The Los Angeles Lakers suffered a 107-105 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers ahead of the NBA trade deadline.
With Russell Westbrook out of the lineup, LeBron James assumed point guard duties but the Lakers as a whole lacked any urgency and fell behind early after giving up six easy points to Jusuf Nurkic. James looked shaken up after scoring through contact but was fortunately able to remain in the game.
There was not much scoring outside of James as he had the Lakers’ first eight points, though Stanley Johnson was able to get a tough 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock to go. Los Angeles had their troubles at the free-throw line and they finished the first tied with the Blazers at 18-18.
Wayne Ellington made an appearance and quickly made good on his minutes, knocking down a pair of triples and finding Austin Reaves in the corner for a three of his own. The pace picked up with both teams getting out in transition, but James converted on an and-one to put the Lakers up 35-31.
Talen Horton-Tucker was a massive offensive boost as he hit several times from beyond the arc to give Los Angeles a nine-point lead. Nurkic picked up where he left off in the first quarter with his scoring near the rim, but James got a lucky bounce off a three which gave L.A. a 54-47 lead at halftime.
Anthony Davis was more involved at the top of the third quarter as he scored two quick field goals, but Anfernee Simons heated up from the field and gave the Blazers a three-point lead. Malik Monk, who had been quiet in the first half, went on a personal 7-0 run to hand the advantage back to Los Angeles.
Davis picked up his play on both ends of the floor, blocking shots and scoring from the midrange and in the paint to keep the Lakers ahead. Beautiful ball movement led to a Horton-Tucker corner three, allowing Los Angeles to take a 78-76 lead into the fourth.
The defensive effort from the Lakers was poor at the top of the final period as the Blazers got nearly anything they wanted which put the former down 87-81. Stanley Johnson and James had their way attacking the paint, retaking a one-point lead in the process.
Portland did not go away as Los Angeles struggled to take care of the basketball and Simons capitalized on those mistakes to go up by five. The Lakers could not find any way to rally in the closing minutes and took home another ugly loss.
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