The downward spiral continues (although it is approaching its end) for the Los Angeles Lakers as they fall short against the playoff-bound Portland Trail Blazers 124-112.
Despite their bench being almost totally nonexistent, every Trail Blazer starter scored double digits, and two of their starters scored over 30 points: one being Damian Lillard, who had 34 points and 8 assists, and the other being LaMarcus Aldridge, who recorded a double double with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Robin Lopez also notched a double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Lillard was 9-9 from the free throw line and 5-10 from downtown, and he was an active force on the defensive end of the floor as well recording 3 steals. Portland’s offensive rebounding was outstanding tonight allowing them to convert 10-15 second chance attempts, totaling 20 points (while the Lakers only scored 10 points on 5-9). Although the game was close for the entire first half, the Blazers eventually pulled away as they stepped up their defensive and offensive intensity in the third quarter by scoring 28 points and holding the Lakers to 22 points, then pouring on another 33 points in the fourth and taking the lead by as much as 23 points.
Although the Lakers were able to keep the game close in the first half, hanging on after halftime still seems to be a problem for them. They also giftwrapped easy points as they sent the Trail Blazers to the foul line 17 times in the first half (and they converted 16 of those attempts); giving up 44 points in the paint for the game also did not help their cause last night. Despite defensive woes however, the Lakers offense still seems to be a bright spot for this team. Nick Young had a slow start only scoring 3 points in the first quarter, but took quickly caught fire in the second dropping 18 points. Young continued his scoring rampage through the fourth quarter to total 40 points (6 points coming in the third, and 13 points in the fourth). Point guard Steve Nash finally got a chance to return to action last night and contributed a double double (10 points, 10 assists), despite having to leave the game twice to tend to injuries, and shot 6-6 from the foul line. Kent Bazemore once again had a strong offensive contribution scoring 17 points on 6-10 shooting from the field, and Chris Kaman also chipped in with 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Ryan Kelly was actually the leading rebounder with 9 for the Lakers last night, and scored 9 points, almost getting him a double double.
Finding any consistency with this Lakers roster has been difficult this season. They have had 33 different starting lineups as of last night’s bought, and as their season approaches its end it should not be expected for a lineup to solidify anytime soon. Many players such as Jordan Hill and MarShon Brooks are still having their playing time fiddled with in very inconsistent ways by coach Mike D’Antoni. This loss puts the Lakers at 25-49 on the season, but hopefully the team can pull it together and win at least five more games to put them at 30 (unless you’re on team tank, that is).
Jordan Hill not willing to return with the same role next season, according to Bleacher Report. Nick Young still believes in being the ultimate player haters as their season draws to a close. Nick Young had a season high 40 points. Jordan Hill, MarShon Brooks, and Wesley Johnson did not play on coach’s decision last night. According to Lakers Nation, the Lakers plan on keeping coach D’Antoni through next season. Next for the Lakers will be Rudy Gay and the Sacramento Kings Wednesday April 2 at 7:00 PM PST.