The losing streak of the Trail Blazers expanded to three games after losing the 107-101 to the Clippers on Thursday. Portland overcame a slow start on offense to control the lead for an extended second half. Due to the rally by Lou Williams and Kauhi Leonard in the fourth quarter, this advantage would not be retained. Outside of an unforgettable first half and a rough final three minutes, the Blazers showed signs of improvement.
Losing is never perfect, but Anferni Simmons and Hassan Whiteside made valuable contributions in the second half. In order for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to succeed, these efforts will have to become the standard for the Blazers with sustained injuries.
The action opened when the Clippers pressed the pace of insult, a departure from their form early in the season. Using the movements of Patrick Beverly and Kauhi Leonard to descend, LA created an open look. When these shots did not fall, the Clippers feasted on offensive boards caused by the forced rotation of the Blazers' inner defenders. Coach Doc Rivers finished the starting frame with seven offensive tackles, a five-board advantage in that column.
Offensively, CJ McCollum only made one of his first five attempts. Lillard stabilized the Blazers' seven-point lead, with Kent Bazemore keeping pace with Lou Williams after the second units hit the court. The Clippers finished the first quarter with a 26-22 lead.
The modest first quarter indicators reached a new level of cold in the second quarter. One-pass properties for the Blazers resulted in contested looks from all three levels, lowering their field goal percentage to a low 32 percent at halftime. The Portland firing squad was complicated by Whiteside's dominance of the Tooth Stub. The Clippers' big clipper easily secured fights, assembled motions after publications, and filled his colleague's attempts at the opposite end.
In the fight aside, there were a couple of positives for the Blazers in the second period: Mario Hezonja's defense against Leonard and Lillard's one-man effort to keep Portland at a striking distance. The Clippers headed for the locker room with a 47-40 lead.
The Blazers came out of halftime with completely different energies. Obstructed by the suddenly mobile Whiteside, the Clippers' advantage over glass suddenly disappeared. That enthusiasm carried over to the offensive end, where the former big HEAT began to roll to the basket off the screens, creating chances to mark the rim. Lillard and McCallum added to Whiteside's efforts with cunning dribbling movements. Both guards took turns alternating, firing their respective defenders with careful attempts at the inside of the arc.
The Blazers finished the third quarter with a 76-70 lead.
After Whiteside's efforts to retreat in the third quarter, Simmons turned to the spotlight. Simmons established control early, exploding for all 12 of the Blazers' points in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. Built by its external firing, Simmons opened the sails and controlled the tempo with its external firing.
The pursuit of Portland began its disappearing act when a three-headed LA attack took place. Montrez Harrel helped the Clippers regain their reigning dominance, Williams secured a timely record, and Leonard imposed his will in the tone of the 18-point fourth quarter. Leonard's late arrival softened the Blazers 'lead, but Williams crushed a three-point shot with 32.5 seconds left, which extended the Clippers' lead to 103-99. Portland never recovered, relaying the victory after a lengthy free-throw exhibition in recent times.
Backed by a scandalous half-life analysis by the TNT team, Whiteside's efforts were carefully considered. He was absolutely burned in the first half at both ends of the court. Whiteside was routinely taken out of the blocks when he was hunting for blocks instead of fights, and he was running late to release his opponent when his attempts were beyond the arc. He was offensively off the screens, often staying in place instead of moving to the basket. When he caught the ball, he too often intervened to shoot smaller defenders instead of aiming at the rim.
The third quarter brought a slight retreat. Whiteside moved his legs and he was able to play the Tooth off the court. Until an even effort is made, Whiteside's critics will have plenty of ammunition. Whiteside finished with 17 points and 19 rebounds (nine offensive) in 27 minutes of action.
Current Against the Future
The battle between the reserve guards served as an excellent underdog for Thursday's race. Both Simmons and Williams dominated the action at certain times. Williams proved he could easily generate something from nothing. Even more impressive than that, he somehow maintains chemistry with his teammates, regardless of the floor staff. Simmons showed the early framework of the same archetype. Due to his ability to change the floor space and beat his opponents at his own speed, Simmons becomes a key ingredient for the second block and time series.
Williams finished with 26 points, Simmons continued with 17 of his own.  Running Backworth
Lillard finished with 22 points and six assists. His best work came against Landry Schamet's second-year wing. The former Wichita guard is struggling to find the answer to the riddle Lillard has introduced.
McCallum's quiet start was saved by a 14-point performance in the second half. Like Lillard, McCollum finished with 22 points. The former Lehigh team continued to fight beyond the rainbow. During the current loss of the Portland tripartite series, McCollum traveled 3-16 from distance.
The Blazers return to Portland to face the nets on Friday.