D'Angelo Russell shoots against the Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 10, 2017.
(J Alexander Diaz/Lakers.com)

Lakers Can't Overcome Cold Second Half Against Portland

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

In the five days between the Lakers’ loss to Portland on Jan. 5 and their rematch on Tuesday night, it seemed like Los Angeles might have figured out some of its issues holding leads.

But, after beating both Miami and Orlando by double digits, Los Angeles couldn’t keep its halftime advantage, instead falling into an offensive rut in its 108-87 loss to the Trail Blazers.

The Lakers took a 57-55 lead into the half before going ice cold the rest of the way. In fact, head coach Luke Walton was “shocked” at how poorly his team began the third quarter.

The Blazers (17-23) took a one-point lead halfway through the frame before Damian Lillard swatted a shot from D’Angelo Russell. The two point guards exchanged words and a bit of contact, leading to both being assessed a technical foul.

From there, Portland simply chipped away at the Lakers, who scored a season-low 12 points in that quarter by shooting 5-of-23 form the field while missing all seven of their 3-point attempts.

“I think we ran away from everything we did,” D’Angelo Russell said. “After the (incident) we just deferred. We didn’t throw any punches and go forward and compete. We turned down.”

Thus, the Trail Blazers took a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter and the Lakers (15-27) never threatened, as the visitors used a 12-2 run to push their advantage up to 92-73 just four minutes in.

The Lakers scored just 30 points in the second half — the same total reached by Portland in the fourth quarter alone — and couldn’t hit a shot from anywhere, going 12-of-41 from the field, 2-of-12 on 3-pointers and 4-of-10 at the free throw line.

Portland built its lead to as high as 23 in extending its franchise-record winning streak over the Lakers to 10 games. The Blazers have won eight of these by double digits and now sit three games ahead of the Lakers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

“We just went flat,” Nick Young said. “The energy wasn’t there in the second half. It got tough for us. It wasn’t anything they were doing. We just didn’t have the energy.”

Walton was disappointed with how his team resorted to “‘I’m going to try to do it myself’ offense” when they started the second half by missing open looks within the offense.

Russell — who shot just 4-of-14 from the field and missed all seven of his 3-point attempts — tried to keep some perspective on the Lakers’ rough outing.

“We just didn’t make shots — the world is not ending,” he said.

On the other side of the ball, the Blazers were once again led by their flame-throwing backcourt.

C.J. McCollum — who entered the game averaging the league’s second-most points over his last four games (35.0) — led with 25 points, while Lillard finished with 20 despite having only two at halftime.

Walton was displeased with how his players weren’t communicating enough defensively but primarily focused on the offensive end, saying that the team is only successful when having five or more players score in double figures.

Just three Lakers reached that mark in this game, and Luol Deng led with only 14 points.

“We aren’t winning games when one guy scores 40,” Walton said. “We had nights like that, too, and we lose.”

The Lakers had only 10 turnovers but shot 38.6 percent from the field and 14-of-26 on free throws. … Portland shot 50.6 percent from the field. … Russell finished with nine points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. … Al-Farouq Aminu grabbed 15 rebounds for the Blazers, while Julius Randle led L.A. with 10. … A crowd of 18,483 was in attendance at Staples Center.

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