AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Clippers were kings of the fourth quarter. Portland star Damian Lillard lost his crown, at least for a night anyway.
Lou Williams made a go-ahead jumper with 58 seconds left, then added a 3-pointer and finished with 26 points to lift Los Angeles over the Trail Blazers 107-101 on Thursday for coach Doc Rivers’ 900th career victory.
“Doc never stops going and grinding,” Kawhi Leonard said. “He never gets bored.”
Lillard and CJ McCollum led Portland with 22 points apiece, but surprisingly both got blanked in the fourth quarter. That’s usually Lillard’s time to shine, but the Clippers’ defense wasn’t having it.
“Usually I can make those shots down the stretch, but they weren’t falling,” Lillard said. “They were coming out to guard me and picking up full court. Pat Beverley did a good job on defense.”
Lillard missed four shots and went 0 for 3 from 3-point range, while McCollum also missed four shots.
“It’s the third game that we’ve won, in my opinion, completely because of our defense,” Rivers said. “Our offense was below average. If you can win a game and not play well offensively, that says a lot about your team.”
Leonard had 27 points, 13 rebounds and six turnovers after missing a nationally televised loss to Milwaukee the previous night as part of load management for his knee.
“Over the last six minutes of the game, we got stops, got rebounds and made our free throws. Lou also made a big 3 for us,” Leonard said. “We played good defense and stuck in there the whole game and we stayed positive. It was a grind-out win for us.”
Leonard and Williams combined to score the Clippers’ final 15 points. Leonard sealed the win with four straight free throws as fans chanted “MVP! MVP!”
“The Lou-him combination was lethal down the stretch,” Rivers said.
With Lillard and McCollum getting shut down, Anfernee Simons scored 16 of his 17 points in the fourth, including Portland’s first 12 of the quarter.
The Clippers rallied from eight points down early in the period, taking their first lead on Leonard’s basket.
The Blazers tied it 98-all on a three-point play by Hassan Whiteside.
Williams’ jumper put the Clippers ahead for good and he followed it up with a 3 — one of just four made by the Clippers in the game.
“I felt if I had an inch, I’d go for the kill,” Williams said.
The Blazers regained the lead in the third, outscoring the Clippers 36-23. Portland tied it 61-all on McCollum’s 3-pointer, spurring an 18-7 run that sent the Blazers into the fourth leading 76-70.