Tuesday night, it was a battle between two teams who were without their superstars.
And it was close throughout.
Damian Lillard (right hamstring tendinopathy), Jusuf Nurkic (right knee, injury management), and Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture) were on the Blazers' inactive list.
For the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard (right foot; soreness), Patrick Beverley (left hand; fourth metacarpal fracture) and Serge Ibaka (lower back; tightness) were out.
But despite the Blazers being down two starters, Portland brought the energy and looked better prepared in their matchups.
However, it was Paul George who had the last word, hitting a pair of free throws to help the Clippers defeat the Blazers, 113-112.
Portland and L.A. traded baskets most of the night, but especially to start.
Thanks to a CJ McCollum runner to beat the buzzer, the Blazers held a 31-30 lead at the end of the first quarter.
With Derrick Jones Jr. inserted into the starting lineup, he had the tough assignment of slowing down Paul George. It was more of a team effort when Jones Jr. went to the bench.
At the break, the Blazers held a 60-56 lead, but that was after the Clippers quickly erased a 10-point deficit in the last two minutes of the second quarter.
While Paul George still got his points, finishing with a game-high 33 points, the Blazers got just enough timely stops down the stretch.
CJ McCollum poured in the scoring in the second half. Portland took an 86-82 lead heading into the final period.
And it was Nassir Little and Anfernee Simons who provided a scoring punch from behind the arc early in the fourth quarter.
In the loss, McCollum missed a tough potential game-winner, but finished with a team-high 28 points to go along with four assists.
The Blazers were on the attack early. Norman Powell led the way in success at the rim. Powell showed off his crafty play as he scored in a variety of ways all night.
Powell finished with 23 points on an efficient 10-for-20 shooting.
With both Nurkic and Lillard out, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts went with a smaller bench lineup. Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little saw significant minutes. The two brought the energy on both ends. Little took on the challenge of guarding George in the first half, but showed his youth with George overpowering the second-year player.
After struggling on the boards in the first half, Enes Kanter looked more aggressive on the glass in the second half despite being hit with three fouls to start the third quarter.
L.A.’s frontcourt of Paul George, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac, along with DeMarcus Cousins off the bench, had their way with the Blazers defense at times, especially when they spread the floor.
Portland going with a small-ball second unit meant Carmelo Anthony spent a lot of time defending DeMarcus Cousins. Melo and Boogie exchanged words and elbows in the second quarter.
Derrick Jones Jr. showed off airplane mode:
Portland notched five steals in the first half to L.A.’s one.
Next up: The Trail Blazers will be right back at it Wednesday night when they host the Denver Nuggets. The Blazers and Nuggets tip-off at 7:00p.m. PST on NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers.