Kurt Helin

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Allen Crabbe knows it’s time for him, Blazers’ bench to step up against Warriors

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — It’s clear to Allen Crabbe – and just about everyone else who’s watching – that Portland’s bench needs to do more against the Warriors.

And Crabbe is pointing to himself as someone who needs to step up.

The Trail Blazers’ reserves had a combined 35 points Wednesday night when starters Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum struggled with only 23 points between the two of them, and Golden State won 110-81. The bench sparked a rally for a time in the second quarter but couldn’t match the depth of the Warriors at the end, finishing 13 of 32 from the field and 4 of 18 from 3-point range.

That’s not going to be enough to beat Golden State, which got 50 from its bench. Still, it was an improvement over Game 1, when Portland’s backups had a combined nine points in a 121-109 Warriors win.

Crabbe has been especially frustrated, with just three points in the opening game of the series and six in the second.

“Definitely not playing the way that I wanted to, not really contributing the way I wanted to offensively,” the 6-foot-6 wing said. “So it is kind of frustrating. But that’s the sweet thing about it. It’s a seven-game and we’ve still got more games to play, so I’ve still got time to pick it up.”

Now the series moves to Portland for Game 3 on Saturday, giving the Blazers a chance to play catch-up at home. Reserve play will be vitally important for the Blazers, especially if Lillard and McCollum are again held back by the Warriors.

Crabbe similarly got off to a slow start in last year’s first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers but improved and scored 20 points in Game 5 against Golden State in the second round. Overall, he averaged 9.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 11 playoff games last year.

“As a shooter on this team, as somebody who can score off the bench, that’s what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to just keep shooting the ball and wait until it starts falling for me,” he said Friday at the Blazers’ practice facility. “It will pick up from there.”

Crabbe averaged 10.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists overall this season after signing a four-year contract worth $75 million with the Blazers last summer. He had a season-high 30 points in an overtime victory over Detroit in January. He also broke out in a 105-98 victory over the Timberwolves in early March with 25 points, including a career-high eight 3-pointers – just one off the franchise record by a reserve.

In his last 10 games of the regular season, he averaged nearly 12 points but he missed Portland’s three final regular-season games with left foot soreness after an MRI revealed inflammation.

The Blazers’ bench was an issue during the regular season – they were ranked 26th in the league – but as Portland rebounded after the All-Star break, so did the reserves.

With Lillard and McCollum resting after Portland clinched a playoff berth, point guard Shabazz Napier scored 32 points in a 99-98 victory over the San Antonio Spurs, who played their starters.

Napier was the top player off the bench in Game 2 of the playoffs, with 10 points.

Coach Terry Stotts said it’s a whole-team effort if the Blazers want to make some noise. Last season, Portland came back after a 0-2 deficit to beat the Clippers in the opening round.

“I think it’s important that all the players on the court – that everybody’s ready to make contributions,” Stotts said. “We made it a competitive series last year because it was a team effort. And we need the same team effort.”

Crabbe, like many of the other players at the practice facility on the eve of Game 3, characterized it as a must-win.

“We know how important this game is,” he said. “We’re locked in and we’re gonna go out there, gotta give it our all.”

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Clippers’ Blake Griffin out for remainder of playoffs with injury to right foot, big toe


Once again, the Clippers — and Blake Griffin in particular — have been hit by the injury bug come the playoffs.

Griffin had to leave Game 3 of the Clippers/Jazz series with a toe injury. Saturday, the Clippers announced Griffin is out for the remainder of the playoffs with an injury to the plantar plate of his right big toe. He will see a specialist when the Clippers return to Los Angeles, and from there a course of treatment will be determined, the team announced.

The plantar plate is a thick ligament that connects the toes to the rest of the foot. This ligament essentially keeps the toes in place, if it is torn the toes can move around and drift. It is incredibly painful to walk on as well, which obviously rules out running, leaping, and playing basketball. Treatment depends on the tear in the plate, but it can involve surgery.

The injury appeared to happen with just under four minutes to go in the second quarter. Griffin made a steal and pushed the ball down the court himself, finishing a layup past Rodney Hood. After Griffin landed, he was instantly limping. Griffin’s reaction when the injury happened — slamming a chair and reportedly saying “it is worse than it looks” — suggest he knew it was bad when it happened.

Last season the Clippers lost to Portland in the first round to Portland when Griffin suffered a quad injury then Chris Paul suffered a hand injury that sidelined the duo.

Los Angeles went on to win Game 3 Friday night behind a dominant second half from Chris Paul. The Clippers leaned heavily on the Paul/DeAndre Jordan pick-and-roll to create offense, and without Rudy Gobert — the Utah center is sidelined with a knee injury suffered in Game 1 — the Jazz were unable to slow it.

However, the Griffin injury makes it seemingly inevitable that the Clippers will not be making a deep playoff run. They have been hit by a string of bad luck in the playoffs for years, they’re a team that just can’t seem to catch a break. Last summer the Clippers spent a lot of money to bring their medical injury prevention efforts up to state-of-the-art. But luck still plays a big factor and that can’t be bought.

