The Portland Trail Blazers ended a six-game losing streak with a 107-105 win at home over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. Anfernee Simons led the way with 29 points as Portland improved to 22-34.
The win also ended a five-game home losing streak for the Blazers. It was a revenge win for Portland, which had lost to Los Angeles less than a week ago on Feb. 2.
The Lakers fell to 26-30 after their fifth consecutive road loss and sixth loss in their last eight games. LeBron James led the team with 30 points.
Los Angeles point guard Russell Westbrook sat out his first game of the year as he was a late scratch due to lower back tightness.
G Anfernee Simons, POR: 29 points (25 in 2nd half)
C Jusuf Nurkic, POR: 19 points, 12 rebounds
F LeBron James, LAL: 30 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists
F Anthony Davis, LAL: 17 points, 5 blocks
Shorthanded Blazers Fight Back with Spirited Second-Half Effort
After shooting 1-of-13 from three-point range in the first two quarters, things looked bleak for Portland. But the Blazers woke up after halftime and scrapped to secure a win over a veteran Lakers team.
Simons went off for 15 points in the third quarter to help erase a seven-point halftime deficit and make it a two-point deficit heading into the fourth. Once the game was back in reach, the Blazers took advantage of mistakes to pull in front.
Portland went ahead in the fourth quarter by relying on their youthful energy, scoring 14 fast break points in the final frame. The Blazers connected on five three-pointers to answer every run by the Lakers.
Quite simply, the young Blazers outworked their opponents. Portland turned 21 Los Angeles turnovers into 28 points. The Blazers had 28 fast break points to the Lakers' four. They also outscored Los Angeles in the paint 58-40.
After tearing down its roster with trades this week, Portland is a rebuilding team that is obviously preparing for the future. Nonetheless, Wednesday's win showed that the Blazers have the right spirit to compete against anyone.
Lakers' Strong Shooting Erased by Sloppy Turnovers, Weak Defense
Los Angeles had a rough shooting night from beyond the arc on Tuesday against the Bucks, connecting on just 10 of their 32 three-point attempts (31.8 percent). But the Lakers didn't allow that to discourage them, and they came out firing on Wednesday.
Led by Talen Horton-Tucker off the bench, Los Angeles sank nine triples in the second quarter and 11-of-20 in the first half. Horton-Tucker scored 11 of his 14 points in the second frame.
But the team's strong shooting was in vain because the Lakers played a sloppy game otherwise and allowed a shorthanded Blazers team to hang around thanks to careless turnovers. Los Angeles had 10 giveaways in the first half alone and followed with 11 in the second half.
The Lakers have struggled on defense throughout the year, but Wednesday's uninspired effort has to be disheartening. Los Angeles got pushed around inside and allowed Portland to score 58 points in the paint.
A loss to a young, rebuilding Portland team was yet another example of the Lakers' shortcomings this season. Even when the team finishes with 17 three-pointers, the Lakers failed to keep up with teams that out-hustle them.
Changes need to be made if the Lakers want to compete for an NBA title this season. At this point, Los Angeles is looking more like a team that will be competing for a spot in the play-in tournament.
The Blazers will enjoy a couple days off before hosting the New York Knicks on Saturday in the final matchup of a five-game homestand. The Lakers will return to action that same day in a road tilt against the Golden State Warriors.