PORTLAND — Rookie Sam Bowie scored nine fourth-quarter points, including a crucial tip-in with 1:21 left, as the Portland Trail Blazers held off the Clippers, 126-123, Saturday night.
The Blazers led throughout the game behind Kiki Vandeweghe's 26 points and Clyde Drexler's 24, but the Clippers got to within 119-117 in the fourth quarter.
Bowie's free throw and the tip-in gave Portland a five-point cushion, and the Blazers cashed in on free throws the rest of the way.
Derek Smith led the Clippers with 27 points, and Marcus Johnson added 23.
Portland took a 35-28 first-quarter lead behind Vandeweghe's 12 points and carried a 72-59 advantage into halftime. The Clippers stormed back in the third quarter to outscore Portland, 34-26, as Bill Walton, playing a reserve role, led the charge.
Walton had 17 points, and Norm Nixon added 15 points and 11 assists for the Clippers, who saw their two-game winning streak broken.
Drexler had 10 assists and four rebounds to go with his 24 points, while Portland rookie Steve Colter had 19 points and 10 assists.
Bowie finished with 15 points and eight rebounds for the Blazers.
The victory gave the Trail Blazers a two-game lead over Phoenix and second place in the Pacific Division. Portland is tied with Utah for sixth place in the Western Conference playoff picture.
"We had some great play in sections of the game tonight," Trail Blazer Coach Jack Ramsay said. "I was pleased with the way we attacked their trap. We played good defense also to shut them down."
Clipper Coach Don Chaney agreed that the key to the game was the Trail Blazers' ability to take the Clippers out of their normal offense.
"They took us out of things by overplaying us defensively," Chaney said. "It gave us more trouble than it should have. Had we reversed the ball to the other side of the court when Portland double-teamed us, we would have had a lot of layups. No question that their defense bothered us."