LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers turned in a dominating performance during a 93-77 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in their regular-season home finale Tuesday night at Staples Center. The Clippers finish with a home record of 32-9 -- best in franchise history -- and will play at Sacramento on Wednesday with home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs and possibly the No. 3 seeding in the Western Conference on the line.
Here are three keys to Tuesday's victory:
The Clippers, who never trailed, blew things open by controlling all areas of the game in the second quarter. They outscored Portland, 26-13, in the quarter and won the battle of the boards, 21-5. The Clippers held a slim 28-24 lead after the first quarter and it was down to 30-29 with 10:36 left before halftime, but the Trail Blazers did not score again until Damian Lillard made a 3-pointer with 4:26 left in the quarter. With just over two minutes left in the half, Portland had scored only eight points in the second quarter. The Clippers opened a lead as large as 19 points in the quarter before settling for a 54-37 halftime lead.
The Butler did it in the third
Caron Butler had a third quarter for the ages by scoring 18 of the Clippers' 28 points coming out of halftime. Butler, who played only nine minutes Saturday at Memphis because of a strained knee, had a fairly quiet four points in the first half but came alive after the halftime break. He made seven of nine shots in the quarter, including four of five 3-point shots. His 18 points in the quarter were more than he has scored in all but one game this season. He had a season high of 24 against New Orleans on Nov. 26. Butler, who finished with 22 points, had not scored more than 14 in a game since. Blake Griffin, who got the third quarter rolling with a high-flying dunk off a between-the-legs pass from Chauncey Billups, had six points in the quarter and DeAndre Jordan had two baskets late in the quarter for four points. They were the only Clippers other than Butler to score in the third as the Clippers forged an 82-55 lead before coach Vinny Del Negro pulled the starters with 1:06 left in the third.
Ryan Hollins, a 7-foot center, and 6-10 forward Lamar Odom, gave the Clippers solid minutes off the bench and ignited a second-quarter spurt that keyed the victory. Hollins and Odom combined for 12 points and 16 rebounds for the game. Hollins finished with nine points and four rebounds and Odom had three points and a team-high 12 rebounds. They did most of their damage in the second quarter when Odom had eight rebounds and Hollins had seven points. Odom has surpassed 12 rebounds only three other times this season and was a major factor in the Clippers outrebounding the Trail Blazers, 51-33, for the game.