- Associated Press - Friday, October 28, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The Los Angeles Clippers‘ goal in their opener was to keep the Portland Trail Blazers from making 3-pointers.

The strategy worked: Portland made just four of 18 attempts from the perimeter and the Clippers came away with a 114-106 victory Thursday night.

Chris Paul said the Clippers had the luxury of being able to watch Portland’s opener two days before.

“We just saw the clinic they put on at the 3-point line, so we just tried to make it tough on them and get them inside the line,” said Paul, who had 27 points.

Blake Griffin also had 27 points and added 13 rebounds in what was a contentious game that had fans booing the officials after two flagrant fouls called on Portland players in the fourth quarter. Chris Paul hit a 3-pointer that gave the Clippers a 102-90 lead with 4:07 left and the crowd headed for the exits.

The Clippers were the last team in the Western Conference to start the season. Portland opened at home on Tuesday with a 113-104 victory over Utah that included 13 3-pointers.

Damian Lillard led the Blazers against the Clippers with 29 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out late. His layup got the Blazers to 107-102 with 35.9 seconds left but the rally fell short.

“I just think we grew frustrated with the way some things went,” Lillard said. “When we’re in that situation we’ve probably got to do a better job of controlling what we can control.”

The teams last met in the opening round of the playoffs last season. Portland dropped the first two games of the series, but Paul broke his right hand and Griffin reinjured his left quadriceps tendon, and the Blazers won the next four to take the series. Portland would go on to fall to the Golden State Warriors in the conference semifinals.

Jamal Crawford hit a 3-pointer that capped a 16-0 run to put the Clippers up 37-27. Griffin’s layup extended the lead to 49-38 with less than five minutes left in the first half. Paul made a 3 to end the half and the Clippers led 58-49.

The game got testy in the third quarter when DeAndre Jordan and Mason Plumlee got into a bit of a pushing match, resulting in offsetting technical fouls.

Portland rallied to keep it close throughout the quarter and Allan Crabbe’s jumper made it 76-73, but Marreese Speights answered for the Clippers with a 3-pointer. It was tied at 82 going into the fourth quarter.

Raymond Felton put the Clippers ahead 90-84 but they couldn’t extend it any further until midway through the quarter when the game got chippy again and Plumlee was assessed a flagrant foul.

“I won’t comment on the officiating, but obviously I didn’t like some of the calls,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.

That shifted the momentum, and the Clippers went up 95-89. CJ McCollum was called for a flagrant on Jordan, who missed both free throws. J.J. Redick made a 3-pointer that put Los Angeles ahead 98-89.

“When you shoot 40 percent on the road and you have the grit to still win the game, that was pretty cool,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

TIP INS

Clippers: The Clippers went after veterans in the offseason, bringing in 11-year pros Felton and Brandon Bass, eight-year pro Speights, and seven-year pro Alan Anderson. … Los Angeles started Luc Mbah a Moute at small forward.

Trail Blazers: Lillard opened the season with 39 points against the Jazz. … Chance The Rapper was among the fans at the game. … The Blazers made just four of 18 3-point attempts.

TOGETHER: Paul, head of the NBA players’ union, is one of a group of players that lent their voices to an NBA video to spread a message of unity. Along with Dwyane Wade, Kyle Korver and Carmelo Anthony, the video ends with the words “There’s only one way to work through our challenges - together.”

The Trail Blazers have been linking arms during the national anthem for the season’s first two games.

PLUMLEE’S GESTURE: He landed in the seats before his dustup with Jordan, startling two kids sitting courtside. After the game he brought them back to the locker room and signed a pair of jerseys for the youngsters.

As for the officiating? He said it shouldn’t be a distraction.

“If you are a mentally tough team you don’t let that bother you,” Plumlee said. “You’ve got to play through stuff.”

UP NEXT

Clippers: Host the Utah Jazz on Sunday night.

Trail Blazers: At the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.


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