Steve Dykes/Associated Press
Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George scored the game’s final six points to help lead the Clips to a 113-112 comeback win on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center on Tuesday.
George’s points came in the final 55.3 seconds of the game, with the final two occurring off a pair of free throws with 4.8 seconds left. The Blazers got the ball to midcourt following a timeout, but a midrange jumper from CJ McCollum for the win bounced off the back rim.
George led L.A. with 33 points and 11 rebounds, and McCollum paced the Blazers with 28 points.
Both teams were shorthanded. The Blazers were without point guard Damian Lillard (right hamstring tendinopathy) and center Jusuf Nurkic (injury management). Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard sat with right foot soreness.
The 41-19 Clippers have won nine of their last 10 games. The 32-25 Blazers have lost seven of 10.
Trail Blazers G CJ McCollum: 28 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists
Trail Blazers G Norman Powell: 23 points
Trail Blazers F Carmelo Anthony: 18 points, 4 assists
Clippers F Paul George: 33 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals
Clippers F Marcus Morris: 16 points, 6 rebounds
Clippers C Ivica Zubac: 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks
George’s Dominance Continues for Clippers
A McCollum three-pointer gave the Blazers a 105-99 lead with just over four minutes left, and it appeared that the Clippers would be leaving Portland with a loss.
George had other ideas.
The All-Star forward was involved in 12 of his team’s final 14 points, scoring 10 of his own and assisting on an Ivica Zubac bucket.
His most impressive shot may have been a running layup with 33.6 seconds to play, as he muscled his way into the paint, kept control of the ball despite a swipe attempt from Blazers forward Robert Covington and put home a layup to cut the Blazers’ edge to 112-111.
LA Clippers @LAClippers
[email protected]_Trece powering through. 💪🏾 https://t.co/iWFQ64QFDO
It was more of the same for George, who has been sensational for the Clips of late.
George played five of those games without Leonard, who has been out due to injury. L.A. has gone 4-1 despite missing him, Patrick Beverley and Serge Ibaka during that time, and that’s largely thanks to George, who has put the team on his back to keep the Clippers’ momentum rolling into the regular season’s final stages.
It’s clear George is a man on a mission, as noted during a postgame interview:
George has never been to the NBA Finals, and last season’s Clippers finish resulted in the team blowing a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals.
It was an ugly end to a year that started with championship hopes, and this year was a bit sluggish in the first half too, with the team falling behind the top of the West pack at 24-14 going into the All-Star break.
Now L.A. is a force to be reckoned with, though, and George looks unstoppable as the Clips look to dominate the rest of the NBA en route to the playoffs.
Another Tough Loss for Blazers
Portland’s most recent 10-game stretch includes three losses by 17 or more points and a pair of one-point defeats. It’s been ugly, painful or both lately and on Tuesday it was more of the latter.
The trio of McCollum, Norman Powell and Carmelo Anthony carried the Portland offense, scoring 69 combined points. McCollum ran point in Lillard’s absence and led the team in scoring. Powell was an efficient 10 of 20 from the field.
Anthony was not efficient (5 of 18) but he still scored seven points in the fourth quarter to help Portland build a late six-point edge.
The big problem was that Portland’s offense couldn’t save the Blazers when George turned it on at the end of the game. L.A. scored 14 points in the final four minutes and outscored Portland 10-3 in the final two.
After PG-13 hit a pair of free throws to cut the Portland lead to 109-105, the aforementioned Blazer trio went just 1 of 4. Anthony missed a pull-up jumper and McCollum and Powell both missed threes. McCollum did great work to give himself space for the game-winning attempt, but he could not connect.
Ultimately, this game boiled down to one player taking over down the stretch to will his team to win. On the other end, the Blazers played well but simply missed too many shots.
They can hold their heads high knowing they fought tooth-and-nail with a tough Clippers team that somehow is excelling sans Leonard, but the Blazers can’t get Lillard back soon enough as they look to stop this losing skid.
Both teams will play home games at 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Los Angeles will host the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center, and Portland will welcome the Denver Nuggets.