The Los Angeles Lakers returned to Staples Center Friday night, as they hosted the Portland Trail Blazers for the final game of the season series.
After falling to the New Orleans Pelicans Wednesday, 113-92, the team hoped to get back on track behind rookie Jordan Clarkson who was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month earlier in the day.
The Trail Blazers (48-26) look for their first season sweep against the Lakers (20-54) in 21 years. Portland has already earned a second consecutive postseason berth and have secured the Northwest Division title, which they haven’t won since the 2008-09 season.
The last time these two teams met, Portland defeated the Lakers, 106-94, Jan. 11, behind 34 points from Damian Lillard, who averages 23.6 points per game, seventh in the NBA.
An alley-oop by Robin Lopez followed by a jumper from Damian Lillard, gave the Trail Blazers a quick 4-0 lead. The Lakers would quickly tie the game with Jordan Clarkson hitting Ryan Kelly for a huge dunk. Lillard hit three straight three-pointers that pushed Portland’s lead to seven, 13-6. Midway through the first, Tarik Black hit a jumper that cut the Lakers deficit to five. Clarkson then found Kelly open, as he drove through the middle for a right one-handed dunk. Lillard continued to dominate the arc, as he banked in another three, as the Lakers trailed by eight, 20-12. The Trail Blazers stretched the lead to 12, after a jump shot by LaMarcus Aldridge, 1:45 left on the clock. A driving layup by C.J. McCollum extended the lead, 26-12, to end the quarter.
A jump shot by Wesley Johnson ended a 14-0 run by the Trail Blazers, as they continued to trail, 29-14. A three-pointer by Jabari Brown, brought the Lakers within 16, but Arron Afflalo answered back with a shot behind the arc, 36-17. The Lakers defense remained weak, as the Trail Blazers took advantage of each possession. Brown sank in two free throws, in his attempt to cut the Lakers deficit. McCollum put in back-to-back layups, taking advantage of the Lakers turnover to push Portland’s lead to 43-23 midway through the second quarter. Aldridgeput in a layup, but was answered back by Clarkson, Lakers trailed 50-27, with less than three minutes left in the half. Lin attempted a jump shot, but missed and was quickly rebounded by Johnson for a dunk, 52-31 Lakers trailed with less than two minutes to go. Clarkson would score eight straight points to end the half, cutting the Lakers deficit to a respectable 13 points, 52-39.
Both teams went back-to-back down the court to get shots up, but the Lakers still trailed, 56-43. Aldridge from inside the arc buried in another jump shot, as the Trail Blazers led by 15. Midway through the third quarter, Clarkson found Black open under the net for a massive dunk on Lopez, but the Lakers still trailed 62-49. Johnson hit a jump shot, but he was answered back by Chris Kaman, 66-51. The Lakers continued to miss shots in the paint and the Trail Blazers managed to put the Lakers to work defensively. Kelly found an opening through the middle to put up a shot, but the Lakers were still down, 70-53. Clarkson hit a jumper then a steal by Black a steal by Black led to an alley-oop from Clarkson to Black. Clarkson hit back-to-back jump shots, as the Lakers got within 11, with less than a minute to go in the third. Clarkson would then hit a tough shot at the buzzer to bring the Lakers within 11 at the end of the third.
The Blazers quickly took control early in the fourth with an 8-0 run capped off by a McCollum layup as the Blazers increased their lead to 19 points. A free throw from Brown finally got the Lakers on the board, but the Blazers continued their fourth quarter onslaught. Threes from Afflalo and McCollum gave Portland a 24 point lead. A tough finish by Robin Lopez gave the Blazers their biggest lead of of the night at 27 points and the lead grew to 30 midway through the fourth. Dwight Buycks checked into the game for his first minutes as a member of the Lakers after signing a 10-day contract earlier in the day. He would hit his first shot, a three-pointer, but the Lakers remained behind by 29. Buycks hit Ed Davis for a dunk and followed that up with a jumper of his own, showing what he can do. Both benches cleared out as the Blazers dominated the fourth quarter to put this game away. The Blazers beat the Lakers 107-77.
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