LOS ANGELES -- While most of the NBA was preparing for the NBA All-Star break, the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers provided a preview of what could end up being the most exciting matchup in the first round of the playoffs.
Even though mere percentage points separate the Clippers, Blazers and Houston Rockets after the Clippers' 122-117 win over the Blazers on Wednesday night, if the playoffs started now the Clippers and Blazers would meet in the first round. That won't likely be the case at the end of the season, but the NBA can only hope these two meet at some point.
Wednesday's game had a dizzying 40 lead changes and 18 ties before the Clippers finally came out with the win.
How it happened: The Clippers took a seven-point lead and fell behind by seven points as well in a see-saw game. The Clippers were finally able to take control at the end by getting the key stops they simply couldn't for much of the game.
What it means: With a 2-7 record against the top five teams in the NBA coming into the game, the Clippers finally notched another top-five win in beating the Blazers and moved within percentage points of the No. 3 seed and are less than two games from the No. 2 seed.
Hits: Blake Griffin had 36 point and 10 rebounds, becoming the first player in L.A. franchise history since Elton Brand to score at least 25 points in eight consecutive games. Chris Paul also had his first double-double since returning from a separated right shoulder, finishing with 20 points and 12 assists. Jamal Crawford also had 25 points.
Misses: DeAndre Jordan made some big free throws and had 14 points, but he also finished with only six rebounds, snapping his streak of 31 consecutive games with at least 10 rebounds. The last time Jordan failed to grab at least 10 rebounds was Dec. 11.
Stat of the game: The Blazers made 13 of 31 3-pointers (41.9 percent) and showed that the Clippers haven't completely shored up their perimeter defense.
Up next: The Clippers are now off for the next five days for the All-Star break. Griffin and Paul will be playing for the West, but the Clippers' next game is Tuesday at Staples Center against the San Antonio Spurs.