After coming from behind to defeat the Indiana Pacers Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers had little to rest for their Monday showdown with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The hero of Sunday’s game, Kobe Bryant, stayed in Los Angeles to rest as the team traveled to Portland. Also missing the trip was Wesley Johnson who suffered a hip injury during Sunday’s game.
Ronnie Price, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Kelly, Ed Davis, and Jordan Hill started the game for the shorthanded Lakers while the Trail Blazers trotted out Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Chris Kaman.
It was the first time the Lakers saw the Trail Blazers this season. Led by Lillard and Aldridge, Portland has raced out to the NBA’s second best record at 26-8.
After missing their first two field goal attempts, the Lakers got on the board with a Ronnie Price layup following a steal. Meanwhile, Aldridge quickly led the Trail Blazers with five points. While working with a 7-6 lead, Portland was hit with some bad fortune as Matthews went down, grabbed his left knee, and was taken back to the locker room. Hill started the game shooting well hitting his jumpers on his way to a quick eight points. Nick Young nearly turned the ball over but instead hit a shot just inside the half-court line to bring the score to 15-13 in favor of the Trail Blazers. Matthews returned to the Portland bench with just over three minutes left in the quarter and returned to the game shortly afterwards, but not before a Price three pointer kept the Lakers behind by two, 18-16. Robert Sacre gave the Lakers a brief one point lead, but the Trail Blazers still ended the quarter on top 24-23.
The Trail Blazers quickly extended their lead to six behind a Meyers Leonard three pointer, but a seven unanswered points by the Lakers put Los Angeles back on top 30-29. In the midst of it, Carlos Boozer delivered a nice outlet pass to find Jeremy Lin in transition who then finished the layup. The lead was short lived as the Trail Blazers engaged in a run of their own which was capped off by a Batum three that gave Portland a 43-36 lead. Davis had difficulties scoring inside having his shot blocked by Kaman twice on the same possession. Instead of giving Kaman another look, Davis kicked it out to Wayne Ellington in the corner who then buried the three to bring the Lakers within two. Hill tied it up the next time down the court, but the Lakers entered the half down 47-45.
Hill continued his efficient scoring by hitting a jumper to open the half for the Lakers and followed it by draining his next shot to raise his point total to 16. After staying within striking distance, the Lakers regained the lead after Ellington made a three pointer to bring the score to 56-54. Baskets by Hill and Kelly extended the Laker lead to six. Lillard picked up a technical foul after shoving Kelly to the floor which allowed Ellington to add on the lead with the free throw. The Laker run continued with Davis finally getting on the board with a dunk and the team going up as much as ten, 69-59, when Hill made yet another jumper to keep his hot night going. Although the Lillard drew fouls and helped the Trail Blazers cut into the lead, the Lakers entered the final frame still on top 73-70.
Lin stretched the lead to six after hitting a free throw and a layup a minute later. The Trail Blazers cut into it quickly when Boozer fouled Leonard while the Trail Blazer made a three point shot. Just as the Trail Blazers looked to make another move, Lin stripped the ball from Kaman and finished the break with a layup to bring the score to 80-74. Following the turnover, the Trail Blazers turned to the Lillard and Aldridge who erased the deficit to lead 86-85 with three and a half to go. The Portland point guard went on to score five straight point as the Trail Blazers looked to run away with the game. Young was fouled while attempted a three pointer and the free throws brought the Lakers within one. The Lakers took the lead on the next trip when Lin got fouled. The Lakers had the chance to tie the game with 12 seconds left, but Lin air-balled a three-pointer. The Lakers resorted to free throws as they ended up losing by a score of 98-94.
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