George scores 21 as Clippers down shorthanded Blazers 102-90

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Paul George scored 21 points and the Los Angeles Clippers handed the shorthanded Portland Trail Blazers their third straight loss with a 102-90 victory Monday night.

Marcus Morris Jr. added 17 points and Luke Kennard, making his first start for the Clippers this season, finished with 15.

Jusuf Nurkic had a season-high 31 points for Portland, and Norman Powell finished with a season-best 29.

It was a tight game throughout. Brandon Boston Jr. hit a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to give the Clippers an 82-76 lead, but CJ Elleby answered with a 3 for the Blazers to keep it close.

Portland pulled to 88-86 on a pair of free throws from Powell with just under five minutes to go. After Reggie Jackson’s driving layup, Nurkic sank a jumper.

George’s dunk put the Clippers up 92-88 with 2:30 left. He added a pull-up jumper, and the Blazers couldn’t get any closer. Jackson finished with 16 points.

The Clippers had lost four of their previous five games, including a 104-99 defeat at Sacramento on Saturday.

Portland, playing under first-year coach Chauncey Billups, has lost two straight games by discouraging margins. The Blazers fell at home to San Antonio 114-83 last Thursday before losing to Boston 145-117 on Saturday.

The Blazers were without All-Star guard Damian Lillard for the fourth game because of an abdomen injury. Backup point guard Anfernee Simons was out because of a sprained right ankle.

Star guard CJ McCollum was a game-time decision but did not play because of a rib contusion.

The Clippers led for most of the opening half, but Nurkic hit a 3-pointer that tied the game at 36 and Portland pulled ahead on Powell’s pull-up jumper.

Dennis Smith Jr.’s 3-pointer gave the Blazers a 49-48 edge going into halftime. It was just Smith’s second start of the season.

George’s layup gave the Clippers a 77-72 lead late in the third quarter. Los Angeles was not able to stretch the lead to double digits.

TIP-INS

Clippers: Billups was an assistant under Clippers coach Tyronn Lue last season. It was the fourth of four meetings with the Blazers this season.

Trail Blazers: Adding to Portland’s woes, Nurkic was called for two fouls before the midway point of the opening quarter and headed to the bench, where he stomped his feet in frustration. … Powell led all scorers at half with 18 points. … Ben McLemore exited with left hip pain.

UP NEXT

The Clippers host the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.

The Trail Blazers visit the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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