Paul George scored 21 points and Marcus Morris Sr. added 17 as the visiting Los Angeles Clippers pulled off a 102-90 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday in a battle of makeshift lineups.
Reggie Jackson scored 16 points and Luke Kennard had 15 in his first start of the season as the Clippers continue to search for productive combinations while they forge ahead without star Kawhi Leonard following his offseason knee surgery.
The Clippers won for just the fourth time in their last 11 games, but did go 2-1 in completing a three-game road swing.
Jusuf Nurkic scored a season-high 31 points for the Trail Blazers, while Norman Powell scored 29 points in a lead guard role. Powell’s responsibilities were increased on a night when Portland was without Damian Lillard (abdomen) and CJ McCollum (ribs).
Dennis Smith Jr. scored 13 points for the Blazers in just his second start of the season, while Tony Snell had just four points in his third start.
One game after giving up 145 points in a home loss to the Boston Celtics, Portland was much better on defense, although the result was the same. The Clippers won despite shooting just 30.6 percent from 3-point range, while the Blazers fared worse, at 22.7 percent from distance.
Portland was just 1 of 11 from the field to open the fourth quarter, but still were within 90-88 with less than three minutes to play and had the ball to tie or take the lead. After the Blazers’ Robert Covington missed 3-pointer, George drove the lane for a dunk and a 92-88 Clippers advantage with 2:30 to go.
George then scored from 18 feet with 1:59 remaining for a 94-88 lead, while Nurkic was assessed a flagrant foul on the play when he elbowed Los Angeles’ Isaiah Hartenstein in the chin.
Hartenstein made a free throw for a 95-88 advantage, and delivered a dunk inside for a 97-88 lead with 1:47 remaining after the ball was returned to the Clippers.
Clippers rookie Brandon Boston Jr. matched a season high with 13 points. Covington had 10 rebounds for Portland.