The Los Angeles Lakers returned to action tonight in search of their third victory of the season, as they squared off against the the new-look Portland Trail Blazers. Portland is looking to make it two in a row at Staples Center after they defeated the Clippers 102-91 on Friday. The young backcourt for the Lakers would look to hold their own versus Portland’s dynamic 1-2 punch in All-Star Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
The Lakers would also need to step up their perimeter defense against a team like Portland, who’s entire starting five is capable of hitting outside shots.
Los Angeles is hoping to get a win before going on the road to face the defending champion Golden State Warriors, while the Blazers are looking to build on their first win since snapping a seven-game losing streak.
Lillard got Portland going with back-to-back quick three’s to start the game. Meanwhile Kobe got the Lakers on the board with his patented baseline turnaround jumper to bring the score to 8-2. He continued to carry the Lakers offense as he scored the next six points on 3-5 shooting to bring the Lakers within two. However, Portland looked to pick up the tempo, with Lillard finding Mason Plumlee for the easy dunk to make the score 12-8. Kobe was aggressive early on, driving to the rim and drawing fouls to send him to the charity stripe. He hit all four of his free-throws to tie the game at 12 with seven minutes left in the first. The sides continued to trade buckets before Roy Hibbert made his presence felt with a couple of emphatic blocks on Mo Harkless. The former Laker Ed Davis looked to make an impact in the arena he once called home with a nice finish at the rim to put the Blazers up 23-18. D’Angelo Russell got off to one of his more efficient starts of the season recording his fourth assist of the quarter on a dime to Lou Williams, before splashing a three to cut the lead 27-23. However poor defense would allow McCollum to slash to the rim for an easy layup to end the quarter with the Blazers leading 32-23.
The second unit for the Lakers struck first in the second quarter with a thunderous dunk from Brandon Bass for his first point of the game on the dish from Nick Young. Young then followed with a soft jumper to cut the Blazer lead 32-27. Kobe got it going again with a bank shot followed by a dime to Clarkson for the three to bring the Lakers within one. However, Portland was able to stay ahead by being aggressive on the boards with with Davis and Al-Farouq Aminu battling down low for the putback to go back up by three. Clarkson started heating up, hitting his first four shots of the game, two of them being threes, to keep the Lakers within striking distance. Regardless, Portland was still able to score in bunches, this time going on a 7-0 run to go up 44-39 midway through the second quarter. Following a bucket from Julius Randle, The Blazers continued to maintain the lead after a Tim Frazier bucket put them back up by six. A pair of Randle free-throws were answered by yet another Lillard drive and Plumlee finish with the score now 50-46 with three minutes left. Roy Hibbert got off to a great start on defense with four blocks in the first half. Hibbert’s defense then led to offense with yet another three from Russell to bring the Lakers within two, 53-51. Portland answered back with three straight points from Aminu to end the half with the Blazers up, 56-52.
The Lakers first in the second-half on a pump-fake and bank shot from Russell to break double figures in scoring with 11 points. He then followed his first bucket with a difficult leaning jumper to bring the score to 58-56. Lillard, not to be outdone, answered with back-to-back buckets of his own to put Portland back up by eight. Russell began setting up the Lakers offense and it paid off with an easy Clarkson layup followed by a floater from Hibbert to cut the lead to three, 64-61. McCollum would quickly kill the Laker momentum with back-to-back threes to go back up by six, with seven minutes left in the third. Portland remained hot from behind-the-arc with yet another three from Lilard to give him 21 points and the 73-67 lead. The Lakers then got back on the board with a jumper from Randle to bring them within four. Clarkson kept his hot-hand going with his third three of the night, and the score now 75-73 with three minutes left in the quarter. The trend of the Lakers coming close to take the lead and then losing it would continue as a couple of unanswered field goals put the Blazers back up by eight. Los Angeles failed to convert a field goal the last three minutes of the quarter, while a Lillard and-one would give Portland a ten-point lead, 84-74
The Lakers started quickly in the fourth as Kobe hit a jumper and Williams knocked down a pair of free throws to close within six. Three more free throws from Williams were answered by a dunk from Henderson as Portland maintained a seven point lead. Williams would cut it to six with a pair of free throws, but a hook shot from Davis kept Portland ahead by eight midway through the fourth. Bass would make three of four free throws to bring the Lakers within five points and would follow that with a huge dunk to make it a one possession game, 93-90. The Blazers would respond as Lillard hit Plumlee for a huge dunk of his own on a pick-and-roll to put Portland up five with four minutes remaining. Kobe would miss a three leading to an easy fast break layup for Allen Crabbe as the Blazers pulled ahead by seven. Lillard would effectively put the game away with four straight points as Portland went up by double-digits with two minutes remaining. The Lakers would fall to 2-11 as they lost to Portland 107-93.