Wizards

Clippers build big lead, beat Blazers 103-90

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Clippers build big lead, beat Blazers 103-90

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Chris Paul joked that the Trail Blazers' near-comeback against the Clippers made for good television.

``You always gotta make it interesting,'' he said with a smile.

But only to a point.

The Clippers built a 25-point lead in the first half then held off a second-half rally by the Blazers for a 103-90 victory on Thursday night. Jamal Crawford scored 25 points off the bench while Paul and DeAndre Jordan had 21 apiece.

``We all knew what we were supposed to do. We came out a little flat defensively in the third quarter, so we all got on each other,'' Jordan said. ``We knew in the fourth quarter we had to come out and play.''

Nicolas Batum had 23 points and nine rebounds for the Blazers, who ultimately couldn't catch up.

Rookie Damian Lillard's pull-up jumper and Batum's 3-pointer helped Portland trim Los Angeles' lead to 75-69 late in the third quarter. Batum's driving layup at the buzzer made it 77-71 heading to the final period.

Portland closed to 86-82 on Meyers Leonard's alley-oop dunk from Batum, but the rally fizzled and Paul sent fans streaming for the doors when his jumper with 2:51 left extended the lead to 98-85.

``We can't wait until we're down 20 points to say, `Man, we've got to play now,''' said Batum, who had success in the second half when he was put on Paul.

Clippers star Blake Griffin had 10 rebounds and seven points while playing with a sleeve covering his right arm for the third straight game because of fluid in his elbow.

``I wouldn't really say it's affecting my play. Once you're out there it's just a matter of playing,'' Griffin said. ``It's gotten better each day so a few days off will be good for it but it's not something I'm worried about.''

Los Angeles improved to 4-2 in its first game away from the Staples Center. They had a road win over the rival Lakers last Friday.

The victory over Portland came on the second night of back-to-back games. The Clippers handed San Antonio its first loss with a 106-84 victory on Wednesday night.

The Blazers (2-3) were coming off a 1-2 road trip that concluded with a 114-91 loss at Dallas on Monday.

Lillard said the fact that the Blazers came back from such a deficit was encouraging.

``We know when we play like that, with a lot of energy and when we're flying around, playing hard and moving the ball, we know that we can play with one of the best teams in the league,'' he said. ``At the same time, we can't put ourselves in that hole, because we're not that level of team to be able to fight back every time.''

Willie Green hit a 3-pointer to give the Clippers a 24-16 lead in the first quarter, and it quickly got ugly.

The Clippers grabbed a 43-28 lead on Matt Barnes' fast-break basket. Portland struggled offensively and Los Angeles led 53-30 after a 22-2 run - much of it with Griffin taking a break on the bench.

Luke Babbitt hit a 3-pointer for the Blazers at the halftime buzzer, but it didn't make much of a difference and the Clippers led 60-39 at the break.

Portland's reserves, averaging an NBA-low 12.8 points per game, had just eight points in the first half. Their Clippers counterparts scored 25.

The Blazers outscored the Clippers 32-17 in the third quarter, shooting 71 percent for the floor. Batum led the way with 12 points in the quarter.

For the game, Los Angeles shot 53 percent and Portland shot just under 43 percent.

``The first half skewed the whole thing,'' Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. ``The shooting percentages in the first half were very disparate. The third quarter obviously made up for a lot of that in the final tally, but on the whole, we didn't offer much resistance in the first half.''

Stotts said the before the game that he anticipating an interesting matchup between perennial All-Star Paul and rookie Lillard, the ``old guard and the new guard.''

Lillard, quickly building a reputation for his poise in his first year, finished with 16 points. He said Paul spoke to him at times during the game, but it wasn't trash talk: Paul complimented him.

``He can play,'' Paul said of Lillard after the game. ``Portland better hold on to him because they definitely have a prized possession for the future.''

NOTES: The Trail Blazers collected donations for the Red Cross to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy. Fans donated over $10,500, while Wells Fargo and the Paul G. Allen foundation each pledged $10,000 for a total of $30,500. ... The Clippers have won seven of their 32 games in Portland. ... The Clippers have won three straight against Portland.

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Bradley Beal fouling out nearly changed the series, but Wizards rallied

Bradley Beal fouling out nearly changed the series, but Wizards rallied

After calling an inconsistent game throughout the night, the referees made a decision with five minutes to go in Game 4 that nearly altered the entire series between the Wizards and Raptors.

DeMar DeRozan was chasing a rebound on the baseline and ran into Bradley Beal. Beal, who had a team-high 31 points, was levied a sixth foul. He was out of the game with the score tied.

Beal had unloaded for 20 points in 12 minutes in the second half, but now the Wizards would have to close it out without their All-Star shooting guard. Somehow, they were able to seal the win and tie the series.

Beal heard the whistle as he laid on the ground. He immediately hopped up and unleashed a tantrum that nobody could blame him for. He jumped up and down, screaming at the referees, who had just called by all accounts a questionable foul and in a key moment of a playoff game.

