Trail Blazers wither under pressure similar to that of the Clippers’ postseason

The Clippers gave the Trail Blazers their second loss in three games via a 133-116 score on Tuesday. Portland fell behind early against Los Angeles, giving up 47 points to Paul George and the Clippers in the first frame. The Blazers rallied in single digits, but the Clippers’ overall defensive focus against Damian Lillard kept Portland’s comeback attempt below the mark.

Individually, Norman Powell picked up the Blazers’ scoring charge with 32 points. Lillard, who faced pressure all night, was limited to 11 points. For the Clippers, George and Kawhi Leonard combined for 65 points.

You can check out the quarter-by-quarter breakdown in our instant overview. Along with that analysis, here are the key points that stood out in the Clippers’ 17-point win over the Blazers.

Similar pressure to the postseason

The Blazers offense got an early taste of the postseason defense on Tuesday. The Clippers, from the early lead, focused on getting the ball out of Lillard’s hands early and often. This is nothing new for the Blazers, but that game plan greatly derailed Portland’s offense.

Derrick Jones Jr. won the Aminu-all-alone award; You could say that Jones earned a AAA rating from Los Angeles. The Clippers challenged the former Heat forward to shoot every time he was on the court, and Jones rarely made Los Angeles pay for that decision.

On the bright side, Powell and Enes Kanter made the most of their growing role. Powell cut through the Clippers defense with ease and mixed things up with attempts to catch and shoot from beyond the arc. While he didn’t appear in the bottom line, Powell possesses the tools to thrive when opponents exhaust themselves to stop Lillard. The former Raptors point guard finished with 32 points and four rebounds.

McCollum takes the reins

With Lillard suffocated, McCollum took over as lead facilitator. Make no mistake, the former Lehigh standout is a dynamic offensive player. But the gravity it generates is drastically different from that of its racing partner on the back track. Still, McCollum and Kanter executed a handful of two-man actions to perfection. Kanter, who scored another double-double night, consistently produced favorable looks on pick-and-roll sets.

As a facilitator, McCollum recorded six assists and committed only one rotation. On top of that, he added 24 points of his own to the final tally.

Squeeze the margins

The Blazers won the offensive rebounding battle, attempted seven more free throws and committed fewer turnovers in Tuesday’s loss. Regardless of that favorable trio of results, the Blazers finished on the wrong side of a double-digit margin. On paper, it is a perfect representation of the difficulties that bad defensive teams must face against quality opponents.

Before the Blazers managed to gain ground, the Clippers produced 47 points in a single quarter. Paul George scored 22 points before Portland’s first double-team materialized. Even after better defensive performance in the final three quarters, the Clippers managed to shoot 51.7 percent from the field.

Bank absent

Before disconnecting with four minutes to go in the final frame, the Blazers had just six players with double-digit minutes. For context, the Clippers had nine players over 10 minutes in that same crossover. In the points column, Portland’s reserves produced 21 points on 24 attempts from the field. Reggie Jackson, who played 26 minutes off the bench for the Clippers, had 23 points on 12 attempts from the field.

Until next time

Score chart

The Blazers return to action Thursday to face the Jazz.

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