This injury and playoff exit will lead to some tough questions for Los Angeles this summer. Griffin, Paul, and Jordan have been together for six seasons and, if they fall in this round or the next this year, will have never made it out of the second round. Griffin and Paul can — and are expected to — opt out of the final year of their contracts this summer and become free agents, and J.J. Redick will hit the open market as well. How much is owner Steve Ballmer willing to pay to keep these guys together? Should they keep them together or break it up and try something else? There’s a lot of soul searching coming to L.A. this summer.

PBT Extra: Down 2-1, three things Raptors must do to even series


Milwaukee owned Game 3 of their first-round series against Toronto, putting the Bucks up 2-1 and looking to be in command on their home floor.

If Toronto goes down 3-1 Saturday they might as well start booking tee times for next week.

So what do the Raptors have to do to even the series? I break down the key points in this PBT Extra. But it all starts with Kyle Lowry being better off the pick-and-roll.

With Blake Griffin out Chris Paul dominates fourth quarter, leads Clippers to 115-111 win

Associated Press

In the first half it seemed everything went wrong for the Clippers.

First, Gordon Hayward went off for a Utah playoff record 21 points in the quarter on 7-of-8 shooting (he would finish the night with 40). Then late in the first half Blake Griffin suffered a bruised big toe — may well be a turf-toe injury — and he had to leave the game. Los Angeles was down 13 after one quarter and nine at the half, but more than that it was hard to see a path back to the win.

Then Chris Paul took over — he was the embodiment of the point god. CP3 had 24 second half points, he was attacking the paint or dishing to DeAndre Jordan rolling down the lane, and more than all that he completely controlled the flow of the contest.

He sparked a 15-0 Clipper run in the fourth — when the Jazz went scoreless for more than six minutes — to get Los Angeles a lead they would hold on to for a 115-111 road win.

The Clippers are now up 2-1 in the series with Game 4 in Utah Sunday.

“We can deal with adversity,” Paul said in a televised interview about what this game showed. “That’s one of our biggest hurdles, things that we’re trying to overcome.”

Playoff injuries have ended so many Clipper playoff runs in recent years, including last season when Paul and Griffin were injured in the first round allowing the Trail Blazers to advance. Griffin suffered his injury with just under four minutes to go in the second quarter, he had stolen the ball from Hayward and pushed it up himself, finishing a layup past Rodney Hood. After Griffin landed, he instantly started limping.

The X-rays on Griffin’s toe injury were negative, but there is no timetable yet for his return.

The injury set up the brilliance of Paul.

“The primary thing is the game becomes about Chris Paul in the pick-and-roll,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said about the adjustments after Griffin’s injury. “He’s arguably the best person doing that in the league, in terms of manufacturing the whole court. So that puts a lot of stress on the defense.”

Paul came out in the second half and attacked the paint more aggressively — something he can do with Rudy Gobert still out injured for Utah — and he was 5-of-6 shooting inside eight feet of the rim in that stretch. His drive started to force defenders to him, and then he would find a rolling DeAndre Jordan for the lob, or he would kick out to an open shooter. Paul was covered by Ingles to start most of the night but worked hard to get Derrick Favors switched on to him, then attacked.

It all worked. Plus the Clippers stepped up their defensive pressure, and that threw the Jazz off balance. Hayward went cold (1-of-4 in the fourth) and Utah started leaning heavily on Joe Johnson to create shots for himself and others (he was 3-of-6 in the fourth), but the balance was gone from the Utah offense.

Even when they got good looks, they just missed them during that fourth-quarter stretch where Utah’s offense fell apart. That ended up being the ball game.

Behind a couple buckets from Johnson late Utah kept it close, but the Clippers hit enough free throws that the Jazz were forced into desperation shots and passes — both of which Hayward missed badly in the final minute.

Until Gobert returns, the Clippers have a formula that works with the CP3/Jordan pick and roll, with them getting into the paint. Los Angeles had a ridiculous offensive rating of 125.4 in this game, against one of the best defenses in the league.

It falls to Utah to slow down the Clippers a little (easier said than done). The Jazz have to get shots, then get some shots — particularly threes — to fall late. The ball is in Quin Snyder’s court to make some adjustments so Utah can even this series on Sunday. And if one of those adjustments is not “Gobert is back” he’s going to need to get creative, and get some role players to step up.

Clippers’ Blake Griffin leaves Game 3 with bruised big toe, will not return

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Clippers’ fans have to be saying “come on, not again.”

Clippers forward Blake Griffin was forced to leave Game 3 against the Jazz due to a bruised big toe and will not return, the team has announced.

The injury appeared to happen with just under four minutes to go in the second quarter. Griffin made a steal and pushed the ball down the court himself, finishing a layup past Rodney Hood. After Griffin landed, he was instantly limping.

The fact X-rays were negative may be good news considering Griffin reacted like it was something worse.

Griffin had 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting when he had to leave the game.

The Clippers have a history of being unlucky with playoff injuries. Last year, they lost in the first round to Portland when both Griffin and Chris Paul suffered series-ending injuries.

The Jazz have had to play without their anchor in the middle in Rudy Gobert all series after he suffered a bone bruise to his knee :17 seconds into Game 1.