Lakers Sputter Out Against Portland


A dreadful second half team shooting performance, coupled with a late wakeup from Damian Lillard, lead to the Lakers being steamrolled at Staples Center 108-87 by the Blazers.

Without being too dramatic, this was a game this Lil Lakers squad needed to win if they were going to make a run for the eighth seed: at home, against a team two games ahead for the final playoff spot, with a few more tough match-ups later in the week. Never mind the Lakers and Blazers came in with a combined record of 31-49 — there were playoff implications on the line here.

After taking a 57-55 point lead into the break, the Lakers couldn’t hit a shot in the second half. They pay me the big bucks here at for that kind of analysis, but there isn’t a better way to put it. The Lakers clanked. So. Many. Shots. 18 of their 23 attempts in the third period, to be exact, and many of them were quality looks.

Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell missed five shots combined from downtown in the period, all five of which were make-able, and it seemed to linger, as Swaggy forced a few midrange jumpers after his good looks didn’t connect. The starting backcourt was a microcosm of the team’s offensive woes all night, going 6-23 from the field. D-Lo has put up 15 3s against the Blazer in the past week and has made as many as I have, so the frustration was evident on his face as the game slipped away.

Making matters worse for D’Angelo and the Lakers in the second half, Lillard started to play like himself after making one of 10 shots in the first half. The two point guards even got into a brief verbal skirmish midway through the third quarter, but the heat of the moment only seemed to galvanize Dame — he scored 18 of his 20 points (on 6-11 shooting) in the second half.

CJ McCollum had the sequence of the night, though, as he hit a tough shot at the rim as he fell to the floor, jumped back to intercept the inbounds pass from Tarik Black, and fed Ed Davis for another layup. The four point swing pushed the Blazers’ lead from five to nine points as the third quarter came to an end, and seemed to crystalize the shift in energy in the game.

More from Lake Show Life

But back to the offensive woes. For the Lakers to only muster 30 points in the second half was inexplicable enough, but against the team ranked 29th in defensive efficiency and being maligned for its inability to stop a well-run high school squad, it was especially vexing. The crowd and the players were both seemingly in a daze, as if the Blazers clubbed them upside the head with a redwood branch.

One thing I liked from the Blazers on defense, though, was the activity of their bigs. They made a point of selling out on the Lakers weaves at the top of the key, switching every handoff and making the guards move “east to west” (Stu Lantz voice). This forced the Lakers to do one of two things: take shots with less than five seconds left on the clock, or look to open guys like Thomas Robinson or Timofey Mozgov to make a play. Both options were less than optimal.

The loss dropped the Lakers three games behind PDX for the

Warriors sacrificial lamb

final playoff spot, and closer to the bottom of the West than the eighth seed. Mitch will have some interesting decisions to make as the trade deadline approaches on whether to roll with this group or break it down and sell it for parts.

Game Notes

  • Luol Deng Cooked Meter: “Medium Rare.” The Duke vet was one of the few bright spots for the Purple & Gold tonight, hitting five of nine shots in the opening half and moving well on the defensive end.
  • Michael Cooper joined Mike Trudell in the third quarter for a minute, and he wanted to get out there and mix it up during the D’Angelo-Dame non-fight. He also clowned Trudell for being shorter than he expected. Who doesn’t love Coop?

Next: Lakers must trust youth movement

LA will head to Texas to take on the Spurs (coming off a loss to the Bucks) on Thursday night, check back here to see how it turns out.