Short-Handed Lakers Run Out Of Gas In Loss To Trail Blazers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In what was the second night of a back-to-back for teams that were further hampered by the loss of starters to injury, the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers played the ragged affair one would expect.

The Lakers held a seven-point lead at the end of the first quarter, it was trimmed to five at halftime, and Shabazz Napier led an 8-0 flurry to help the Trail Blazers tie it heading to the fourth quarter.

Portland rode that momentum throughout the final period, answering every Lakers run. The Trail Blazers never led by more than five points in their 95-92 victory.

Lonzo Ball’s 3-pointer tied the game with less than two minutes remaining, and Julius Randle’s free throw pushed the Lakers ahead. But Maurice Harkless’ layup and three-point play proved the difference for Portland.

Napier overcame an 0-for-5 start to finish second on the team with 21 points on 8-of-18 shooting.

Lakers head coach Luke Walton used 12 of his 13 available players, with Josh Hart providing a spark in the stead of Brandon Ingram who was held out due to quad injuries. Hart finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds, all the while playing stellar defense.

The double-double was Hart’s second in the past five games. Jordan Clarkson broke out of his recent skid to score 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting.

Ball had 10 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists, playing through a left shoulder contusion sustained just prior to halftime. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope rebounded from his poor night against the Golden State Warriors to chip in with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Though, Caldwell-Pope missed two 3-pointers as the time ticked down in the fourth quarter.

In addition to Clarkson and Caldwell-Pope finding the mark, rookie Kyle Kuzma had his string of consecutive games with at least 20 points snapped at four. Kuzma uncharacteristically didn’t shoot well from the floor, going 6-of-19, but he delivered multiple baskets in the fourth quarter.

Julius Randle’s minutes continued to come in sporadic and curious fashion, but he again was effective. Randle was second among Lakers bench players with 16 points, to go along with nine rebounds.

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