 11-point quarter.
Shooting 49% from the field, the Clippers held an 82-80 lead going into the fourth.
LA seemed to fall apart in the final period as their shooting dropped to 33%, and they let the Blazers attempt 14 free throws. McCollum had the hot hand for the Blazers and had nine points to lead their 26-point charge; Lillard was 0/3 from the field with just three points. Mason Plumlee had three crucial free throws down the stretch to ice the game: two after being fouled by Jeff Green to extend the lead to 105-103, and one after rebounding Jamal Crawford’s floater that would’ve tied the game.
Crawford had a game-high 32 points on 10/25 shooting, and Austin Rivers had an outstanding performance as well with 21 points, eight assists, and six rebounds. Jordan was a monster on the glass and hauled in 20 rebounds while scoring 15. Lillard led Portland with 28 points, seven assists, and McCollum had 20 points himself.
Game 1 against the Warriors is set for Sunday, May 1, at 3:30 PM EST in Oakland.