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Griffin buzzer-beater as Clippers maintain perfect start

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Blake Griffin hit a three-pointer on the buzzer as the Los Angeles Clippers maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a 104-103 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday.

The Clippers’ first road win of the 2017 campaign came after Griffin made a quick dribble and shot from just outside the arc to silence the crowd at Portland’s Moda Center.

It capped a superb night for Griffin, one of five Clippers players to break double-digits in a fine all-round offensive display.

Griffin finished with 25 points while Center DeAndre Jordan made 18 rebounds alongside seven points.

“Honestly, I was just trying to get two (points),” Griffin said of his game-winning the final play. 

“I was looking to see if we could get something easy or a quick layup. I was just trying to get a clean shot. But as time ticked away, I just didn’t think I could get to the rim in time. I just kind of took what was there.”

Blazers guard Damian Lillard led the home team’s scoring with 25 points, while guard CJ McCollum added 23, and forward Al-Farouq Aminu 19.

The Clippers moved to 4-0 with the win as the Blazers fell to 3-2.

Elsewhere Thursday, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford propelled the Boston Celtics to their third straight victory with a 96-89 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Horford scored 27 points while Irving chipped in with 24 as Boston improved to 3-2 in the Eastern Conference to climb to sixth place.

Together Horford and Irving went 21-for-32 from the floor but their efforts masked another poor display overall by the Celtics’ offense.

Milwaukee talisman Giannis Antetokounmpo meanwhile was held to fewer than 30 points for the first time this season, but still weighed in with 28 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon scored 15 points each as Milwaukee 45 percent at the Milwaukee Arena.

Horford spent much of his evening shadowing Antetokounmpo on the defensive end.

“He wills his way to the paint, and the big challenge for me was try to keep him in front and to stay between him and the basket and make him shoot over me,” Horford said. 

“And I did the best that I could with that, just to make sure that I contested those shots near the basket. We had some mistakes there, but we felt like we did a good job on him.”

– Gasol stars as Grizzlies edge Mavs –

In Memphis, center Marc Gasol was the star as the Memphis Grizzlies held off a rally by the Dallas Mavericks to win 96-91 at FedExForum.

Gasol scored 25 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to lay the foundation for a nail-biting win in Memphis. Point guard Mike Conley added 22 points and four assists as the Grizzlies improved to 4-1.

Forward Harrison Barnes top-scored for Dallas with 22 points and 11 rebounds as the Mavericks threatened to claim back-to-back wins over the Grizzlies following their win in Dallas on Wednesday.

The Grizzlies looked to be cruising to a straightforward win on Thursday after building a 19-point lead at half-time.

But the Mavericks gradually clawed their way back into the contest and sneaked into the lead in the fourth quarter at 86-84 following J.J. Barea’s three free throws.

Conley however scored a crucial three-pointer to reclaim the lead and then produced a driving lay-up to give the Grizzlies a three-point cushion that ultimately proved decisive.

In Chicago, the Bulls edged the Atlanta Hawks 91-86 after double digit contributions from Robin Lopez and David Nwaba.

Lopez scored 16 points while Nwaba came off the bench to 15 points with 11 rebounds in a hard-fought first win of the season for the Bulls.

Six players reached double figures for the Bulls, including rookie Lauri Markkanen (14) and Justin Holiday (13).

Markkanen, who had a disappointing night of shooting with 5-of-13 attempts, produced three-pointer with 48.5 seconds left to give Chicago a 90-86 lead.

Marco Belinelli led Atlanta’s scoring with 23 points, while Kent Bazemore finished with 16 points and Mike Muscala 14. – Agence France-Presse

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