NBA: Trail Blazers sink Clippers in six games
The Portland Trail Blazers closed out the shorthanded Los Angeles Clippers in six games on Friday night, while the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat both lived to fight another day.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 46 points to lead the Trail Blazers past the Clippers 106-103 at Portland’s Moda Center.
Lillard scored 26 points and McCollum added 20 as the Trail Blazers closed out the Clippers in six games in their first-round NBA playoff series.
Indiana overpowered the Toronto Raptors in the second half of the game to stay alive and level their series 3-3 with a 101-83 victory.
The Heat also bought themselves more postseason time with a 97-90 victory over the Charlotte Hornets to even their East series at three games all.
Mason Plumlee contributed nine points — including the deciding three free throws in the final 14.7 seconds — and grabbed 14 rebounds for Portland, which opens second round Sunday at Golden State against the Warriors.
“I was really happy with the way we executed down the stretch. We did the things necessary to win the game,” Lillard said.
Jamal Crawford came off the bench for a career playoff-high 32 points for the Clippers, but missed on a driving layup that could have tied the game in the closing seconds.
Austin Rivers collected 22 points, eight assists and six rebounds while DeAndre Jordan had 15 points and 20 boards for the losers. River needed 11 stitches around his eye after taking an elbow in the face in the first quarter while going for a rebound. He left for repairs before returning in the second quarter.
Clippers blamed the loss on the injuries to star guard Chris Paul and forward Blake Griffin as they joined the Boston Celtics (1990-93) as the only teams eliminated in four straight playoffs after having series leads.
“You can only control so many things and injuries is something you can’t control. If you took off the two best players from any team in the league they would struggle,” said Crawford.