Clippers topple Trail Blazers 96-83
By JOE RESNICK
Griffin had 23 points and nine assists, helping the Clippers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 96-83 on Sunday night and get even for a one-point loss to the Trail Blazers a day earlier.
"It's everybody's job on this team to step up, and that's what I've tried to do," Griffin said. "Chris is a huge part of our team and he directs the game from the point guard spot. He has the ball in his hands during 85 percent of our offense. So when he goes out, our whole dynamic changes. But other guys have stepped up. Eric Bledsoe's done a great job."
Bledsoe had 10 points, five assists and five rebounds in his seventh start, while Chris Paul missed his fourth straight game and seventh in the past nine because of a bruised right kneecap.
Bledsoe played 36 minutes without committing a turnover.
"I just played more aggressive and didn't worry about it," Bledsoe said. "My last couple of games I was playing kind of passive, but tonight I did a good job of just staying aggressive. My teammates just told me to just stay in attack mode, and everybody else on the team played great. At the end of the day, turnovers are going to happen. You can't play every game without having a turnover."
Griffin powered the Clippers to a 55-50 halftime lead with 15 points, including a fast break dunk off a long pass from DeAndre Jordan just before intermission.
"Our lead assist guy is not around, so we have to run some more things through Blake at the elbow and let him make plays for us," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He draws so much attention, but he's unselfish and he's making the good basketball plays and making other players better. That's what All-Stars do in this league."
Griffin didn't get his first rebound in this game until after his sixth assist.
"Blake sharing the basketball made the game easier for everybody," Del Negro said. "He was kind of like a `point forward' for us tonight. We had 33 assists and shot the ball well, which we haven't been doing. We were unselfish in a lot of areas."
The Clippers have the third-best record in the NBA at 33-13 and are 2 1/2 games behind San Antonio in the Western Conference.
Lamar Odom had eight points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
"We needed any kind of a win right now," Del Negro said. "We're trying to accumulate as many as we can, and then we'll count them up at the end of the year and see where we're at.
"We obviously executed a little bit better and got solid production from several guys. I liked our intensity in the second half, and we did a better job guarding the 3-pointers. But more so, our activity defensively was the difference in the game."
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Trail Blazers with 21 points and 11 rebounds. It was Portland's seventh loss in nine games.
"It's hard to beat the same team two times in a row, especially on back-to-back said," rookie Damian Lillard said. "They're a really good team. Last night I think we did a lot better job controlling their transition and not giving up as many easy plays."
Portland never led in the second half on Sunday, falling behind 74-59 after a driving layup by Bledsoe with 3:15 left in the third quarter.
Griffin didn't play after going to the bench with 10 seconds left in the third quarter and the Clippers leading 78-62. But they built the margin to as many as 19 points on a layup by reserve forward Ronny Turiaf with 6:23 remaining.
"We didn't take care of the ball and we had turnovers in the second half," Aldridge said. "I thought they had some easy breakouts that opened the game up. Griffin did a good job of finding guys and making good reads. But we didn't play as well as we did last night, and some of the guys were a little tired."
NOTES: The Blazers finished with 28 assists on their 29 field goals. ... Los Angeles outscored Portland 56-24 in the paint. ... The Clippers head out on a seven-game road trip. ... The Clippers shot 51.2 percent, and are 14-1 when shooting at least 50 percent. ... Los Angeles was leading 46-40 when Butler's fadeaway 3-pointer from in front of the Clippers' bench was disallowed because of an offensive foul called against him with 4:31 remaining in the second quarter. Butler picked up his third foul just 14 seconds later, but remained in the game until he was removed by Del Negro with 3:16 left in the half.
Updated January 28, 2013