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Poor shooting sinks Trail Blazers during 117-102 loss to the LA Clippers: At the buzzer 3/20/2023 Aaron Fentress,

The Portland Trail Blazers hung around with the LA Clippers for most of their game Sunday night at the Moda Center and found themselves down just 101-95 with 7:59 remaining.

From that point on, however, the Clippers showed why they are firmly in the mix to earn a playoff berth in the Western Conference, while the Blazers are closer to falling to the fifth-worst record in the NBA than they are reaching 10th place.

The Clippers outscored the Blazers 16-7 in the final minutes to win 117-102.

“I thought the third quarter kind of hurt us a little bit, but we were still nip and tuck the whole time,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups told reporters. “We just could never pick up momentum the whole time.”

Jusuf Nurkic led the Blazers with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Damian Lillard scored 21 points and Anfernee Simons added 16 points. But they combined to go 2 of 14 on threes. As a team, the Blazers made just 6 of 26 threes (23.1%). Blazers forward Jerami Grant was out with a quad bruise.

Billups said he felt that the Blazers did a good job of taking what the Clippers gave them on offense by attacking the middle of the court with Nurkic and Drew Eubanks, who came off the bench for 10 points and eight rebounds.

When those two weren’t scoring, they combined for eight assists. The Blazers at halftime had 15 assists on 22 field goals.

But the Blazers couldn’t sustain that type of play without perimeter shooting help.

“I thought we had so many stretches where we had good looks, but we just couldn’t knock down, couldn’t make,” Billups said. “When you shoot 20% from three, it’s going to be an uphill battle pretty much every game.”

The Clippers, on the other hand, connected on 42.9%. Paul George scored 29 points and Kawhi Leonard added 24. Russell Westbrook shot just 3 of 12 from the field but finished the game with nine points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.


The 13th-place Blazers (31-40) lost to the Clippers (39-34) on a night when New Orleans (34-47), the Los Angeles Lakers (35-37) and Oklahoma City (35-36) all won. The Thunder moved to eighth place. The Pelicans moved to three games ahead of the Blazers in 12th place. The Blazers, who have now lost six consecutive games, trail the 10th-place Lakers (35-37) by 3½ games with 11 games remaining.

The Blazers have the sixth-worst record in the NBA. They lead Orlando (29-42), owners of the fifth-worst record, by just two games.


The Blazers play at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Utah Jazz (33-36 entering Saturday).

— Aaron Fentress | | @AaronJFentress (Twitter), @AaronJFentress (Instagram), @AaronFentress (Facebook). Subscribe to Oregonian/OregonLive newsletters and podcasts

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