Clippers vs. Blazers Game Notes
The Portland Trail Blazers come to Los Angeles for the second time in less than a month, but this time with a new look – Carmelo Anthony is their starting power forward.
The reigning Western Conference Player of the Week is averaging 17.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game on 46.2% shooting from the field, and the Clippers were consistent across the board in their belief that Melo deserved another shot to play in the NBA. As he has acclimated to his new team, the Blazers have won their last three games and are still in the mix for their 7th-straight postseason appearance.
The Clippers have their own counter to Portland's increased firepower, as Paul George will be playing in this matchup for the first time since being eliminated by the Blazers in the playoffs last year, when he suited up for Oklahoma City.
Moe Harkless, a member of that Portland team, had some fun at George and Patrick Patterson's expense before the season started, but now the three are in common pursuit of a win over the newly-resurgent Blazers.
Harkless has taken on a new responsibility for the Clippers since that last matchup. He entered the starting lineup and has become the team's de facto point guard stopper; it's a role that he had to convince Doc Rivers and defensive assistant Rex Kalamian that he was suited for, and now he takes pride in the responsibility.
That task will prove challenging once again tonight as Harkless will be defending Damian Lillard, his former teammate and the engine of the eighth-ranked offense in the league.
"It's different, it's fun though. Getting out and chasing guys around, and a lot of nights the point guard is pretty much the key to their offense, so having the opportunity to slow somebody down like that, like tonight, with Damian, having an opportunity to slow him down, he's the motor for that team, it's something that I enjoy. It's a challenge and it's fun," Harkless said at shootaround Tuesday.
As for any tricks for guarding Lillard, Harkless added, "I think I've seen enough of him to kind of know a little bit."
The Clippers won the previous meeting 107-101 thanks to a strong fourth-quarter effort from Kawhi Leonard. He is currently the second-leading scorer in the NBA in the final period at 9.7 points, behind only James Harden (10.2).
- Landry Shamet remains out with an ankle injury. He was seen on the treadmill at the end of shootaround.
- Rodney McGruder (hamstring) and JaMychal Green (tailbone contusion) were both not present when the media was allowed in at shootaround. McGruder was listed as out on the injury report while Green was questionable. Expect Patrick Patterson to have a larger role if Green is unavailable.