LOS ANGELES • Back in April, the Portland Trail Blazers eliminated the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the National Basketball Association play-offs and the animosity between the two teams has not faded.
Blake Griffin scored 26 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and handed out six assists, and the Clippers held on for a 121-120 win over Portland on Monday at the Staples Centre.
Chris Paul had 21 points and 14 assists in an ill-tempered game, while J.J. Redick chipped in with 19 points for Los Angeles (18-7).
Two foul shots by Paul pushed the Clippers' margin to 118-113 with 18 seconds left, but there was plenty of action in the final moments.
With 11.5 seconds remaining, tempers flared when Clippers centre DeAndre Jordan and Evan Turner had to be separated after Jordan fouled Damian Lillard. Both players were ejected. After Lillard made both free throws to cut the deficit to three, Wesley Johnson committed a turnover on the inbound pass, giving Portland possession with 9.5 seconds left. Raymond Felton intentionally fouled C.J. McCollum with 7.9 seconds remaining. The guard converted both foul shots to shorten the lead to 118-117.
McCollum, though, grabbed the jersey of Redick before the Clippers could inbound the ball, allowing Redick to get a foul shot and giving the Clippers the ball again. Redick made all three foul shots to put the Clippers up by four. Lillard then nailed a three-pointer but the Clippers were able to run out the clock.
"I'm sure there's no love lost," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said after watching his team win their third match-up against Portland this season.
"Whenever you play a team a lot, it seems like you get testy. We don't really care if you like us or not. It doesn't do one thing to us or the other. And I would say the other teams probably feel the same way."
McCollum paced the Trail Blazers (12-14) with 25 points, and Lillard collected 24 points. Mason Plumlee had 18 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five blocked shots for the Trail Blazers, who lost their fourth NBA game in a row.
The contest featured 12 lead changes and 12 ties.
"It was probably our most competitive game of the year," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "It was a tough loss but I like the way we competed throughout the game."