Norma Powell, Clippers bench rally late to beat Trail Blazers

When the back of Reggie Jackson’s head hit hardwood late in the second quarter on Tuesday, the thump was heard throughout the Moda Center after a hard fall.

Jackson lay on the ground for a few seconds as five Clippers teammates rushed over to check on their launch point guard.

It was an ominous sign for a Clippers team that was already missing four of its most dangerous players. A quarter later, even after Jackson returned, it was the Clippers who looked lifeless as their deficit rose to 18 with just 15 minutes remaining.

No one is sure what will become of this version of the Clippers, whether a title chase is really within the realm of possibility, or whether they can remain healthy enough to turn potential into reality. But on a late November night in a game that missed its marquee stars, the Clippers morphed into a crazed group that suddenly overwhelmed Portland in one hell of a fourth quarter, a comeback that saw former Trailblazer Norman Powell roar into the crowd and his fist pumped for goal in the final seconds

Powell repeatedly punished the Blazers with drives to the rim and hit five layups in the final quarter. After Jackson, who finished with 24 points, played the entire second half. He went into the dressing room and didn’t yell at anyone about his fall: “Boy, am I going to feel that on the plane?”

It will be a lucky trip to Salt Lake City for Wednesday’s game after doing the unexpected and improving to 13-9 by making a final lineup with rookie Moussa Diabate, who is in Ontario with the G-League franchise of the Woke teams with all six had NBA minutes under his belt. The 6-foot-9 Michigan forward played every second in the fourth quarter.

The comeback also had an unlikely contribution in Jason Preston, the backup point guard, who was out last season with a foot injury and made his first NBA basket with a three-pointer in the first quarter. Preston was needed because John Wall, who normally handles bench offense, was off playing due to treatment for left knee injuries and continuing the team’s practice of not playing Wall on consecutive nights.

The Clippers gave up 37 points to Anfernee Simons and 32 to Jerami Grant, but late in the game focused the full intensity of their defensive efforts on this duo, forcing players like Justise Winslow and Josh Hart to blunt their rally. It never happened as the Clippers made 12 of their 21 shots in the fourth quarter, plus nine of their 12 free throws.

Trailing 110-108 with 2:35 minutes remaining, Jackson’s drive into the key set up a green three-pointer from Nicolas Batum, the former Trailblazer who spent his first seven seasons in Portland.

After a layup by Powell took the Clippers lead to 115-112 with 1:35 left, Diabate blocked a Simons shot and started a procession of fans to the exits. Portland never scored again. The Trail Blazers played without star guard Damian Lillard.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/clippers/story/2022-11-29/clippers-at-trail-blazers-nba-recap Norma Powell, Clippers bench rally late to beat Trail Blazers

Emma Bowman

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