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Clippers can't shut the door, lose at Portland, 101-100

Los Angeles gives up the game's last 10 points and loses its fourth consecutive game.

January 26, 2013|By Broderick Turner
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PORTLAND, Ore. — Whenever Chris Paul returns from a bruised right kneecap can't be soon enough for the Clippers.

In the meantime, it has been up to All-Star Blake Griffin and super-sub Jamal Crawford to be the closer with Paul sitting out his sixth game because of a bruised right kneecap.

The Clippers put the ball in Crawford's hands, but he was unable to deliver, missing a 19-foot jumper that sent the Clippers to a tough 101-100 defeat against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night at the Rose Garden.

"I'll take that shot 10 times out of 10 and I'll make it nine times out of 10," said Crawford, who had 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. "That's one that I missed."

What pained the Clippers even more was that they worked their way back from a 14-point deficit only to lose their fourth straight game. It was the second time this season they have had a four-game losing streak.

The Clippers led, 100-91, with 2 minutes 38 seconds left after a Lamar Odom dunked off a pass from Griffin, who finished with 24 points, eight rebounds, a career-high 10 assists and four steals.

But the Clippers never scored again. They were outscored, 10-0, and watched the Trail Blazers open a 101-100 lead on two J.J. Hickson free throws with 45.2 seconds left.

"We've got to learn with this group without [Paul] to finish games," Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "It was an opportunity for us to finish the game."

After back-to-back turnovers by the Clippers and Trail Blazers, L.A. had one more opportunity, calling a timeout with 23.7 seconds left to set up a shot.

Crawford missed on a drive, but forced a jump ball with Nicolas Batum with 12.4 seconds left.

Crawford won the jump ball, giving the Clippers one last chance that Crawford wasn't able to convert against the Portland team he played for last season.

"We had an opportunity to steal this one," Del Negro said. "We couldn't convert down the stretch.

"Chris is our closer. It was Blake and Jamal tonight."

Etc.

Del Negro said the plan is to get Paul as much rest and therapy as possible for his injury. But Del Negro said Paul was not expected to play Sunday night against Portland at Staples Center.

Del Negro said there still isn't a timetable for Paul to return.

"Once he starts some contact [drills], I'll have a better feeling for it," Del Negro said.

The last time the Clippers played a back-to-back game, Del Negro held Grant Hill out of the first game for precautionary reasons and let him play in the second game.

Hill play Saturday night against the Trail Blazers and is expected to play against the Trail Blazers again Sunday at Staples center in a back-to-back game.

"We'll make that decision tomorrow," Del Negro said, "but I don't see it being a problem."

Hill had seven points against the Trail Blazers, including his first three-pointer of the season.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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