PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Al-Farouq Aminu scored a career-high 30 points and the Portland Trail Blazers pulled away after Chris Paul left with a broken bone in his right hand, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 98-84 on Monday night to even their playoff series at two games apiece.
Paul departed midway through the third quarter. It was not immediately clear how he was hurt, although his wrist appeared to bend back when he guarded Portland’s Gerald Henderson on a layup.
The Clippers were further hurt when Blake Griffin retreated to the bench late in the game after appearing to aggravate the left quad injury he struggled with this season.
CJ McCollum had 19 points for the Blazers, while Mason Plumlee added 14 points and 10 assists.
Griffin had 17 points before leaving with under 6 minutes left. Jeff Green also had 17 off the bench.
Game 5 is Wednesday at Los Angeles.
The Clippers held Damian Lillard to 12 points after he scored 32 in Portland’s 96-88 Game 3 victory, while Paul had 16 before his injury.
He appeared to hit Henderson’s back while trying to reach in midway through the third quarter and soon after went to the bench clutching his right hand. He was attended to by a trainer, then left for the locker room, kicking at a seat cushion on the court when he left.
Paul was averaging 26.3 points over the first three games of the series.
The Blazers are trying to become the first team to overcome a 2-0 deficit since Memphis came back against the Clippers in the first round in 2013.
Since 2008, 53 of the last 55 teams to win the first two games of an NBA playoff series have ultimately prevailed.
The Clippers also blew a 3-1 lead last season against Houston in the Western Conference semifinals.
Aminu opened the scoring for the Blazers with pair of 3-pointers and a pair of free throws, and Portland jumped out to an early 20-12 lead despite Lillard’s trouble seeing a clear shot.
The Clippers were cold except for Paul, who was 6-for-6 from the field in the first quarter for Los Angeles’ first 12 points. J.J. Redick went 0 for 6 before he was subbed out.
Both teams struggled from the field for much of the half. But Allen Crabbe, who had missed his first 10 3-point attempts in the series, finally hit one to put Portland up 34-26 with just under 6 minutes to go before the break.
DeAndre Jordan shot airballs on two free throws late and the Clippers trailed 47-43 at the half. The teams shot a combined 34.5 percent in the half.
The Blazers pulled ahead 77-68 on Maurice Harkless’ follow shot with 7:27 left, the largest lead of the game to that point, and cruised from there.
Clippers: Redick has been bothered by a sore left heel that has limited him in practice. Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he’s not sure how much the injury has impacted Redick, because he hasn’t asked him. “I just don’t like asking because I think at the end of the day, if you are out on the floor, you’re healthy,” Rivers said.
Trail Blazers: The Blazers had 12 turnovers in the first half.
The winner of the series between the Blazers and the Clippers will face the winner of the series between Golden State and the Houston Rockets. The Warriors are up 3-1, but are expected to be without Stephen Curry for at least two weeks because of a sprained right MCL.
So both Portland’s Terry Stotts and Rivers were asked before the game if they were looking ahead at the possibility of facing the Curry-less Warriors.
“It’s pretty easy for me not to do the math,” Rivers said. “We have Damian Lillard and McCollum in front of us right now. … It’s a 2-1 series, I’m looking at this series. I don’t look that far ahead. I think that would be a foolish thing to do.”