Clippers Close Out Regular Season With Loss At Portland
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Will Barton had a career-high 23 points and 10 rebounds and the Portland Trail Blazers downed the Los Angeles Clippers 110-104 in the regular-season finale Wednesday night, with both teams resting key players in advance of the playoffs.
Portland, which sat starting forward LaMarcus Aldridge, ends the regular season on a five-game winning streak. Seeded fifth in the Western Conference, Portland will face the Rockets in a first-round series starting Sunday in Houston.
Jamal Crawford had 34 points for the Clippers, who didn’t play Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. The team set the franchise record for most regular season wins (57) the night before with a victory over Denver.
Going into the game the Clippers had a chance to secure the No. 2 seed in the West. But when Oklahoma City defeated Detroit earlier Wednesday, the Clippers sewed up the third seed and will face Golden State in the opening round starting Saturday.
Paul, Griffin and J.J. Reddick did not make the trip to Portland.
The team had already announced that Griffin would not play when the league suspended him for the game because he had accumulated 16 technical fouls. Griffin was handed the technical in Tuesday night’s 117-105 win against the Nuggets.
DeAndre Jordan started but he played less than two minutes before he headed to the bench.
“I just value rest. And I value health. Period,” Rivers said pre-game about resting his stars, even though the seeding hadn’t been determined.
In addition to Aldridge, the Blazers sat reserve guard Mo Williams. But Portland saw the return of forward Joel Freeland, who hadn’t played since Feb. 11 with a sprained MCL in his right knee. The Blazers need Freeland to back up center Robin Lopez against the Rockets and Dwight Howard.
Portland led by as many as 22 points in the first half.
Barton’s 3-pointer for Portland put the Blazers up 54-37 midway through the second quarter and they went on to lead 68-52 at the half. Portland played its starters all 12 minutes apiece in the first half.
Lopez was the only starter who started the second half for the Blazers. Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and Damian Lillard did not play again.
The Clippers closed to within 74-73 in the third quarter after Crawford hit a driving layup, two 3-pointers and a free throw. Los Angeles went ahead 81-78 on Matt Barnes’ 3. Portland reclaimed the lead when Freeland’s basket with just under 10 minutes left to make it 89-87.
Crawford made a 3-pointer that put the Clippers in front 96-94, but Barton answered with his own 3 with 4:37 left. Victor Claver’s 3-pointer gave the Blazers a 106-100 lead and all but sealed the win with 1:58 to go.
Notes: Lopez was awarded the Blazers’ Maurice Lucas award for his contributions to the team both on and off the court. … The Clippers’ victory over the Nuggets Tuesday was the team’s 57th, setting a new franchise record.