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Clippers look to blaze past Portland tonight into all-star break

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In a match-up of western conference heavyweights the Los Angeles Clippers (36-18) host the Portland Trail Blazers (36-16) at Staples Center tonight in each team's last game heading into the all-star break.

The Clippers are coming off of Sunday night's 123-78 blowout win over the Philadelphia 76ers. All-star point guard Chris Paul made his return to the lineup after sitting out six weeks with a separated right shoulder sustained in a win at Dallas over the Mavericks on January 3rd. He scored seven points, had eight assists and four steals in just under 23 minutes of playing time.

Los Angeles went 12-6 in Paul's absence and are looking to beat the Blazers at Staples Center for the sixth consecutive time.

The Clippers fell to the Trailblazers in overtime in their first meeting of the year, 116-112. In that game all-star starting forward Blake Griffin had 35 points and 11 boards while Paul - a reserve on this year's Western Conference team - had 34 points to go along with 16 assists.

Portland all-star forward LaMarcus Aldridge had 32 points and 11 rebounds in that Trail Blazers win. Aldridge is having his best season playing his natural power forward position thanks in large part to the off-season acquisition of center Robin Lopez. Clogging the middle Lopez is averaging 11 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots per game.

Click on the video with this story to hear from Clippers head coach Doc Rivers explain why Lopez is the reason Aldridge is having his best season and the Trail Blazers are much improved.

This is the second game of a back-to-back for the Trail Blazers who lost at home last night to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 98-95. It's the fifth loss in their last eight games.

Tonight's tip-off from Staples Center is set for 7:40.

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