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New FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs Trail Blazers- Game 56

Franchise Sports Media

Los Angeles Lakers (26-30) |Portland Trail Blazers (22-34)


The Lakers botched a 4th quarter lead late in an unacceptable fashion, resulting in a 107-105 win for Portland.


Lakers vs Trail Blazers
Photo Credit: Steve Dipaola/AP

Last night was a testament to what the Lakers are with Russell Westbrook sidelined, as he didn’t appear in the lineup in Portland. Before the NBA trade deadline, however, the story remained the same for Laker Nation.  The two teams rematched after just a week, with the Lakers narrowly taking the previous win.  The results needed to be the same tonight for LA, but the hole keeps getting deeper.

Lebron James got his chance at more control of the floor at Westbrook’s position, as he traded buckets with Nurkic to start the scoring in the first. With an early tie, Nurkic would score six of the first 8 for Portland, but Lebron was in full effect with all eight of the Lakers’ first points.  The quarter wound down defensively, but a beautiful dime by James to Ariza allowed him to knock down a three.  Stanley Johnson would follow with a contested shot from deep, but it would be the only threes of the quarter for either side. Poor shooting by Anfernee Simons and former Laker McLemore had Portland 0-9 from deep early.

It appeared impossible for the Lakers to hit their free throws in the first, resulting in only 18 points posted heading into the second.  The Lakers defense dominantly guarded the perimeter, allowing only 18 and leading to one of the lowest scoring quarters of the season for either side.   James appeared comfortable in his old role, to no one’s surprise, going 4-5 to start.

The Lakers got four buckets from deep to start the second, with every shot coming from their bench.  Wayne Ellington had two back-to-back, along with one from Talen Horton-Tucker, but Austin Reaves gave the Lakers a 6-point lead with his.  The energy was picking up on both sides as the second transpired, with James completing an and-1 in response to a Nurkic bucket.   Horton-Tucker decided to show his inner Steph Curry at the end of the half, it seemed, hitting two more from deep and stopping Nurkic from trimming the lead.  The half ended with one more from James, on an unlikely bounce, as the Lakers were up seven at the break.

It seems rare for the Lakers to have an excellent first half nowadays, but 11 from behind the arc had them rolling at the break.  Without Damian Lillard or McCollum for Portland, they looked to their new best shooter in Simons to wake up.  He had a poor first half, missing many good looks from the field, but the Trail Blazers kept faith given the small deficit at halftime.  The Lakers turned the ball over a ridiculous 11 times in the first half alone, so that had to change if they wanted any chance at maintaining the lead.


Eleven shots from deep had the Lakers in a rhythm early, as they were up 54-47 at halftime.


Lakers vs Trail Blazers
Photo Credit: Steve Dipaola/AP

Anthony Davis kept it going for the Lakers to start the second half, scoring quickly inside twice.  The momentum would stop there, with Simons beginning to bring the energy expected of him.  He would help put Portland back on top with two threes while leading an 11-2 run.  Malik Monk decided to finally show up in response, going on a solo 7-0 run to hand the lead right back.  Simons remained relentless, but Davis took control of the floor with four near consecutive buckets that had LA up only two heading into the fourth.

Blevins decided to go off early for Portland in the fourth, opening the gate by leading an 11-3 run on two threes.  The Lakers found themselves down seven all of a sudden in the middle of the fourth, but James knew he had to step up.  He followed by leading a 16-8 run that put his team back up 1 with four minutes to play.  James may have been attacking the paint like he always aims to do, but Stanley Johson was just as much of a presence in the run with the same strategy.

Turnovers continued to be an issue for the Lakers in the final minutes, as Simons led an 8-3 run capitalizing on 3 Laker mistakes.  This put Portland back up by 5 with under a minute to play until James would make it a one-score game.  As Portland had possession, there was a three-second difference between the game and shot clock, and Winslow missed a three, but the Lakers failed to get the rebound thanks to Nurkic.  The final seconds ran out in Portland’s favor.

Where to even begin on what went wrong for the Lakers last night, other than they essentially handed the win away. Twenty-one turnovers, a compelling number to watch, allowed a subpar team to step up and steal the win away.  James may have had 30 points to extend his historic scoring streak, but there was no other offense to be found.  He went 13-22 from the field, and those 22 attempts were almost half of the rest of the team.  Simons had 29, and Nurkic had a double-double – 19 points and 12 rebounds.  These two performances were the difference at the end of play, but the Lakers had more than enough firepower to close if they wanted to.

The NBA trade deadline is happening at this very moment, and should the Lakers fail to add any new pieces, and it may lead to more frustration like last night.  Analyzing the 21 turnovers, 28 points were posted by Portland in response.  There seems to be a new problem arising every night for these respectable veterans, as they fall four games under .500.  They simply cannot lose any more if they want to avoid the play-in, but late-season pushes have happened before.


The Lakers head to the infamous Chase Center Saturday to face the Warriors. The game can be seen at 5:30 p.m. on ABC (regular TV).

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 Duncan Dye – Franchise Sports Media

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