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Clippers get it right this time against Trail Blazers

One night after falling in Portland by a point, the Clippers hammer the Trail Blazers, 96-83, to end a losing streak at four games. Blake Griffin scores 23 points.

January 27, 2013|By Jim Peltz

Before the Clippers took the court Sunday night, Coach Vinny Del Negro was asked whether the team could win without point guard Chris Paul, who has missed several games because of a bruised right kneecap.

"We should be more than capable of doing that with the guys that are healthy and playing," he replied.

The Clippers — led by Blake Griffin — then proved Del Negro right, soundly defeating the Portland Trail Blazers, 96-83, at Staples Center to end their streak of four consecutive losses.

As Paul, dressed in his street clothes, again cheered them from the bench, the Clippers won a rematch of their one-point loss to the Trail Blazers a night earlier in Portland's Rose Garden.

The Clippers (33-13) also earned back some momentum ahead of an eight-city trip that starts Wednesday in Minnesota.

Griffin started modestly enough, with four points in the first quarter, then shifted into a higher gear to finish with a team-high 23 points along with nine assists.

One of Griffin's highlights game near the end of the third quarter, when he did a dribble-drive to the basket and launched past Portland's Nicolas Batum for a dunk. Griffin had another dunk off a fastbreak pass to end the first half.

"You always need a win; it's always good especially at home, especially coming off four [losses] in a row," Griffin said.

"I thought the way we came out [aggressively] in the second half was a positive."

The Clippers' scoring was broad-based — the team's strong bench contributed 36 points — and forward Lamar Odom had a game-high 13 rebounds along with eight points and six assists against Portland (22-22).

"Any time you don't have a player like Chris Paul in your lineup, it's going to hurt you," Odom said. "But I think it was the small things" that helped them win regardless, "playing defense, moving [the ball] quick and today we were able to punish them with Blake."

Del Negro said his team's defense "was the difference in the game. We got a solid production from several guys, so it was a good team win for us, which we needed."

Among the Clippers' other top scorers, Caron Butler had 12 points, Eric Bledsoe had 10 and Jamal Crawford had nine.

Bledsoe, 23, has been the Clippers' main point guard in Paul's absence and although he made only four of his 14 shots Sunday, he said "my team just kept telling me to stay in attack mode. I thought I did a good job of staying aggressive."

The Clippers also penetrated well, scoring more than twice as many points in the paint (56) than the Trail Blazers (24).

The Clippers "came out much more aggressive" than in Saturday night's loss, said Portland Coach Terry Stotts.

"Second half, mainly third quarter, they came out of the gates and we were down double digits the whole quarter," Stotts said.

Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who was held to 12 points in Saturday night's game, led the Trail Blazers with 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Damian Lillard had 16 points.

james.peltz@latimes.com

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