The Portland Trail Blazers had been sinking in the Western Conference playoff picture, but they brought a five-game win streak into Monday's game against the last-place Los Angeles Lakers. L.A. led for much of the game and just barely staved off the Portland comeback for a 107-106 triumph.
All hail Pau Gasol! He's the bedrock of this wacky run-and-gun rotation, and he led all scorers with 22 points alongside nine boards, five assists, two blocks and two steals. Jodie Meeks played angry to get 21 points, and he stamped Nicolas Batum on a poster.
Wesley Johnson performed very well at the 4 and came up with 14 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Johnson also came off a screen and received Kent Bazemore's inbounds pass for the alley-oop lay-in to put L.A. back on top with just 6.9 seconds left.
Two Blazers tallied huge double-doubles. Robin Lopez had 19 points, 16 boards and three blocks. Batum finished on 17 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and two steals. Lopez also tore down Robert Sacre on a scintillating slam dunk. LaMarcus Aldridge dropped 21 points, and Damian Lillard scored 20.
Lillard held for the last shot with his team down by a point, and he dribbled into tough defense from Meeks before hoisting a desperate triple that fell short. That is not good shot selection in a one-point game. Go to the rim!
L.A. sprinted past Portland with a 32-9 advantage in fast-break points. The Blazers led the league in points per game but lost 20 turnovers and missed eight of their 19 foul shots in the disappointing setback.
The Lakers romped and stomped their way to a 63-56 halftime lead behind blistering ball movement (18 assists on 26 field goals) and fearsome paint play (32-18). Holding on down the stretch was even more impressive, and
The Blazers failed to get the stops they needed, but they remain the No. 3 seed. They lead by just a half-game over the L.A. Clippers and Houston Rockets, however. The Atlanta Hawks come to Portland on Wednesday night.
The Lakers won't get much rest as they complete the back-to-back at home against the New Orleans Pelicans. The Sacramento Kings beat those Pelicans on Monday, so the Lakers are still tied for last place after the stirring win.