The Blazers improved to 14-3 overall, moving into first place in the Western Conference by virtue of winning a head-to-head matchup against the San Antonio Spurs (14-3). Portland sits two games behind the Indiana Pacers (16-1) for the best record in the NBA.
Surprising? Most definitely. Portland improved to 8-2 away from the Moda Center, becoming the first team in the NBA to win eight games on the road, and doing so with a balanced offensive attack and continuing to see clutch shots fall at the right time.
Player of the Game
LaMarcus Aldridge: 27 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 11-19 FGs
Aldridge just missed his fifth 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound game of the season but continues to play at an All-Star level.
With the Lakers threatening to take the lead, Aldridge nailed his patented fadeaway jumper and added two key free throws late to help hold off LA's late rally attempt.
His averages of 22.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game are on pace for career-highs as he continues to make a case as the top power forward in the league tdoay.
Key Moment of the Game
The Lakers closed to within 101-100 with 3:14 left after backup center Robert Sacre hit a short jumper. The Blazers answered immediately when Damian Lillard swished a cold-blooded three-pointer.
More than a minute later, Wesley Matthews nailed a three-pointer of his own with 1:20 left for a 109-102 lead and the Lakers didn't have enough to complete their comeback.
Lillard (A): Not an entirely efficient night offensively as the second-year guard scored 26 points on 19 shots. But Lillard added five rebounds, nine assists and had a huge three-pointer late in the fourth. The Lakers challenged Lillard's defense in the second half, but the Blazers' star guard sealed the victory with a block on Jodie Meeks' three-point attempt with 14.9 seconds left.
Matthews (B): Matthews battled through a hip injury and still came through with 17 points, including 14 in the second half.
Nicolas Batum (B+): Batum fell one point, one rebound and one assist shy of his second triple-double of the season. It was a typical do-everything night for Batum, who's fit right in with his role as a stat-sheet filler wherever Portland needs.
Aldridge (A): The two-time All-Star was sensational at helping build the Blazers' leads in the first and third quarters.
Robin Lopez (B+): Lopez has quietly had a great first season in Portland, on pace to average a career-high 8.1 rebounds per game—exactly what the Blazers needed when they acquired him. He recorded his sixth double-double this season with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Bench (C+): Joel Freeland provided solid minutes, but Mo Williams, Dorell Wright and Thomas Robinson struggled with their shot as they combined to go 5-of-17 from the field. The Blazers' bench was outscored by the Lakers' reserves 60-23 and struggled to keep up.
Good win in LA tonight, but don't be satisfied! Big one tomorrow— Nicolas Batum (@nicolas88batum) December 2, 2013
Wesley Matthews on #Blazers: "We’re not a cool team. Some teams are cool teams. We don’t have cool players. We have dogs."— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) December 2, 2013
Portland's 14-3 overall record and 8-2 road mark both represent the team's best start to a season since 1999-2000 (14-3, 8-2).— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) December 2, 2013
This guy shut up the crowd ON HIS OWN. YOU CAN'T STOP HIM!! pic.twitter.com/Ka6aBPSVMh— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) December 2, 2013
The one concern so far is the Blazers' inability to hold onto big leads. Portland led 19-2 midway through the first quarter and 94-74 to end the third.
The Blazers have luckily not been burned yet by allowing teams to hang around.
But Portland is playing with a swagger and confidence that it expects to win every time out. The Blazers have eight road victories already in the first month after going an ugly 11-30 away from home last season.
They're finding different ways to win, which is the most encouraging. No bigger tests await the Blazers with the league-leading Pacers on Monday and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.