The first half of November was far more pleasant for the Portland Trail Blazers than the second half.
The Trail Blazers finished the first full month of their 2022-23 season with a 128-109 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in front of a crowd of 18,560 Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena.
“This was a tall order. We’re coming in here on a back-to-back, a very, very deflating loss last night, coming off that long trip, this is a tough win to hit,” said Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups. “No Josh Hart, no Nas (Little) so yeah, it was a tall order the whole time, but the guys fought and they played hard. We just ran out of gas.”
The Trail Blazers are now 11-11 overall, 7-6 on the road and 1-1 versus the Lakers this season. Portland has now lost three-straight and eight of their last 10 games.
Portland was down to 10 players in uniform Wednesday night with Hart (left ankle sprain) and Little (right hip strain) joining Damian Lillard, Gary Payton II and Keon Johnson on the inactive list, with nine of those playing in the first quarter. But despite being even more shorthanded than usual and playing the second night of a back-to-back after falling the night before to the Clippers at Moda Center, the Trail Blazers managed to keep things close in the first half. It seemed obvious the early 11-point lead they built in the first quarter wasn’t going to last, but they still managed to go into the half trailing 66-62.
But Portland was unable to keep pace as the game wore on. The Lakers built a 15-point lead a little more than midway through the third quarter and the Blazers were never able to get the deficit to single digits thereafter.
“We just wasn’t able to really sustain,” said Billups. “I thought the offensive rebound crushed us all night. You give up 26 second-chance points but 18 in the first half and it was still a game. But you give up 18 in a half, that’s rough. I felt like we lost our footing there and then it just kind of snowballed from there.”
Jerami Grant led Portland with 27 points on 10-of-23 shooting from the field, five assists, four rebounds, two steals and a block in 35 minutes. Anfernee Simons went for 22 points, eight assists, four rebounds and a steal in 39 minutes.
Justise Winslow went 9-of-11 from the field and 3-of-3 from three to finish with 21 points, five rebounds and four assists. Trendon Watford, who got his first start of the season in place of Josh Hart (left ankle sprain) finished with 10 points, nine re bounds and an assist in 30 minutes.
Shaedon Sharpe came off the bench to score 16 points, including a ridiculous highlight putback that is already in the running for dunk of the year, in 27 minutes.
The Trail Blazers now have two days off before starting another back-to-back series versus the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. Tipoff is scheduled for Saturday at 6 p.m.