Blake Griffin Traded, Clippers Fall to Trail Blazers 104-96

In the Los Angeles Clippers’ first showing without freshly traded star forward Blake Griffin, the shorthanded Clippers lost 104-96 to the Portland Trail Blazers.  

“I thought we played hard, we made a run at the end, it was a tough night,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

News broke that the Clippers traded former number one NBA draft pick (2009) Griffin to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for forward Tobias Harris, guard Avery Bradley, center Boban Marjanovic and a 2018 first round draft pick.

“”It was definitely tough to see him go,” said DeAndre Jordan.

Griffin, a five-time All-Star who spent the past seven seasons with the Clippers resigned a five-year contract with the Clippers this past offseason valued at $171 million. With the curtain closed on Griffin, the show went on inside Staples Center Tuesday night as the Clippers were defeated by the Trail Blazers.

“I know how that can be disruptive for the team,” said Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “For us it was a player missing a game.”

Trail Blazers came out to a 6-0 run broken up by a pair of free throws by Danilo Gallinari, who returned to the Clippers’ starting lineup after having missed the previous 25 games. The Clippers managed to keep it close as the Trail Blazers led 30-27 to end the first quarter with a 14 point effort by Damian Lillard.

Through the second quarter the Clippers made defensive adjustments on Lillard, started to trap him and held the All-Star point guard to just two points. Meanwhile, Lou Williams racked up 11 second quarter points for the Clippers.

“We needed Lou [Williams] to be like Superman today and he had one of those nights where he couldn’t make shots.”

Williams was five for 26 from field goal range, yet still contributed 20 points off the bench. At halftime, the Clippers trailed 56-51 as the Trail Blazers shot just 37 percent.

“You have to find way to win the game when you’re not shooting the ball well,” said Stotts.

The Trail Blazers won the game through their defensive performance. Jusuf Nurkic had 14 points and 18 rebounds for the Blazers. With Nurkic’s performance the team was able to notch 18 offensive rebounds.  

“I tried to impact the game in a different way,” said Nurkic who had 7 of those offensive boards.

“This has been like a two-year thing with Portland,” Rivers said. “When they win the offensive rebound battle, they win the game.

It was in the third quarter that Trail Blazers pulled away outscoring the Clippers 30-16. Lillard had 10 points in the third quarter.

“They were trying to trap me,” said Lillard, who scored 28 points, 7 assists and 3 steals. “From that point, I just started trying to manipulate that and just trusting the right guy to make the shot.”

CJ McCollum added 16 points to the Trail Blazers win.

A three-point play by Williams put the Clippers within six points with two minutes of the fourth quarter, 100-94.  The Clippers were restricted to just one field goal in the last two minutes of the contest.

 

L.A. Clippers Unveil Playground at Watts Elementary School

On the corner of 107th and Main Street in Watts, CA, a community plagued with poverty and marred by violence, 107th Street Elementary School has a vision to be an oasis for students and their families, according to the school’s principal Katherine Nelson. The L.A. Clippers Foundation, along with Clippers guard Patrick Beverley and the Yael and Scooter Braun Family Foundation unveiled a new playground at 107th Street Elementary School to help make that vision a reality.

“The vision will be that kids are not just here before school and at recess, but that this will ultimately become a hub for the community to have a safe space to grow and to play and really just to enjoy,” said Nelson.

Four months ago, during a book drive, Nelson shared with donors her goal of bringing a soccer field for her students to play on. When Clippers season ticket holders Yael and her husband Scooter Braun,-  who is the founder of SB Projects and manages popular musical artists including Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and The Black Eyed Peas – found out about Nelson’s goal, they took matters into their own network.

“It’s an actual incredible story about folks working together,” remarked Nelson.

Read More on L.A. Sentinel

Clippers players, Watts Elementary School students and Scooter and Yael Braun cut the ribbon at the Clippers Foundation playground unveiling in Watts, CA. (Photo by Lauren A. Jones/L.A. Sentinel)

 

Clippers Outlast Nuggets to Keep Winning Streak Alive

The Los Angeles Clippers were still reeling from the extracurricular events that took place inside Staples Center on Monday night against the Houston Rockets. Following that game, Rockets players’ Chris Paul, James Harden, Gerald Green and Trevor Ariza allegedly made their way to the back entrance of the Clippers locker room after a less than amicable exchange during the game.

“Everyone talks, you have to just choose not to react,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “To me it’s just white noise.”

In spite of the media frenzy surrounding the team, the Clippers came out to a sluggish start against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night at Staples Center. By the end of the first quarter, the Clippers starters looked near exhaustion but led the Nuggets 29-27.

By the end of the second quarter, the Clippers had committed 13 turnovers that were converted to 23 points for the Nuggets.

“We know we made a lot of defensive errors and gave them a lot of easy points,” said Clippers  Montrezl Harrell, who anchors the team’s second unit better known as the Goon Squad.

The Los Angeles basketball team was outscored 32-21 in the second quarter. Clippers had a nine point deficit at halftime, 59-50.  

“We talked about it at halftime, just playing harder than them for the next 20 minutes and I thought we did that,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said.

The halftime talk was exactly what the Goon Squad needed to spark a 12 point scoring run at the start of the third quarter.

“We rely on them heavily at times,” Griffin said of the Clippers’ second unit. “We were down 10 and they just came in the game and chipped away at it. They were huge.”

“I thought that was the biggest difference in the game,” added Rivers.  

A three-pointer by Lou Williams tied the Clippers up at 79 all in the third quarter. Williams, who is considered a perennial All-Star this season is averaging 23.3 points per game. He had a relatively quiet 17-point night.

Mudiay hit a step-back jumpshot to close out the third quarter. The Nuggets maintained a one point lead, 81-80.

In the fourth quarter, Harrell completed a three-point play to give the Clippers a 90-87 boost. Harrell, who struggled mightily from the free throw line, 6-13 including an airball and bank shot, made up for it with his defensive contributions.

“When they started doing the little hack-a-Shaq thing, I went to the line took a deep breath and shot the ball,” said Harrell. “It happened to roll in because I wasn’t thinking about it I just moved onto the next play. ”  

Down the stretch MIlos Teodosic sunk two free throws to give the Clippers back the lead, 96-94. Harrell had a chase down block on Nuggets’ Mason Plumlee which lead to Wesley Johnson scoring on the other end. It was the Clippers’ biggest lead of the night 105-98 with 1:58 left in the fourth quarter.

Plumlee had 16 points and 14 rebounds. While Gary Harris scored a team high 19 points with 4 assists and 4 steals. The Nuggets had 21 turnovers.

For the Clipper, Griffin had 20 points and 12 rebounds. Harrell added 18 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals on the night.

“Our team in a lot of ways makes no sense, but it does to us if you know what I’m saying,” said Rivers.

The 109-104 win over the Nuggets was the Clippers sixth consecutive victory. Los Angeles is 12-3 in its last 15 games.