Chris Paul returned to the Los Angeles Clippers starting lineup on Sunday night against the Philadelphia, but it was clear after the first quarter that the Clips would have been fine without him. The Clippers first quarter explosion saw them take a 46-15 lead after the first period. The final tally was (123-78) but it did not do justice to how much of a thrashing it was. At one point in the third quarter the Clippers held a 56 point advantage thanks to a pair of sick alley pop jams by Blake Griffin(assisted by Paul) the Staples Center was rocking as the Clippers hope to hit their stride with the return of arguably the best guard on the planet.
LAC will host the Portland Trailblazers tonight and have the opportunity to tie the Trailblazers for 3rd in the Western Conference. Portland fell last night at home in a tightly contested (98-95) battle with the Oklahoma City Thunder. When the Clippers last squared off against Portland, they fell 116-112 in overtime at the the Rose Garden, a game in which Chris Paul took over hitting his last four field goals, going toe-to-toe with the efficient Portland offense. Hopefully the Clippers will be able to take advantage of the almost three days between games and come out fast against a Blazers team which I anticipate to be sluggish.
The two teams appear to be on different trajectories as the Clippers will be attempting to win their fifth straight while Portland has fallen in 6 of their last 9 contests. The teams recent success has manifested itself in the attitudes of its’ members as Blake Griffin said yesterday “We are hitting our stride”, and the timing could not be better. With an opportunity to overtake 3rd tonight, the Clippers would find themselves only four games back of the Thunder with a win.
This contest comes with no shortage of high profile match ups as All-Stars Chris Paul and Damian Lillard square off at the point guard position. Wesley Mathews will need display his defensive prowess tonight when as he will be tasked with limiting the prolific scoring of Jamal Crawford, who scored 12 points in 4 minutes against the 76ers on Sunday. Finally, Blake Griffin will matchup with LaMarcus Aldridge, who has been struggling as of late. There is no doubt this will be a competitive, physical matchup between two teams who would like to hit the All-Star break on a positive note.