Both Beal and head coach Scott Brooks were incensed and with good reason.

“I was beyond emotional, beyond mad, frustrated," Beal said. "I honestly thought they were going to kick me out of the game I was so mad, but I was happy they didn’t do that."

Beal is probably lucky the referees didn't take offense to his reaction because it continued when he was on the bench. He walked past his teammates and leaned over with his hands on his knees, still furious. Then he returned to the sideline to yell at the refs. Center Ian Mahinmi helped convince him to step back and cool off.

Beal has made a major difference in this series. He averaged 14.0 points in the first two games, both losses. He has averaged 29.5 points in Games 3 and 4, two Wizards wins.

Getting him out of the game was a major break for the Raptors, but they couldn't take advantage. The Wizards closed the final five minutes on a 14-6 tear. John Wall stepped up to lead the charge with eight of those points.

The Wizards still had one star on the court and he played like one.

“Just go in attack mode," Wall said. "When Brad went out, I knew I had to do whatever it took... I just wanted to do whatever, so that we could advance to Game 5, tied 2-2.”

Once Beal composed himself, his confidence grew in his teammates. He and Wall feel comfortable playing without each other because they have done so often throughout their careers.

This year, Wall missed 41 games due to a left knee injury. Two years ago, Beal missed 27 games. Early on in his career, he had trouble staying healthy. Now he is an iron man who played in all 82 games during the 2017-18 regular season.

Beal has grown accustomed to being on the floor a lot, but he realized he can still affect the game from the sidelines.

"I just gathered my emotions, gathered my thoughts and told my team we were going to win, regardless. I knew if we still had John [Wall] in the game I loved our chances," Beal said. "Face the adversity that I had to overcome, just gather myself and be a leader, being vocal and keeping everyone encouraged in the game.”

Wall and others did the heavy lifting in the end. The Wizards used Kelly Oubre, Jr. as the shooting guard with Beal out and he made key plays down the stretch, including a steal on Kyle Lowry in the closing seconds.

The Wizards were thrown a significant curveball and they overcame it to put themselves in good position now having won two straight.

“You have to have resolve to win in this league," Brooks said. "You win playoff games and you win playoff series with having that. We have that, and we have to continue to have that because we have to win two more games and one of them has to be on the road."

When it comes to the officiating, the Wizards deserve credit for their resilience and restraint early in Game 4. The Raptors had 16 free throws in the first quarter compared to the Wizards' four. Washington perservered and ended up with more free throws (31) than the Raptors (30) did for the game.

In Game 1, the Wizards appeared to be affected by a lack of foul calls. That came was called loosely by the referees, while this one was officiated tightly. Though Beal went off, the Wizards for the most part stayed the course and were rewarded for it.

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The Wizards supplied all the highlights and fireworks; 5 must-see moments from Game 4

The Wizards supplied all the highlights and fireworks; 5 must-see moments from Game 4

WASHINGTON -- As the home team in a dire situation you have to take advantage, and that is exactly what the Washington Wizards did in their 106-98 win over the Toronto Raptors.

Highlight reel play after highlight reel play, the Wizards ignited the crowd with some of their best plays from the entire season to make it 2-2 in the series. Here are just a few of them:

1. John Wall collects posters in the first half

The first one was perhaps the best. Everything was going wrong for the Wizards, poor turnovers, bad shots, a three from Toronto. Then John Wall had enough. Not only did he fly past his defender Kyle Lowry, but he went up and slammed one home past the 7-foot Jonas Valanciunas. Up until that point, the Wizards were shooting 1-for-7.

Rinse and repeat, except this time Jakob Poeltl was Wall’s victim.

2. Wall to Beal alley-oop in transition

With the Wizards’ offense faltering, the Raptors remained on the verge of blowing the game open throughout the second quarter. But with a steal from Otto Porter Jr., Wall hung up the ball for Bradley Beal to slam home. The alley-oop kept the Wizards within single digits in the second with an uninspiring offensive effort.

3. Otto Porter breaks out of the half

A subdued offensive start to the game was due in part to the production from Porter. In the first half he went 0-for-4 with one point in nearly 17 minutes of action.

Throw that away in the second half. He broke out of halftime with back-to-back threes and 10 of the Wizards’ 26 in a monster 26-14 run to take the lead back in the third.

He finished the quarter with 10 points, an assist, and two blocks.

4. The Polish Hammer throwing it home

Are you convinced yet that Marcin Gortat’s new haircut is doing him some good? Gortat squeezed through two Raptors’ defenders, threw it down, gave a Goliath-type roar to the crowd before officially bringing the hammer down. 

5. Beal being called for his sixth foul of the game

Agree with the call or not, there is no denying that Beal’s removal from the game lit a fire underneath the Wizards. From that point Washington went on a 14-6 scoring run to end the game, closing out for the win.

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