Clippers beat Portland 116-86 to grab first win of the season

Los Angeles, CA – Third time’s a charm. After two games in which the Los Angeles Clippers couldn’t keep the momentum going, they finally figured it out against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.

A strong first period helped set the tone that helped Los Angeles pick up the 116-86 result at Staples Center. This was the Clippers’ first win of the regular season. 

“I thought we played two good games against Memphis and Golden State. We just couldn’t get over the hump,” Los Angeles head coach Tyronne Lue said. “We just gotta keep building.” 

The game started out close but Los Angeles pulled away in the last four minutes of the first quarter to grab a 31-17 advantage. Unlike the last game, the Clippers were able to hold on to their early lead.

Portland’s CJ McCollum had five points after going 2-for-7 during that period. The Los Angeles defense can’t take all the credit, as a handful of those shots were wide open. However, the offense did outplay the away team as early as that first quarter. As a whole, the Trail Blazers shot at 33.3% from the field during the first 12 minutes. Meanwhile, the Clippers shot at 52%. 

Paul George and Reggie Jackson were leading all scorers with eight points apiece. Luke Kennard followed closely with seven points, but then he decided to take over. 

Kennard picked up the pace in the second quarter to finish the half with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. Even though both teams scored 25 points in the second period, the Clippers entered the break with a comfortable 56-41 lead.

Los Angeles pushed harder in the third and beat the Trail Blazers 35-19. After that, there wasn’t much Portland could do in the fourth. Terance Mann hit a big three-pointer with 8:50 still remaining in the game as the Clippers reached 100 points and Portland was at 65. Portland head coach Chauncey Billups called a timeout, but the Trail Blazers were already too far behind and Los Angeles wasn’t slowing down. Neither was Kennard. 

The Clippers guard ended the night with 20 points shooting at 80% from the field and 85.7% from beyond the arc. His six three-pointers were a career-tying stat for him.

“Any given night could be anybody’s night. Tonight was Luke Kennard,” Lue said. 

Kennard achieved that coming from the bench. Some of the starters struggled with shooting including, Eric Bledsoe (2-of-8) and Jackson (6-of-20). George, who went off for 41 points last game, only picked up 16 points on Monday going 6-of-16 from the field. However, Lue pointed out that when players don’t score, they can still help out in other ways. 

George registered eight steals on Monday, a career-high.

“He’s been doing it for so long. He’s always been one of the top two way players in the league,” the coach said. 

The Clippers as a whole had 21 steals, which was the most steals since they registered 21 on Nov. 8, 1991 against Denver.

Up next, Los Angeles will host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.