The Los Angeles Clippers headed to Oregon on Tuesday night to face off against the Portland Trail Blazers in what very well may be a preview of the 2012 NBA playoffs. The Trail Blazers were a perfect 5-0 at home heading into the game, while the Clippers had not won in Portland in some time. The Clippers ultimately saw their three-game winning streak come to an end as they played shakily and sloppily en route to the 105-97 loss.
Los Angeles fell behind by 11 points early but battled back to take a 26-24 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Blazers soon opened up another lead and led 54-47 heading into halftime.
The Clippers managed to battle back in the third quarter and get to within five, 76-71 in the final minute of the frame. Portland got another bucket and Mo Williams missed a three-pointer near the buzzer. The final quarter started with Los Angeles down by seven.
The Clippers closed to within five points again midway through the fourth quarter, 82-77. Reggie Evans got a huge offensive rebound and Chauncey Billups nailed another three to bring the Clips within a basket. There were then a pair of quick fouls against the Clippers and Portland was back up 86-80. Chris Paul did not get foul call when he needed one, the Blazers got an out of bounds call and suddenly a three-pointer had the Trail Blazers back up by nine points once again. When Blake Griffin finally got a foul call, he badly missed both free throws. He got a dunk shortly after on a turnover, which was only his 16th point of the night.
Portland led by eight points with two and a half minutes left in the game. Gerald Wallace drained a three-pointer to put the Blazers up 99-90. Billups drew a three-point foul but missed his first free throw. It was his first missed free throw of the year after making his first 28 straight. He sank the second two to bring the score to 99-92 in favor of Portland with 1:08 left.
Paul got a steal and a layup to bring the game within five, but fouled Raymond Felton immediately, seemingly by accident. Felton made one of two and Portland was up six with 44 seconds to go. Billups went for a three-pointer but got an offensive foul call for kicking the defender while shooting.
The Clips got the ball back and Billups drove for a score and one with 26 seconds left, with Wallace fouling out on the play. Los Angeles had cut the score to 100-97 with a 20-second timeout left and enough time for a play. The Clippers again fouled inexplicably, with Wesley Matthews sinking both of his throws. They took their final timeout with 22 seconds left and down by five. Griffin went for a layup and had the ball stripped, more or less spelling the end for the Clippers.
The Clippers certainly appeared to be getting fouled all night without calls, while the Blazers were getting a multitude of calls going their way. Still, they were disjointed all game, playing sloppily and foolishly. They made infuriatingly bad decisions late in the game with a tie within reach. They fouled at the most inopportune times and absolutely could not finish on the floor. DeAndre Jordan in particular looked lost all night.
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