On Saturday, the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 136-125 at the Crypto.com Arena. The win had the Clippers (43-38) tied with the Golden State Warriors (43-38) for fifth place in the tightly competitive Western Conference.
The Clippers have won five of its last seven games and avoided the play-in tournament with a win against the Phoenix Suns today. The Clippers finished as the fifth seed because they hold the tiebreaker against the Dubs due to a better division record.
The Clippers did not have the best first half, as the Trail Blazers led at halftime, 70-64.
“We all realized that wasn’t our greatest first half,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said. “We didn’t play the right way, and we just can’t do that. And so, they understand, and that’s why they came out in the third quarter and played the way they did.”
Kawhi Leonard played 29 minutes and led the scoring with 27 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. After trailing at the half, the Clippers would go on a 14-2 run in the third quarter, with Leonard scoring 13 of his 27 points.
The team remains without Paul George (sprained right knee), and there is no timeline for his return. Leonard remains hopeful about their playoff run:
“I mean, I’m confident in it. We gotta be optimistic about it. We are who we are at this point. So, we’re gonna focus in and be better,” Leonard said.
Coming off the bench, Norman Powell played with an understanding of what was at stake for the team. He scored 23 points and contributed three rebounds, five assists, and two steals.
“We got a veteran team, we know what’s at stake, the style of basketball we need to play, and we can play at that level,” Powell said.
Russell Westbrook contributed 20 points, six rebounds, and six assists, and Ivica Zubac ended the evening with 14 points and ten rebounds.
The Portland Trail Blazers have lost eight of their last nine games. Kevin Knox II scored 30 points; Shaedon Sharpe and Trendon Watford ended the night with 26 and 24 points, respectively.
The Suns (45-37) have clinched a playoff spot and are the No. 4 seed. The Clippers will battle the Suns in the first round of the Playoffs.