• The Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell dunks for two of his team-high 26 points during the first half of Tuesday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ Carmelo Anthony, left, is defended by Los Angeles Clippers’ Patrick Patterson during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 03: Lou Williams #23 of the Los Angeles Clippers goes up for a shot as CJ McCollum #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers defends during the first half at Staples Center on December 03, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 03: CJ McCollum #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers guards Terance Mann #14 of the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center on December 03, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ CJ McCollum (3) shoots over Los Angeles Clippers’ Ivica Zubac during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard, right, looks to pass under the basket as Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard (2) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 03: Carmelo Anthony #00 of the Portland Trail Blazers is fouled by Montrezl Harrell #5 of the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center on December 03, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 03: Paul George #13 of the Los Angeles Clippers shoots the ball as Nassir Little #9 of the Portland Trail Blazers defends during the first half at Staples Center on December 03, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ Carmelo Anthony, left, shoots over Los Angeles Clippers’ Jerome Robinson (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 03: Carmelo Anthony #00 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on during the first half against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on December 03, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard, left, defends on Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard (2) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Los Angeles Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell, left, dunks past Portland Trail Blazers’ Skal Labissiere, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ Hassan Whiteside (21) shoots over Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard (2) and Montrezl Harrell, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ CJ McCollum, right, dribbles past Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Los Angeles Clippers’ Lou Williams, left, drives to the basket against the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ Carmelo Anthony, left, shoots over Los Angeles Clippers’ Maurice Harkless during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ CJ McCollum (3) scores past Los Angeles Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell, center left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ Anfernee Simons (1) looks to pass as Los Angeles Clippers’ Patrick Patterson (54) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard (0) dunks against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

LOS ANGELES — For the first time since Nov. 9, the Clippers spy an opening in their schedule Thursday for a full-fledged, honest-to-goodness practice – to work on perfecting, theoretically, what’s already pretty good.

Led by Montrezl Harrell’s 26 points and Paul George’s 25, the Clippers defeated the good will-banking Portland Trail Blazers and their recently added veteran Carmelo Anthony 117-97 on Tuesday to improve to 13-1 at Staples Center and 16-6 overall.

There’s been plenty of attention paid to Portland’s No. 00 – including on Tuesday, by the Clippers, who held the resurgent superstar and reigning Western Conference Player of the Week to nine points, all of which came in the first half, on 2-for-9 shooting in 28 minutes.

Harrell helped mellow Anthony’s impact, and the Clippers’ 6-foot-7 reserve center continued to outplay taller opponents – on Tuesday, 7-footer Hassan Whiteside – with his strength and skill around the basket. Harrell finished with a team-high 26 points on 11-for-13 shooting and nine rebounds.

George added 25 points, burying a season-high-tying six 3-pointers on seven attempts.

The Clippers more than made up for shooting 14 for 25 from the free-throw line, by backing up and going 3-points bombs away.

They’d entered the game shooting 35.4 percent from deep on 32.6 attempts per game but ranked fifth in scoring at 115.2 points per game. On Thursday, they were 17 for 24 from deep (50 percent), with Patrick Patterson going 5 for 7.

After taking a slim 62-59 lead into halftime, the Clippers scored the first seven points of the second half, including five courtesy of a George 3-pointer and a breakaway dunk that put the Clippers ahead 69-59 and, statistically, all but assured another victory: The Clippers improved to 12-0 this season when they build a lead of 10 points or more.

Patrick Beverley was his typically active self, with 11 points, four rebounds and three assists – including flying in for a rebound and putback that extended the advantage to 84-73 late in the third quarter, when the Clippers held Portland to just 17 points.

Not long after, the lead had ballooned to 22, and with 3:57 left in the game, Rivers cleared his bench to a smattering of appreciation from the sold-out crowd of 19,068 – who had moments before started another happy wave.

Portland’s CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard – the backcourt duo that Rivers likened to having two Lou Williamses to deal with – finished with 20 and 16 apiece. And Whiteside had 18 for the Trail Blazers, who fell to 8-13.

More to come on this story.

LA Daily News