LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Clippers and Trail Blazers went back and forth for 48 minutes. When it was over, Los Angeles escaped with perhaps its most satisfying victory of the season — and Portland was saddled with its second heartbreaking loss in 48 hours.
Blake Griffin scored 36 points, Chris Paul had 20 points and 12 assists, and the Clippers beat the Trail Blazers 122-117 on Wednesday night in the final game for both teams before the All-Star break.
The Clippers, who set a franchise record for largest victory Sunday in their 45-point thrashing of Philadelphia, converted 16 Portland turnovers into 20 points during a nip-and-tuck affair that included 40 lead changes.
"We were up one, down one, up one," Paul said. "I told them in the timeout: 'Fellas, we need to get a score and a stop.' I told B.G. if we get a score and a stop, it changes the whole game. It was frustrating because it was me making mistakes on defense, and they were getting shots. But all in all, it was a good win for us."
The Clippers won for the 14th time in 19 games since Jan. 4, when the Spurs handed them their worst loss of the season, 116-92 in San Antonio. Paul made 10 of 15 shots in his second game back after missing 18 with a separated right shoulder.
"It's definitely not (100 percent)," he said. "But as long as I'm not hindering my team and my teammates, I feel I can be effective out there."
Jamal Crawford added 25 points for the defending Pacific Division champions, who go into All-Star weekend 37-18 — their second-best winning percentage at the break in franchise history. They were 39-17 last season, when they finished 56-26 and won their first division title.
Los Angeles and Portland are each 5½ games behind Oklahoma City for the best record in the Western Conference.
"I'm in a great place, as far as our team going into the break," Paul said. "It's one of the best feelings I've had about a team since I've been in the league, just strictly because of defense. The biggest thing with us is that everyone has bought into the defensive end. We understand that we can score every night, but it's going to be our defense that carries us."
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points and Damian Lillard had 21 for the Blazers, who are 5-8 since a five-game winning streak last month. The loss was their fifth straight to the Clippers at Staples Center.