And the struggles continue for the Los Angeles Lakers who have now dropped three consecutive games after losing to the Portland Trail Blazers at the STAPLES Center Sunday evening.
Damian Lillard scorched the Lakers with 30 points, 13 assists, and six rebounds to lead the way, knocking 12 of his 25 attempts, including three triples.
Despite the Blazers getting off to a quick start, Kobe Bryant showed flashes of his younger self by scoring Los Angeles’ first 10 out of 12 points on 3 of 5 shooting. But after a solid start to the game, Bryant cooled off considerably, going 3 of 17 for eight points the rest of the way.
Bryant’s struggles from beyond the arc continued as well, as he went 0 for 5 from that mark. With that, he is now shooting under 20 percent from three-point range for the season.
As they typically do, the Lakers hung around for most of this game until the final minutes of the fourth quarter when the Blazers put their foot on the gas pedal and raced their way to a 14-point victory.
C.J. McCollum was held quiet through the first half, but the 24-year-old guard helped Lillard during the second half, totaling 19 points, five assists, four rebounds, two steals, and two blocks on 8 of 13 shooting and 3 of 5 from behind the three-point line.
The most interesting stat of the night was that the Lakers had just two fast break points compared to Portland’s 18. The Lakers were seemingly unable to get out in transition for easy buckets, while the Blazers had their bigs running the floor for quick hitting dunks.
Also, Portland shot 49.4 percent from the floor compared to L.A.’s porous 36.4 percent. Interestingly enough, the Lakers were still able to hang close thanks to their rebounding. They out-rebounded Rip City, 51-43, and corralled 15 offensive boards while the Blazers only had seven.
The Lakers were also a plus-10 from the free-throw line which helped them remain within striking distance.
Tonight Byron Scott tweaked the team’s rotation once more. Instead of using 10 guys, he cut his rotation down to nine, eliminating Larry Nance Jr. After two sluggish outings, Nance did not see the floor against Portland, receiving a DNP-CD.
Rookie D’Angelo Russell, who momentarily left the floor due to a minor ankle sprain, earned the most minutes tonight with 36. In his time on the floor, the 19-year-old recorded 13 points, nine rebounds, and tied his season-high of six assists.
“[Russell] looked more comfortable,” Coach Scott said after the contest.
Jordan Clarkson scored a team-high 19 points and added four rebounds on 8 of 14 shooting to pace the Lakers, while Julius Randle notched a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds but shot an abysmal 5 of 15 from the field.
On a positive note, Randle, who has been committing quite a few turnovers per game, did not have any in this one.
Mason Plumlee was a major contributor for Portland, managing a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. He also added four assists, one block, and a steal in his spare time. With Meyers Leonard out, the Blazers have leaned on Plumlee a lot more of late, and the young big man is answering the call. Along with his double-double, he was a plus-20 on the floor, which was the second highest plus-minus for the Blazers tonight behind Lillard.
Plumlee’s counterpart, Roy Hibbert, put up seven points, eight rebounds, and four blocks, doing his best to help the Lakers defend the painted area. However, despite Hibbert’s top-notch shot blocking, the Blazers managed to outscore the Lakers in the paint, 54-38.
It has been a rough stretch for the Lakers who have lost seven out of the last eight games and now own the worst record in the West. It doesn’t get any easier, as they face the undefeated Golden State Warriors next on Tuesday, November 24, at the Oracle Arena.
The Blazers are also back in action on Tuesday when they take on the Chicago Bulls at the Moda Center.