It was a game of runs for the most part as the Portland Trail Blazers, led by their backcourt, took down the Los Angeles Lakers, 108-96.
Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for 57 points, scoring 29 and 28 points, respectively, to lead the way for Portland. No other Blazer scored in double figures, as Allen Crabbe and Gerald Henderson were the next highest scorers with nine points apiece.
McCollum ignited the Blazers early, scoring 12 points in the opening period to give his team a game-high 17-point lead. But the Lakers crawled back and remained within range throughout the final three quarters.
However, every time the Lakers closed the gap, the Blazers responded with a run of their own by burying momentum changing three-pointers. In fact, three-point shooting was huge for the Blazers as they put in 12 triples on 40 percent shooting, five by Lillard and four by McCollum.
For the Lakers, all eyes were on Kobe Bryant, who was coming off a four-point performance on 1 of 14 shooting. The 20-year veteran had a much better night at the Moda Center, notching a team-high 21 points on 7 of 20 shooting, a 35 percent clip.
The Black Mamba has yet to shoot over 50 percent in a single game this season, and that streak continued tonight. It was also only Bryant’s second time this season which he scored over 20 points, the first one coming against the Minnesota Timberwolves on opening night.
“I’m fine man. It’s tough. 20 years. It’s tough. The legs aren’t what they used to be,” Bryant said about his shooting woes.
With another game coming up tomorrow, Bryant’s playing status is up in the air since he usually sits out on second nights of back to backs.
The three guys who are considered the future of this Lakers team shined tonight. Jordan Clarkson poured in 19 points on 8 of 15 shooting coupled with four assists and three rebounds. It was one of Clarkson’s best defensive games, as he tacked on four steals as well, delivering a solid all-around performance.
Julius Randle aided the team with 16 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three steals on 8 of 13 shooting, while rookie D’Angelo Russell added 16 points of his own to go along with five assists and four rebounds on 6 of 11 from the field.
While Clarkson and Randle are working on consistency, Russell continues to show improvement each game.
Even with brilliant and efficient performances from Los Angeles’ young guys, the team was unable to stop the Blazers defensively, allowing them to shoot 48.7 percent from the floor. They were also immensely out-rebounded, 46-33.
One way the Lakers remained within striking distance was by forcing turnovers. The Blazers had 16 miscues which led to 18 points for L.A., who recorded a season-high 12 steals. The Lakers, on the other hand, were rather clean with ball, committing just nine turnovers. Surprisingly, no one on the team committed more than two turnovers.
Without reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams, who was out due to personal reasons and won’t play tomorrow either, the Lakers bench was outscored, 36-18. Nick Young was the leading scorer off the pine with six.
The Lakers have now dropped to 2-13 on the season and are currently on a five-game losing streak and a seven-game road losing streak. They have also yet to beat a Western conference opponent, falling to 0-9 against West teams with tonight’s loss.
The Blazers push their record to 7-10 and have won the last three out of four games. They will travel to L.A. for their next match which is against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, November 30.
The Lakers return home tomorrow night to face the surging Indiana Pacers, winners of four straight and seven out of the last eight.