The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off of a preseason victory over the defending champion Golden State Warriors. The game was called off in the third quarter due to unsafe court conditions, but the Lakers lead 85-70 with just a few minutes left in the third quarter.
The Lakers will take the momentum of the win into their exhibition against Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers (3-2). The Lakers will then wrap up the preseason on Thursday in another game against the Warriors.
With just two games remaining in the preseason, the Lakers have yet to make any roster cuts, so tonight will be an important game for those who are on the bubble. The Lakers main objective is to get healthy so they have a complete team for opening night.
D’Angelo Russell struck first as he hit a jumper in rhythm from the elbow off of Roy Hibbert’s screen. On the other end of the floor, Damian Lillard answered quickly with a contested three-pointer. Mason Plumlee drove past Hibbert and sunk an impressive running hook-shot over the outstretched arms of Hibbert. Hibbert then displayed his shooting touch with a set shot from the top of the key. Several possessions later, Julius Randle continued his habit of forcing the issue in the paint, but he was able to find Jordan Clarkson for an open three. Moe Harkless went backdoor on Anthony Brown and Lillard connected with him on the alley-oop, extending the Blazers’ lead to 17-11. After tenaciously grabbing a rebound, Randle pushed the ball in transition and fed Russell a bounce pass in traffic, then Russell proceeded to complete the play with a layup. Several possessions later Jordan Clarkson stripped the ball away from Meyers Leonard and finished the break with a layup after side-stepping Lillard. The Lakers stepped up their defensive intensity to end the quarter, but Lillard continued to make tough shots and the Blazers lead 25-21.
The Lakers began the second quarter with Brandon Bass and a few players who are looking to earn a spot on the roster: Marcelo Huertas, Jabari Brown, Jonathan Holmes and Tarik Black. In an effort to make an impression on Coach Byron Scott, Holmes dove after a loose ball and dislocated his shoulder, but not before the Lakers completed the play in transition. Huertas did a great job creating shots for his teammates, but he also displayed a nice running jumper as part of his offensive repertoire. Tarik Black knocked the ball loose from former Laker, Chris Kaman, and then was on the receiving end of a ferocious alley-oop dunk assisted by Huertas. Black found himself open at the top of the key a few possessions later and hit a mid-range set shot. Huertas continued to display his craftiness with the ball, as he dropped off a between-the-legs pass for a trailing Nick Young, who drained a pull-up three in transition, tying the game at 36 apiece. Huertas and Black continued to connect in following possessions, as Huertas found an open Black in the paint for a layup, giving the Lakers a 43-42 advantage with two minutes remaining in the half. Huertas drilled a jumper off of a screen, but allowed a layup on the other end of the floor and the Lakers go into the half tied with the Blazers 47-47.
Starting the second half alongside Clarkson and Young are a few more players who are trying to make the team: Robert Upshaw, Michael Frazier III, and Larry Nance Jr. Consequently the Blazers started the half on a 6-0 run, until Nance buried a three to halt the run. Nick Young turned the ball over on an inbounds pass and Leonard was sent to the free throw line, where he put the Blazers up 59-50. The Lakers answered with a 7-2 run after a Nick Young three-pointer out of the triple threat. The Blazers answered with a three of their own, but Young isolated his defender on the other end and made a step-back jumper. With four minutes left in the quarter, Young was hit hard on a drive to the basket where he missed the layup, but Nance was able to clean up with miss with a put-back dunk. Clarkson made a contested 15-foot jumper from the free-throw line, giving him 15 points and cutting the Lakers deficit to just two points. With just under two minutes remaining in the third, Nick Young isolated his defender on the perimeter and nailed another three under duress. Clarkson continued his efficiency from the field, making a turnaround jumper and the Lakers end the third quarter down 74-72.
Another new lineup began the fourth quarter for the Lakers as Robert Sacre, Ryan Kelly, and Metta World Peace made their first appearances and were joined by Huertas and Anthony Brown. Huertas hit World Peace with another beautiful pass to get the Lakers on the board and a Sacre hook shot gave the Lakers a one point lead. Portland quickly responded with back-to-back scores to push back ahead by three points, but a short Huertas jumper cut the Blazers lead back to one. Huertas would hit Sacre for a jumper and Kelly for a three as the Lakers pulled back ahead by four. Kelly hit three free throws and Russell knocked down a midrange jumper to keep the Lakers ahead by five. Russell hit a nice fallaway as well to put the Lakers ahead by seven with under three minutes remaining. A layup from World Peace and another jumper from Russell gave the Lakers a comfortable nine point lead. The Blazers got two quick buckets to cut the lead to four, but Russell hit a pair of free throws to potentially ice the game. Pat Connaughton was fouled on a three, however and hit all three free throws. Jabari stepped up and knocked down two more free throws to put the Lakers back up five with only 17 seconds left. Kaman hit a jumper and the Lakers threw the ball away leading to Connaughton hitting a three and tying the game. Ryan Kelly made a great play and soared for a huge dunk to put the Lakers up two and Vonleh missed at the buzzer as the Lakers edged Portland 104-102.