After an improbable comeback win over the Memphis Grizzlies, who had been the hottest team in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers looked to build some momentum on Sunday when they visited the Portland Trail Blazers.
Things looked good early for them, as they burst out to an 18-4 lead – only to endure a very embarrassing second quarter in which they got outscored 45-13 to fall behind 71-46 at the half. Turnovers were a big problem for the Lakers in the first half, as they gave the ball away 11 times.
But they fought back furiously in the third quarter, and just like that, Portland saw its lead dissolve before its own eyes. Los Angeles finally regained the lead with 7:54 left in the fourth quarter, and it cruised from there to a 121-112 victory. It did so by holding Portland to a very low shooting percentage and just 41 points in the second half.
The victory allowed the Lakers to leapfrog the Blazers in the standings to move into 12th place in the Western Conference. They’re now just one game behind the Golden State Warriors for the 10th spot.
After two sub par games, James returned to form on Sunday. He shot 14-of-24 to score 37 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds, dishing off four assists and blocking two shots.
He didn’t look as fatigued in the fourth quarter as he looked in the Lakers’ last couple of games, but he still played 36 minutes, which is too much for him. Still, he made enough plays down the stretch to put his team over the top.
Troy Brown Jr.: B+
Brown had 10 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals in 32 minutes. He went 2-of-5 from 3-point range, and he hit a triple with less than a minute left to seal the win.
Thomas Bryant: A+
After several straight anemic games, Bryant was dominant tonight. He had 31 points, which tied a career-high for him, on 12-of-15 shooting from the field. His 3-point shot of him, which has disappeared lately, returned as he hit 4-of-5 from that distance.
The big man also had 14 rebounds and two blocks in 33 minutes. His aggression was evident when he had two big offensive rebounds and dunks late in the fourth quarter to punctuate the Lakers’ comeback.
Patrick Beverley: B+/A-
Beverly’s stat line (four points, two rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block in 29 minutes) doesn’t tell the story of how he put his fingerprints on this game. He was talking trash to Damian Lillard for much of the game, and he backed it up by playing outstanding full-court defense on Lillard, especially in the second half.
As a result, the Blazers’ franchise player had a terrible outing, going 5-of-17. Lillard usually seems to have big games against the Lakers, but tonight was a much different story.
Like Bryant, Schroder hasn’t been playing well lately, but he bounced back big time on Sunday. Coming off his clutch steal and layup to win Friday’s contest, Schroder had an efficient 24 points, making all 10 of his free throws and going 2-of-5 from downtown, along with six rebounds and eight assists while committing just one turnover.
The Lakers, in general, did a great job of protecting the ball in the second half, committing just one turnover during that span after being horrendous in that category before halftime.
Wenyen Gabriel: C-
Gabriel was almost a non-factor against Portland, scoring four points and failing to grab a rebound while committing three turnovers in 12 minutes.
Russell Westbrook D
Westbrook’s string of strong games ended tonight. He shot just 3-of-13 overall and 0-of-4 from beyond the arc, scoring just six points. On the other hand, Westbrook did grab eight rebounds and dish off five assists to help LA’s cause.
Kendrick Nunn: C+/B-
In 16 minutes, Nunn shot 2-of-5 and scored five points, but he contributed in an area he usually doesn’t by getting six rebounds.
Lately, the Lakers have struggled on the boards, but on Sunday, they outrebounded Portland 51-38, thanks in part to Nunn’s effort in that department.
Max Christie, Juan Toscano-Anderson: Incomplete
Christie got 16 minutes of playing time while Toscano-Anderson was in the game for just four minutes. The rookie got two rebounds and had an impressive blocked shot on Josh Hart. Both players went scoreless.