LOS ANGELES — With the Los Angeles Clippers in danger of extending a losing streak as the postseason looms on the horizon, they perfectly executed a last-second play that they hope will get them on a roll.
JJ Redick hit a jump shot as time expired, and the Clippers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 96-94 Thursday at Staples Center.
With Portland’s Mason Plumlee leaping in the air to defend the inbounds pass, Chris Paul threw a bounce pass between the defender’s legs and hit Redick in stride for the game-winner.
Crawford sank a 3-point shot to tie the game with 11 seconds remaining in regulation after Portland’s Damian Lillard sank a 3-pointer with 23.9 seconds to go.
The Blazers had an opportunity to take the lead prior to Redick’s shot, but Maurice Harkless could not convert a driving layup attempt with 1.6 seconds remaining.
Paul and Jamal Crawford scored 25 points apiece for Los Angeles, which broke a three-game losing streak. Redick finished with 11 points, and DeAndre Jordan added 12 points and 13 rebounds.
While Redick’s shot won the game, Crawford kept the Clippers in the contest throughout the second half, scoring 19 of his 25 points after intermission while making three of five from 3-point range.
Lillard scored 18 points and handed out eight assists for Portland, and CJ McCollum added 17 points. Ed Davis contributed 12 points and eight rebounds, while Plumlee chipped in with 11 points and six rebounds.
Paul said that Plumlee’s decision to defend the last play in a leaping fashion helped him execute the pass.
“At first I didn’t see JJ,” Paul said. “But then Plumlee leaped high enough so I could throw (Redick) that lead, and he did the rest.”
Los Angeles did a strong defensive job on Lillard, who shot only 4-for-16 from the field, including 2-for-8 from 3-point range. Despite his off night, the Blazers point guard put his team in position to win by producing six points in the game’s final minute. He converted a three-point play with 46.8 seconds remaining before hitting the 3-pointer that gave Portland its final lead of the night.
“We did a lot of good things tonight,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “They scored nine straight times. You have to come up with a stop at the end, and we didn’t do it. Redick is one of the best shooters in the league.”
According to Lillard, the Blazers were aware that the last play for likely being set for Redick.
“We had guys all over (Redick), he just made a tough shot,” Lillard said. “The last two possession I was able to score, but they answered back. We had a good look at the end, they got the rebound and wound up with the win.”
With the Clippers essentially locked in to the fourth position in the Western Conference, the last-second victory was more important from an emotional standpoint than a playoff-seeding scenario.
“We don’t want to be limping into the playoffs,” Redick said. “Last season we were 14-2 down the stretch, and we have to be much better now. Hopefully, tonight will get us going in the right direction.”
Los Angeles shot 45.1 percent from the field (37-for-82) while Portland shot 40 percent (32-for-80). The Blazers hit just 25 percent from 3-point range (6-for-24), the Clippers 21.1 percent (4-for-19).
In the third quarter, Portland (37-36) took advantage of cold Los Angeles shooting and foul trouble to draw even at 50 with 7:42 remaining. The Clippers regained a six-point lead, but the Blazers tied the game at 65 with a six-point run that was capped when Allen Crabbe hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Clippers (44-27) used a 14-4 run in the last 4:50 of the second quarter to take a 46-39 lead at the break, with Paul scoring nine points in that stretch. Portland’s offense was slowed by its poor 3-point shooting, going 1-for-13 from behind the arc in the opening half.
NOTES: Blazers F Ed Davis has hauled in 526 rebounds in 71 games, placing him first all-time for most rebounds off the bench in a season in franchise history. He broke the record of 503 set by Dale Schlueter in 1970-71). … Clippers coach Doc Rivers was optimistic about the return of Blake Griffin before the end of the regular season. “He’s doing great. He looks pretty good, so that’s why I feel confident,” Rivers said in Oakland on Wednesday prior to the loss to Golden State. “I think he will return, but I don’t think any of us know anything in that regard. I think he will be.” … The Clippers continue a three-game homestand against Denver on Sunday. The Blazers start a four-game homestand against Philadelphia on Saturday.