After a rough road trip, the Los Angeles Lakers returned home on Wednesday night looking to get back in the win column against the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Lakers were without LeBron James for the fourth straight game, although it didn’t matter as Anthony Davis continued his strong play to lead his team to a 99-94 victory.
Avery Bradley got the scoring started for the Lakers with an above-the-break 3-pointer and Davis followed it up with a jumper to give the team the early 5-2 lead. Jusuf Nurkic was able to have his way near the rim, but Russell Westbrook’s playmaking and scoring gave Los Angeles an eight-point lead midway through the quarter.
The Laker defense did well contesting the Trail Blazers and making them take tough shots, while Carmelo Anthony’s scoring put them up by double digits. A combination of L.A.’s defensive effort and Portland missing shots led to the former going into the second with a 28-16 lead.
Talen Horton-Tucker struggled with taking care of the basketball early in the second quarter but the Lakers lucked out as the Blazers could not get many shots to go down. However, the offense sputtered without the starters on the floor and a Portland 9-2 run narrowed L.A.’s lead to only two after the visitors finally got hot from three.
Davis and Anthony were able to re-stabilize the Laker offense but Anfernee Simons began to heat up from the field to keep the Blazers close. Los Angeles was unable to string together stops in the closing moments of the second and went into the half only ahead 54-53.
CJ McCollum came to life out of the locker room, going on a personal 8-0 run to give the Blazers their first lead of the night. Dwight Howard, who drew the start in the second half, was a solid presence in the paint but Portland held onto the momentum.
Davis took it upon himself to right the Laker offense but turnovers helped the Blazers maintain a slim advantage. Anthony was able to knock down a much-needed three, but Los Angeles found themselves trailing 75-72 heading into the fourth.
Horton-Tucker gave the team a boost with a triple and a pair of free throws to hand the lead back to the Lakers before the Blazers subbed several of their starters back in. Davis re-entered and immediately made plays on both ends of the floor to help keep the Blazers at bay.
Both teams had trouble playing clean with the basketball as they committed consecutive turnovers each, but Los Angeles was able to stay ahead as they prevented Portland from getting anything easy. Despite some hot shooting from Normal Powell, Davis was able to close the game out with his work on the boards and at the free throw line to give the Purple and Gold a hard-earned victory.
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