Harrell, George lead Clippers past Blazers, 117-97

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Clippers are still figuring things out even while they’re piling up wins.

Their latest came with the bench outscoring the starters, 66-51.

Montrezl Harrell scored 26 points, Paul George added 25 and Los Angeles pulled away in the second half to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 117-97 yesterday.

“The best thing about this team is we’re not near where we’re going to be,” coach Doc Rivers said.

Kawhi Leonard had an off-night offensively, scoring 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting, but still helped extend the Clippers’ franchise-best start at home to 13-1.

Los Angeles Clippers Montrezl Harrell dunks. PHOTO: AP

“He set the tone with his passing,” Rivers said. “Early he tried to get everybody else going and then he tried to get himself going.”

CJ McCollum scored 20 points, Hassan Whiteside had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Damian Lillard added 16 points on five-of-15 shooting for the Blazers, whose three-game winning streak ended.

Carmelo Anthony had nine points and six rebounds two weeks after signing with the Blazers in his return to the NBA. Lillard and Anthony were held under their scoring averages.

The game was tied 10 times in the first half before the Clippers eked out a 62-59 lead at halftime. The Blazers shot 52 per cent in the first half; the Clippers shot 50 per cent.

“At halftime we didn’t make any adjustments,” Rivers said. “We said something’s going to give. We either start defending or we’re really going to have a tough night.”

The Clippers outscored the Blazers 27-17 in the third. Portland’s shooting dipped to 26 per cent while McCollum had five points and Lillard two in the period.

“Just imposing our will on the defensive end of the floor, causing havoc that led to us scoring a lot of points,” Harrell said.

George and Leonard took over to start the third. They each hit three-pointers and George had a steal and a dunk to go with a free throw from Leonard as part of a 14-3 run that gave the Clippers a 76-62 lead.

The Blazers answered with seven straight points to trail by seven. Harrell dominated the rest of the quarter, scoring nine points in the Clippers’ 21-7 run over the end of the third and start of the fourth that extended their lead to 96-76.

“They basically got what they wanted in the second half and we didn’t have an answer,” McCollum said.

George tied his season high by making six of seven three-pointers, some arcing like rainbows on their way into the net. As a team, the Clippers made 17 three-pointers on 34 attempts, with Patrick Patterson scoring 15 of his 19 points on 3s.