The NBA is back, and the Portland Trail Blazers started their exhibition slate with an 89-81 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at the Moda Center Monday night. It was a poor shooting game as both teams finished below 37 percent from the field and 20 percent from three.
DeAndre Jordan capitalized on the lack of LaMarcus Aldridge and the introduction of Robin Lopez to lead all players with 16 points. Jordan added eight rebounds, four blocks and two steals to own the spotlight Monday. The Clippers also had big showings from Blake Griffin (14 points), Willie Green (14 points, 4 assists) and Chris Paul (15 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists).
The Blazers were led by once-again stellar efforts from Nicolas Batum and Damian Lillard. Batum led the Blazers in scoring with 12 and Lillard added 11 and 6 assists. New addition Lopez started center, where he’ll work from during the season, and nearly earned a double double by scoring eight and picking up 10 boards.
From the bench, rookie from Cal Allen Crabbe scored six, rookie from Mississippi State Dee Bost scored seven, Will Barton scored seven and sophomore backup center Meyers Leonard scored ten and had six rebounds.
The Blazers, in addition to missing Aldridge, were without the talents of new guard Mo Williams, offseason pickup Dorell Wright, and first-rounder C.J. McCollum.
Portland played the Clippers close, with a Crabbe put-back slam pulling the teams even early and Crabbe adding a three soon later that made it 28-27 Portland. However, 17 first-half turnovers made the going tough for the piecemeal squad.
[gn_quote style=”1″]”Well, it looked like a first exhibition game,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.[/gn_quote]
A bad pass by Aldridge’s replacement, Thomas Robinson, set up a Griffin dunk at the other end that made the Clippers lead 53-40.
Stotts is coaching the Blazers for his second year. The Clippers acquired a new coach in the offseason, Doc Rivers from Boston, and he has LA looking like a brand-new team from all reports. CSN columnist Dwight Jaynes said about as much after the game.
“Doc already has made a big impact on the defensive end and you know he’s going to insist on unselfish offense. This is going to be a juggernaut.”