Los Angeles, CA – Chris Paul scored 20 points, none bigger than his go-ahead layup with 5.0 seconds left in the game to give the Clippers a 98-97 win over Portland at Staples Center on Friday.
Jamal Crawford gave Portland a 97-96 edge with his jumper from the right elbow with 13.9 ticks on the clock, but Paul responded with his driving layup at the other end.
Wesley Matthews took the final shot for the Trail Blazers, but his layup was off the mark as time expired.
"This was a collective effort," said Paul. "It wasn't just me. We got a big stop at the end."
Paul added 14 assists, while Blake Griffin and Randy Foye also scored 20 points apiece. Griffin grabbed 13 rebounds, helping the Clippers earn their sixth straight home victory.
LaMarcus Aldridge sat out with a sprained left elbow, but J.J. Hickson filled in with a season-high 29 points to go with 13 rebounds for Portland. Nicolas Batum added 18 points and Crawford finished with 14, but the Blazers dropped their third straight on the road.
LA held a one-point lead with under seven minutes left, but Hickson sparked a 9-2 run with six straight points before Raymond Felton buried a three at the top of the key to give Portland an 89-83 lead with 4:14 remaining.
Caron Butler's layup in traffic cut the margin to 95-93 with 1:18 to play and, after Hickson missed two at the line, Paul drove the lane and dished to Foye on the left wing for a three-pointer to give LA a 96-95 lead with 47.8 seconds left.
Crawford missed a jumper on Portland's next possession, but Felton corralled the offensive rebound to give Crawford a second attempt he would not miss.
"We feel we competed for 48 minutes," said Portland interim head coach Kaleb Canales. "Give them credit, we just came up a little short. We just didn't make enough basketball plays at the end and they did."
Earlier in the game, Griffin took advantage of Aldridge's absence, scoring seven points and grabbing eights boards to help the Clippers to a 23-18 lead heading into the second stanza.
The Blazers reeled off 15 straight points early in the second, but the Clippers countered with a 16-4 surge before Paul finished an acrobatic layup to beat the halftime buzzer and send the Clippers into the locker room with a 46-43 edge.
Trailing by as many as nine in the third, Portland used a 13-4 run to tie the game at 62. Kenyon Martin then got his first bucket of the game with less than a second left in the third, giving LA a slim 73-70 edge heading into the final frame.
Portland will start a three-game homestand Sunday against Minnesota...Los Angeles will host Utah on Saturday to wrap up a five-game home stand...The game had 10 lead changes and was tied 10 times.