LeBron James was questionable with a groin injury until just before game time. James re-aggravated it on Christmas Day against the Los Angeles Clippers after sitting out L.A.'s loss to the Denver Nuggets on Dec. 22 with a thoracic muscle strain.
James put in 37 minutes of work and served as the Lakers' second-leading scorer behind Kyle Kuzma. Aside from the three-time NBA champion, the Lakers pulled away because their reserves outscored the Blazers' bench 72-39.
The Lakers also outscored Portland 60-40 in the paint and 21-8 in fast-break points.
Portland lost starting forward Skal Labissiere to a left knee injury three minutes into the contest.
It marked the second time this month that the Lakers beat the Blazers in Portland. This result improved L.A. to 25-7 and dropped Portland to 14-19. The Blazers have lost three straight.
Despite losing four in a row, including to the Clippers on Christmas Day, the Lakers still lead the Western Conference.
F LeBron James: 21 points, 7 rebounds, 16 assists, 2 steals, 1 block
F Anthony Davis: 20 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals
F Kyle Kuzma: 24 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist
G Damian Lillard: 31 points, 2 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
C Hassan Whiteside: 19 points, 16 rebounds, 4 blocks
G CJ McCollum: 18 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists
F Carmelo Anthony: 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block
Lakers Snap Losing Streak Behind Kyle Kuzma, Ailing LeBron James
James was able to play despite being a "true game-time decision" with an ailing groin and was still plenty effective, but Kuzma took off some pressure with a solid performance off the bench.
Kuzma, in his third game back from an ankle injury that cost him five games, was feeling it from the start Saturday night:
The 24-year-old forward entered halftime as the game's leading scorer with 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting from the field, including 3-of-5 from distance and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line. The only other double-digit scorer for the Lakers in the first half was James with 14 points.
Kuzma was held to four points in the second half, but he found other ways to positively influence the offense:
Mike Trudell @LakersReporter
LeBron packed Simons at the rim, and Kuz scored on the other end with a Euro step to put LAL up 109-101, despite LAL losing Anthony Tolliver - in there to shoot 3’s - for his 3rd and 4th triples off Portland’s bench. With 8:33 left, Kuz has 24 points, and LeBron 18P, 13A and 6R.
Though James is not fully healthy, the Lakers got a promising glimpse into what a James-Kuzma pairing can look like when firing on all cylinders. Kuzma has missed nine games total this season because of his ankle injury and a separate ankle injury while training with Team USA in August that delayed his 2019-20 debut until Nov. 1.
The Lakers will return home to host the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night.
The Blazers will host the Phoenix Suns on Monday night.