The Los Angeles Lakers are back in action Saturday night against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers got the best of the Lakers in their last matchup on Sunday, but the Lakers will seek redemption tonight at the Moda Center in Portland.
The Lakers will be without their key reserve, Lou Williams, who is with his family after the death of his grandfather. Coach Byron Scott says he expects Nick Young to get the majority of William’s minutes in his absence. The Lakers need a victory tonight to lift their spirits after an embarrassing loss to the defending champion Golden State Warriors earlier this week.
The Blazers won the tip, but Lillard turned the ball over and Julius Randle finished the break with a dunk. After McCollum tied the game up, Roy Hibbert made a difficult hookshot over the outstretched arms of Mason Plumlee. Kobe Bryant was greeted by a series of boos every time he caught the ball, but he assisted a Randle field goal in the paint. McCollum continued his extremely hot shooting, as he scored the Blazer’s first nine points without a miss. Noah Vonleh picked Clarkson’s pocket clean and finished on the other end, putting the Blazers up 14-6 with 7:49 left in the first – timeout Lakers. The Lakers executed out of the timeout, and Clarkson found Randle for the elbow jumper. Al-Farouq Aminu drew the second foul on Randle, and he would sit the remaining 6:24 of the quarter with the Lakers down 17-8. Kobe finally found the bottom of the net on his fourth attempt, but McCollum quickly matched him on the other end. The Lakers got caught watching the ball on defense, and left Lillard open for three, putting the Blazers up by 13 with 3:30 left in the quarter. After another timeout, the Lakers switched to a 2-3 zone and Lillard made them pay by draining another three. Metta World Peace temporarily stopped the bleeding when he made a contested shot in the paint over Meyers Leonard. On the Lakers final possession of the quarter, Clarkson nailed a pull up jumper, and at the end of one the Lakers trailed 21-34.
Kobe checked back into the game and immediately drew a shooting foul on McCollum then proceeded to make his two free throws. Allen Crabbe came off of a screen and made the Blazer’s fifth three-pointer of the game and the Lakers trailed by 12 with 9:43 remaining in the half. Kobe maneuvered through the paint with Gerald Henderson on his back and made a five-foot pullup jumper to cut the Lakers deficit to 10 points. Maurice Harkless tried to jam on Hibbert in transition, but Hibbert was charged with a flagrant foul. Harkless made one of his two free throws and then McCollum converted a floater in the lane to put the Blazers back up by 13 points. The Lakers continued to ignore shooters on the perimeter, and left Leonard open for another three-pointer. Clarkson scored five straight points and the Lakers trailed by 10 with 3:29 in the half. The next Lakers possession Randle made another elbow jumper, and Hibbert was fouled off the ball and proceeded to make his free throw. Kobe made a difficult floater in the lane and immediately went down to the floor after apparently getting the wind knocked out of him by Ed Davis. Lakers Nation breathed a sigh of relief when Kobe returned to the floor after the timeout. The Blazers ended the half on a 10-2 run and the Lakers trailed 46-60 at halftime.
On the first possession of the half, the Lakers swung the ball around the perimeter and Kobe nailed a three-pointer, but Lillard made a three of his own. Clarkson penetrated into the lane and passed it to Russell who stepped into a three-pointer. On the next possession Russell returned the favor to Clarkson, who stepped into a three of his own, cutting the Lakers deficit to eight points. The Lakers run was short-lived because they left Lillard open in the corner for three-pointer; and on the very next possession Lillard found Plumlee for the alley-oop. Kobe came off of a down screen and made a jumper to give him 19 points in the game. On the next Blazers possession, Randle blocked McCollum at the rim, sparking a fast break and Clarkson finished in traffic. With the Lakers inching closer, Lillard used his strength to drive past Brandon Bass and scored in the lane to put the Blazers back up by nine points with 3:47 left in the third. After a timeout, Larry Nance Jr. made a floater in the lane, drew the foul on Lillard, and converted the three-point play. The Blazers made two free throws on the other end, but Russell came back and made an aggressive move and scored from the elbow. After Russell’s jumper, the Blazers scored eight straight points to give them a 14 point advantage. Nick Young stopped the bleeding and made two three-pointers, including one at the buzzer, to cut the Lakers deficit to 76-84 at the end of the third.
The Lakers started the quarter well with a steal that led to a pair of free throws for Bass to cut the lead to six. Portland would quickly push the lead back to double digits with a 6-0 run capped off by a jumper from McCollum to put the Blazers ahead 90-78. The Lakers continued to fight as jumpers from Kobe and Bass were followed by a steal and layup for Clarkson. A defensive mishap allowed for an easy Blazers dunk, however, and kept the Lakers behind by 11. Russell hit a three to bring the Lakers within single digits, but McCollum continued to torch them on the other end as the lead remained 12 midway through the quarter. Back-to-back baskets by Randle got the Lakers within eight, but Lillard responded with a floater to keep Portland ahead comfortably. Randle got a tough shot to fall, but McCollum hit one more three to basically ice the game and put Portland ahead 11 with only two minutes remaining. Lillard would put the nail in the coffin with the floater and the foul to give Portland a 14 point lead with 1:30 left. One last layup from Russell would provide the final score as the Lakers fell 108-96.