Trail Blazers Lose Another Player To Injury And Another Game To The Lakers

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- The Portland Trail Blazers lost both another player to injury and another game in a 128-120 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in front of a sellout crowd of 19,960 Saturday night at the Moda Center.

"I was really pleased with the way we competed," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "We were never really out of it until the end. They're a really good team, especially when they're at full strength. They have a lot of guys who can hurt you, so defensively it was a challenge with different matchups. I like the way we competed."

The Trail Blazers are now 14-19 overall and 8-8 at home this season. They have now lost three-straight and both games versus the Lakers thus far this season.

With the size the Lakers boast on their front line, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts opted to start Skal Labissiere at power forward for the first time this season. But the gambit was short-lived, as Labissiere made it less than three minutes into the game before leaving the game with a left knee injury. He would not return -- Stotts saids after the game that the results of an MRI were "pending" -- leaving a team already missing four players who were on the roster opening night even more shorthanded.

But despite losing yet another body, the Trail Blazers managed to give the Lakers all they could handle for the majority of Saturday night's contest.

It started with an early 13-5 run that gave Portland 15-12 lead after a Hassan Whiteside dunk with 6:50 to play in there first quarter. The Trail Blazers managed to hold the lead for roughly the next six minutes of play before a 10-0 Lakers run allowed the visitors to reclaim the advantage while taking a two-point lead into the second quarter.

After starting the second quarter with three-straight three-pointers -- two from Anthony Tolliver and one from Gary Trent Jr. -- the Blazers took the lead again, this time at 43-41 with 10 minutes to play in the half. But over the next fives minutes, the Lakers would outscore the Blazers 21-6 to take their largest lead of the game at 62-49 after two Anthony Davis free throws.

Starting the third quarter trailing 71-64, Portland quickly trimmed the Los Angeles lead to three by scoring the first seven points of the second half. But the Lakers answered back by scoring the next eight points to push the lead back to double digits.

But the Blazers still refused to quit. Portland answered with a 15-3 run, capped by a CJ McCollum three-pointer 5:15 mark of the third, to reclaim the lead at 86-85.

Though when you're down as many players as the Blazers are against a team with as much talent as the Lakers, you can't let your guard down, even momentarily, without paying for it. That bill came due for the Trail Blazers late in the third, as they were outscored 11-3 in the final 1:54 of the quarter, a run that included an Anthony Davis alley-pop dunk and a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope three-pointer at the buzzer, to go into the fourth down 103-95.

"If you're playing against one of the best teams in the league, you've got to expect it to be a possibility at any time in the game and it just happened to be in that moment in time. I thought we competed hard. I thought we brought it to the game. I thought we were really solid and it was just moments that, like I said, was out of our control."

Portland never managed to recover thereafter, getting no closer than six and going down by as many as 12 in the fourth before coming away with the eight-point loss.

TOP PERFORMERS

Six Trail Blazers scored in double figures led by Damian Lillard, who went 7-of-17 from the field, 4-of-13 from three and 13-of-14 from the line to finish with 31 points to go with nine assists, two rebounds, a steal and a block in 39 minutes. He has now scored at least 30 points in 11 games this season.

Hassan Whiteside finished with a double-double of 19 points and 16 rebounds while also blocking four shots. CJ McCollum shot 50 percent from the field to finish with 18 points and Carmelo Anthony added 13.

As for the bench, Anfernee Simons had his second strong performance in as many games, going 6-of-13 from the field for 14 points to go with six rebounds. Anthony Tolliver made four of his five attempts, all of which came from behind the three-point line, for 12 points.

Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 24 points. LeBron James came within three rebounds of a triple-double with 21 points, 16 assists and seven rebounds. Anthony Davis added 20 points and nine rebounds in 35 minutes.

NOTABLE

• Portland had a 16-13 advantage in second chance points.

• Both teams made 23 free throws. Portland connected on 23-of-27 attempts (85.2%) while the Lakers shot 23-of-28 from the line (82.1%).

• Both teams had six players score in double figures.• Portland shot 15-of-35 (42.9%) from beyond the arc while the Lakers shot 11-of-32 (34.4%) from 3-PT range.

• The Trail Blazers blocked eight shots and had four steals while the Lakers blocked seven shots and had six steals.

• Both teams scored 30-plus points in each of the first three quarters.

• The Lakers’ reserves scored a season-high 72 points. Portland’s bench finished with 39 points.

QUOTABLE

"I don’t care who’s on the floor or what we’re dealing with as far as injuries or what we’re up against – I mean, we’re all professionals. People pay a lot of money to come see us play and we get paid a lot of money to show up and do our jobs and perform." -- Damian Lillard

HIGHLIGHTS

NEXT UP

Before heading out for a five-game road trip to start 2020, the Trail Blazers close out 2019 at home by hosting the Phoenix Suns Monday night at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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