The Los Angeles Lakers saw their season-best five-game winning streak and nine-game winning streak at home end on Monday with a heartbreaking 108-103 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Lakers entered the fourth quarter with a seven-point lead over the Trail Blazers, and went up by 11 points with five minutes remaining. But All-Star point guard Damian Lillard soon took over, scoring 19 of his game-high 39 points in the final 12 minutes of play.
Despite Lillard’s offensive explosion, Los Angeles had plenty of opportunities to stymie Portland’s comeback effort. Most notably with seven seconds remaining, when Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum committed a foul before the Lakers inbounded the ball.
Isaiah Thomas, one of the league’s better free throw shooters over the past two seasons, was unable to convert his lone free throw attempt that would’ve trimmed the Trail Blazers’ lead to two.
The Lakers retained possession, but Thomas then was stripped on a game-tying 3-point attempt. While Thomas failed to get a shot off, the missed free throw is what was on the minds of many, including Thomas.
“I don’t miss free throws,” he said. “It’s one of those nights. I think I was 100 percent before that free throw and then I end up missing it short. So, it is what it is. I’ll make up for it.
“I missed free throws before. It just happens. I’m a really good free throw shooter. Just like McCollum, he missed two in a row. It happens, but it sucks to happen in that situation, and I’ll be better.”
Entering Monday’s contest, Thomas had missed just one free throw in 31 attempts since being traded to the Lakers. He finished second in the NBA in free throw percentage last year with the Boston Celtics with a 90.9 percent mark.
Though Thomas couldn’t come through on Monday, he helped the Lakers in a similar situation last month against the Sacramento Kings. The two-time All-Star knocked down four free throws in the span of six seconds to ice a victory for Los Angeles.
Afterward, Thomas admitted that he was surprised the Kings allowed him to get his hands on the ball in an obvious foul scenario.