Trail Blazers vs Warriors Wednesday, 04/17/13 AT 07:00PM

Batum Triple-Double, Late Run Help Trail Blazers Beat Clips

01/27/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    Nicolas Batum's second triple double of the week was finally one he wants to count. The Trail Blazers (22-21) outlasted a run from the Clippers to win 101-100.  The Trail Blazers closed the game on a 10-0 run to win the game in the final 2:21.

    "It was good to wins close one again," Terry Stotts said. "It had been a while. To end the game on a 10-0 run with 2 and a half minutes to go was kind of a testament to what we've done most of the season. We don't quit, we bounce back, we're resilient."

    The Trail Blazers jumped out to a great start and got out to a nice lead. They were steady on the offensive end and they weren't letting the Clippers funnel their pick and rolls to the side like they did in the previous match-up. JJ Hickson (15 points, seven rebounds) brought the energy early in the game for the Trail Blazers, getting a few dunks, leading the Trail Blazers in the first quarter with 7 points. For the Clippers, without Chris Paul, they went to their All-Star forward Blake Griffin. However, the Trail Blazers were close after the last first quarter against the Clippers and let their good work go terribly wrong in the second quarter.

    Tonight, the Trail Blazers bench didn't let that happen.

    Terry Stotts went to a similar rotation that he went to in the Pacers game going with Meyers Leonard (16 minutes, six points, four rebounds) and Jared Jeffries (eight minutes, two points) as the two big men off the bench and a backcourt of Ronnie Price (10 minutes, three points, one assist) and Will Barton (16 minutes, five points). Unlike the previous match-up where the second unit was dominated, it was Portland's second unit that did the dominating as they were were forcing the Clippers into bad shots and getting out into transition. Leonard was hitting jumpers and Barton and Price had their perimeter jumpers going. The highlight of the stretch that saw Portland's lead extend to 14 was this alley-oop dunk by Barton.

    While all of this was going on, Batum was quietly working on his triple-double. 5 points in a quarter here, six there, five assists over here, a couple of boards. He was all over the place. His final line was 20 points, 12 assists (a career-high) and 10 rebounds. The Trail Blazers kept up the tempo. even when the Clippers had a 31-point third quarter, they matched it with Batum leading the charge on both ends. After his triple-double against Washington on Monday, Batum didn't want to count it. When asked if he has one or two triple-doubles, he answered "one."

    It wasn't all roses for Batum and the Trail Blazers, however. The Clippers made a charge and Jamal Crawford got hot in the second half, scoring 16 of 19 points in the third quarter. Portland's offense came to a sputtering halt after some great defense from the Clippers. The Clippers carried a nine point lead with 2:21 left after having trailed by 14 points. However, a Damian Lillard (20 points) three-pointer got the ball rolling and the comeback was on.

    Hickson had a dunk on the following possession and after another stop, Wesley Matthews was fouled on a lay-up that impossibly sunk. He would make the free-throw and Portland had to get a stop again. They did and Blake Griffin (24 points) was called for a loose ball foul against JJ Hickson. Portland was in the penalty and Hickson went to the line for two shots.

    Just the other night against the Cavaliers on January 16th, Hickson missed two late free-throws that could have extended the game. Hickson remembered those free-throws when he went to the line for tonight.

    "Yeah I was actually (thinking about the two missed free throws against Cleveland). I was walking to the line and if you kind of watched, I had a pep in my step walking to the line. I got the ball, took my time and knocked down two free throws."

    Hickson said he got down on himself after the Cleveland game but vowed to make his "big free throws" the next time. He made good, made the free throws and gave the Trail Blazers the lead.

    "Clutch, clutch, he was clutch at the end," Batum said of Hickson's free throws.

    Jamal Crawford had a few chances to win the game late but Portland's defense held strong and they finally got a close win, the type they had become so accustomed to earlier in the season.

    The Trail Blazers fly to LA tonight to face the Clippers again tomorrow.

    "We have to do a better job rebounding, but I'm looking forward to tomorrow night. I'm sure they'll make some adjustments and we have some adjustments to make too," Stotts said.

    That game will start at 6:30 and will be shown on CSNNW. It can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

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