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Los Angeles Clippers get off to fast start in win over Portland Trail Blazers

Reuters SPORT
Published April 07,2021
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Powered by the hot shooting of Paul George, the Los Angeles Clippers outlasted the visiting Portland Trail Blazers 133-116 on Tuesday.

George scored 24 of his game-high 36 points in the first half as the Clippers led by as many as 26 points before the break.

"I just felt good," said George, who has been dealing with a lingering foot issue. "My foot felt good today. I felt explosive. I just came out trying to attack, come out score and finish."

Los Angeles upped its record to 4-2 on a nine-game homestand.

The Clippers started the game making their first nine shots. L.A. also got a boost from the return of point guard Patrick Beverley to the starting lineup. Beverley had been out since March 11, missing 12 games with right knee soreness.

Beverley finished with eight points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal in 20 minutes of work. Clippers coach Tyronn Lue had Beverley on a minutes restriction in his first game back from injury.

Los Angeles' Kawhi Leonard had a solid all-around game, finishing with 29 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Reggie Jackson added 23 points off the bench.

The Clippers' reserves outscored Portland's bench 44-21.

Versatile big man DeMarcus Cousins, recently released by the Houston Rockets, joined the Clippers on to a 10-day contract, giving L.A. some size up front with Serge Ibaka still nursing a lower back injury. Cousins made his Clippers debut, finishing with seven points and four rebounds in eight minutes.

While the Clippers led big early, the Blazers chipped away at L.A.'s lead and only trailed 73-66 at the half. Portland used the free-throw line to work back into the game, with the Blazers making 16 of 21 shots from the line in the first half.

Norman Powell paced the Blazers with 32 points. CJ McCollum added 24 points, while Robert Covington finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.

The Clippers did a good job defensively of keeping Damian Lillard from getting to the basket. Lillard shot just 2 of 14 from the field and wound up with just 11 points.

Showing his frustration, Lillard received a technical foul for arguing a non-call on a drive to the basket.

"Dame is always an MVP candidate in my eyes because of the things he does, the things he brings every single night," Lue said. "He plays every single night. He wants to play and he wants to compete. He's one of the top players in the league."

The Blazers managed to cut L.A.'s advantage to two points midway through the third quarter but would not get any closer the rest of the way. The Clippers upped their lead back to double digits in the fourth and led comfortably the rest of the game.

The Blazers had to play without Jusuf Nurkic, who experienced right knee inflammation after playing in back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday. Enes Kanter started in place of Nurkic, finishing with 13 points and 15 rebounds.

Nurkic attended the game and was on the bench for the Blazers.

After the road loss, the Blazers now travel to Utah to face the Jazz on Thursday and then return to Portland for three home games against the Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.