The Los Angeles Lakers had things going pretty well against the Portland Trail Blazers, until the second half started. It was then that things started to turn around and a major turning point was a scuffle between the two point guards, D’Angelo Russell and Damian Lillard.
After the ball went out of bounds, Lillard and Russell bumped each other which led to the two getting in each other’s face. At that time it was only a one-point game, but Portland immediately picked up the intensity afterwards, led by Lillard who quickly made two straight baskets after the incident.
The Blazers would ultimately win 108-87 and after the game, Lillard admitted that the scuffle motivated him, and also gave a reason why it happened via Blazers Beat reporter Casey Holdahl:
Lillard admits his interaction with Russell in the third motivated him in the second half. Noted he's been throwing "slick little elbows."
— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) January 11, 2017
Lillard grew up in Oakland which is known for producing some tough point guards such as Gary Payton and Jason Kidd, and he let it be known that he didn’t like what he perceived was ‘extra stuff’ from Russell.
Neither player shot the ball well on the night as Lillard was 7-21 while Russell was 4-14, but up until that point, Russell had arguably outplayed his All-Star opponent, controlling the game with his vision and passing. Afterwards, however, Lillard stepped things up a level and Russell simply couldn’t match him.
This is the second incident the Lakers have been involved in over the last couple of games. The first one involving Jordan Clarkson and Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic was far more serious and resulted in a $15,000 fine for Clarkson. This one shouldn’t result in anything of that nature, but the Lakers felt the effects on the court and it resulted in a rough loss.