Tuesday, October 08, 2013 1:23 am
Clippers down Blazers 89-81 in preseason opener
By ANNE M. PETERSONAP Sports Writer
Chris Paul added 15 points and eight rebounds as new Clippers head coach Doc Rivers got a look at his team after holding training camp last week in San Diego.
"You can see them in practice, but games are different," Rivers said afterward.
Nicolas Batum, who played for his native France this summer on the gold-medal winning European Championship team, led Portland with 12 points.
Blazers guard Damian Lillard, last season's NBA rookie of the year, added 11 points and six assists, but Portland was hampered by the absence of All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who was nursing a left quadriceps injury.
"Well, it looked like a first exhibition game," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.
Rivers joined the Clippers this summer when the Celtics agreed to let him out of his contract in exchange for a first-round draft pick in 2015. Rivers also serves as senior VP of basketball operations.
Rivers joins a talent-laden team that had a club-record 56 wins and its first Pacific Division championship, but fell in the first round of the playoffs to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Clippers have 11 new players on their roster, building around the nucleus of Paul, Jordan and Blake Griffin. Willie Green and newcomer Jared Dudley rounded out the starting lineup on Monday night.
The Blazers were also without new guard Mo Williams because of a sprained right ankle. Williams, a 10-year veteran, was signed as a free agent in the offseason after spending last season with the Utah Jazz. Forward Dorell Wright, also acquired this summer, was given the night off.
Portland's top draft pick C.J. McCullom was absent after fracturing his left foot during practice. He will need surgery and his recovery time isn't yet known.
Four of the Blazers' starters return this season, including Aldridge, Batum, Lillard and Wesley Matthews. The Blazers added 7-foot center Robin Lopez, acquired in a three-team deal from New Orleans in the offseason.
Lopez finished with eight points and 10 rebounds.
"I think maybe I was a little too overanxious," Lopez said. "I was moving too quickly. I wasn't stopping to think."
Paul hit a 19-footer to give the Clippers an early 15-4 lead and Rivers kept his starters in for much of the first quarter.
The Blazers cut the lead to 25-22 on Lillard's layup, and evened it on Allen Crabbe's put-back dunk. After Antawn Jamison's jumper for the Clippers, Crabbe hit a 3-pointer that gave Portland its first lead of the game at 28-27.
But Portland stumbled over its own mistakes, with 17 first-half turnovers, and Green's 3-pointer put Los Angeles back up 43-36. Griffin's dunk off a steal by Jordan put the Clippers up 53-20.
Jordan led the Clippers with 14 points and six rebounds at the half.
Griffin's dunk midway through the third quarter kept the Clippers in front 66-54. Ryan Hollins hit a layup and a free throw that gave Los Angeles an 84-66 lead in the fourth.
Rivers' focus the first week of training camp was on the defense, and he said that overall he was encouraged by what he saw.
"We're just trying to get them to see - defense is all the time," Rivers said.
The Blazers finished 33-49 last season and out of the playoffs for the second straight year.