The Los Angeles Clippers, fresh off ending the San Antonio Spurs' bid for an undefeated season Wednesday night, head to Portland for a matchup with the Trail Blazers.
The Clippers handed the Spurs their first loss of the season, a 106-84 drubbing at the Staples Center. Seven Clippers scored double-figures, including spectacular performances from their big men.
Blake Griffin had 22 points and 10 boards, while DeAndre Jordan posted 20 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
The win was huge, not just to take down perhaps the best team in the NBA, but the Clippers stopped a rather ugly two-game losing streak. The Clippers dropped back-to-back home games against the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, not exactly the elite of the sport.
"Chauncey (Billups) gave us a good talking to after the last two games," Jordan said of the injured veteran guard. "We really didn't want to disappoint him. He told us that we took our last two opponents for granted and we didn't come out to play. Tonight we brought more intensity and it helped us."
The Clippers surrendered over 100 points against both Golden State and Cleveland. On Wednesday, the Clips held the Spurs under 90 points, forced 20 turnovers and held All-Star guard Tony Parker to four points.
The Blazers return to the Pacific Northwest after a three-game road trip. Portland went 1-2 and lost Monday night against the Dallas Mavericks.
The balance for Portland has been strong. All five starters average double- figures and the revelation, of course, has been rookie point guard Damian Lillard.
Through four games of his brief, but promising career, Lillard averaged 19.3 points and 8.0 assists. Lillard struggled a bit against Dallas. He only managed 13 points and five assists, but growing pains are part of learning.
"He missed some open looks that he's been making. He saw some pick-and-roll defense," head coach Terry Stotts said of his potential franchise lead guard. "They (Mavs) were very aggressive in the second half; blitzing and trying to take the ball out of his hands. And we anticipated them doing it. I think more teams will do that and it's one of the adjustments that we need to anticipate."
One problem the Blazers have battled this season has been bench production. Portland has not had a double-digit scorer from its bench in any of the four games.
It's a stark contrast to the Clippers, whose leading scorer this season has been sixth man Jamal Crawford (21.2 ppg). Matt Barnes and Eric Bledsoe netted 12 and 15 points, respectively in Wednesday's victory.
The Clippers took three of the four meetings last season, but Portland has won six of the last nine and 10 of the last 14.