LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Clippers coach Doc Rivers rested Kawhi Leonard and sat Paul George for the final five minutes following Los Angeles' plan to restrict playing time.
They still pulled out a very big win over the Portland Trail Blazers when All-Star Damian Lillard missed a couple free throws late.
“We still feel we should we win regardless of who’s in the game,” George said. “We still have a high expectation. I think we showed it, what we’re capable of, not having all our guys on the floor at one time.”
Rodney McGruder hit a 3-pointer with 26.5 seconds left, and the Clippers beat the Trail Blazers 122-117 on Saturday.
Portland had a chance to ensure a play-in for the Western Conference's final playoff berth and eliminate Sacramento with a win. The Trail Blazers led much of the game, but the NBA's top-scoring team inside the bubble was outscored 12-2 in the final 96 seconds.
“We had our chances,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “Give the Clippers credit. They had a bunch of young guys running around. ... We didn’t make the plays. I mean point blank last two minutes we didn’t make the plays at either end to win a game.”
George finished with 21 points. Landry Shamet scored 19, Reggie Jackson added 17, Marcus Morris Sr. 15, JaMychal Green 13 and Lou Williams 12.
CJ McCollum led Portland with 29 points, hitting 6 of 13 3s. Gary Trent Jr. also made six 3s and finished with 22 points. Damian Lillard had 22, Carmelo Anthony added 21 and Jusuf Nurkic had 10 points and 13 rebounds.