PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Blake Griffin had 27 points and 13 rebounds and the Los Angeles Clippers opened the season Thursday night with a 114-106 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
It was a contentious game that had fans booing the officials after two flagrant fouls 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.
Damian Lillard’s layup got the Blazers within 107-102 with 35.9 seconds left but the rally fell short.
It was the season opener for the Clippers, the last team in the Western Conference to start the season. Portland opened at home on Tuesday with a 113-104 victory over the Utah Jazz.
Paul also finished with 27 points for the Clippers. Lillard led the Blazers with 29 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out late.
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 took the series 4-2. 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.
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.
TIP-INS: Clippers — Los Angeles 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.
UP NEXT: The Clippers host the Utah Jazz on Sunday night. The Trail Blazers visit the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.
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Clippers hold off Blazers to win opener on road – USA TODAY