LA Clippers' Reserves Pull Off Upset Win Over Portland Trail Blazers
Going into Saturday's contest with the Portland Trail Blazers, few expected the LA Clippers to come out on top. Down three key players in Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell, the odds were seemingly stacked against them.
In fact, it was almost more favorable for the Clippers to lose than it was to win. A win for the Blazers would have put them in a better position to contend for the Western Conference's final seed, and that, in turn, could mean the Los Angeles Lakers could have a tougher first-round opponent.
None of that mattered, though, because rather than conceding to the Blazers, the Clippers had one of their most well-rounded offensive performances of the season and pulled away late to win 122-117.
The Blazers were in control for the majority of the game, but the Clippers mounted an impressive comeback in the final minutes that swung things in their direction.
After Portland took a 115-110 lead with 2:58 left in the fourth quarter, LA — with Terance Mann, Rodney McGruder, Landry Shamet, Patrick Patterson and JaMychal Green on the floor against the Blazers' starters — mounted a 12-2 run. McGruder delivered the final dagger, drilling a game-winning three with 26.5 seconds left on the clock.
Six of LA's 10 active players scored in double-figures, while three others recorded at least seven points. Landry Shamet, who has struggled to get his shot going in the bubble so far, finished with 19 points on 12 attempts from the floor.
"We executed, we listened in our huddles," Shamet said after the game. "We talked to each other, communicated and just kept playing. We pride ourselves on that. It's playoff time, we're trying to tune-up."
The loss pushed Portland 1.5 games back of the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed and kept teams like the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans very much alive in the hunt for No. 9.
Head Coach Doc Rivers was asked if he pays attention to the situation near the bottom of the Western Conference Playoff standings, and he quickly gave his stance on that:
"Yeah, that's not our problem," Rivers said. "We said that before the game... It's a competition. It always is, it always will be, and I want our guys feeling that way."
Beverley and Harrell will likely remain out for the Clippers' contest with the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, but Leonard will be back in the lineup after missing today's leg of the back-to-back.