Isaiah Thomas drives against the Portland Trail Blazers on March 5, 2018. (Credit: (Ty Nowell/Lakers.com))
The Lakers had won nine straight at home, eight with Lonzo Ball in the lineup, and five overall. Damian Lillard changed all of that.Arguably the hottest player in the league since the All-Star Break, Lillard singlehandedly shredded the Lakers’ defense by scoring 39 points — including 19 in the fourth quarter — to extend Portland’s own win streak to seven with a 108-103 victory over the Lakers.Los Angeles (28-35) appeared ready to cement its victory with 5:26 left in the game, as Isaiah Thomas pushed its lead to 11 with a pair of free throws.But Portland (38-26) showed exactly why it is the third-seeded team in the Western Conference, rolling off 14 unanswered points capped by three straight Lillard 3-pointers.L.A. briefly managed to steady the ship, as Lonzo Ball splashed a 3-pointer with 1:51 remaining to tie the game at 103.
But that was the last point the Lakers would score. They missed their final three shots, including when Thomas was stripped on what could have been the game-tying 3-pointer at the final second.Portland, meanwhile, hit five free throws in the final two minutes to capture the win.Lillard was an offense unto himself. The Lakers tried to blitz him on pick-and-rolls, but he nimbly dodged double teams and knocked down six 3-pointers, plus handfuls of shots at the rim and from mid-range."Those tough shots were shots he makes all the time, especially in the clutch," Julius Randle said. "So you have to give hats off to him. But we knew we have to force him on drives, get the ball out of his hands and make him kick it (out)."For the most part, I don't think we did that. But we can be better. We will."On the other side of the ball, the Lakers’ offense failed to reach the heights that it found while averaging 121.4 points during the team’s win streak.Instead, it fell 18 points short of that mark and shot its lowest field goal percentage (39.5) since Dec. 27.One of the few bright spots was the play of Randle, who continued to bruise his way to the bucket with a team-high 21 points and nine rebounds.Thomas was next in the scoring column, putting up 19 points with seven assists. However, it was a wildly inefficient night for the sixth man, who shot just 5-of-21 from the field.
"As players, we have to do a better job of acknowledging where the fire is and try to stop it," Thomas said. "Offensively, we just couldn't knock anything down on top of not getting stops and letting Lillard get off in the fourth."
The Lakers shot just 11-of-27 on 3-pointers (29.7 percent). … Portland also received 22 points from C.J. McCollum and a 16-point, 16-rebound double-double by Jusuf Nurkic. … A crowd of 18,997 sold out STAPLES Center.