Blazers start slow, end flat in loss to Lakers
The Portland Trail Blazers saw their disappointing road trip come to an end Wednesday night, falling to the Los Angeles Lakers by a final score of 99-94. The loss was their third in a row and fifth in the last six games overall. The Blazers got off to a terrible start to make things competitive, but sloppy play plagued both teams throughout the night. In the end, the Lakers cleaned things up enough to get the win.
In a game where headliners LeBron James and Damian Lillard were out through injury, it was Anthony Davis (30 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks) and Norman Powell (30 points, five rebounds) who led their teams respective. Davis played a particularly key role in the Lakers’ fourth quarter in which they beat Portland 27-19.
For a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the stock, check out our instant recap. Here are the main scenarios of the game.
Overcoming a difficult start
The Blazers couldn’t hit the water with a boat in the first quarter, despite looking great. They had just 16 points after the first frame, going 0-8 from three, while also missing a number of lay-ups to the rim. Things clicked in the second quarter, as the shots started rolling in. They were 8-13 from range, with center Jusuf Nurkic even entering the action with a pair of triples. Anfernee Simons also came alive with 13 points, after a tough shooting start.
In addition to the improved offense in the second quarter, Portland’s aggressive defense forced seven interceptions in the first half alone, preventing the Lakers from running away with the game despite shooting more than 50% from the field. . LA led by a single point at halftime, despite their double-digit lead.
While turnovers plagued the Lakers all night, it was the Blazers who couldn’t handle the rock in the fourth quarter, despite only committing two turnovers in the entire first half. time. Combined with a resumption of the cold snap on the court, they didn’t have enough firepower to keep up with Davis and the Lakers on the stretch, with only Powell able to find any kind of rhythm. Davis struggled at the rim, but excelled in the midrange against a sagging Blazer defense. He also had a pair of critical offensive rebounds in the final minutes to extend key possessions, and was able to help ice the game down the foul line.
Portland had one last chance to get back into the game after Malik Monk missed a pair of free throws with 16 seconds left and the Lakers up four. CJ McCollum fouled the other end with eight seconds left but only hit one of the two from the line in an overall tough night of shooting. The Lakers ran seven seconds off the clock in the ensuing inbounds before Portland could foul, and Monk redeemed himself with a pair of marks to close the door.
Nurkic’s uneventful second half also contributed to the downfall of Portland, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds at the half but only finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds on the night, not taking just three shot attempts in the second half. His three turnovers all came in the fourth quarter, as the Lakers sent him an extra man on his post-up attempts, after dominating one-on-one early on.
While Davis lit things up later in the game, it was former Blazer Carmelo Anthony who served as the Lakers’ offensive catalyst for much of the night. Melo got off to a terrific start to the first quarter, scoring 10 points in the frame on a 4-4 shot. He finished with a very effective 24 points on 8-12 shots, including 5-6 shots. The performance was needed, as Russell Westbrook shot just 3-12 from the floor, and no other Laker besides Davis scored more than 11 points.
The score of the box
The Blazers return home to host the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night at 7:00 p.m. PT, looking to avenge a tough loss at OKC earlier in the week.