Los Angeles- In a game where the Los Angeles Lakers fell behind the Portland Trail Blazers twice by double digit deficits and closed the gap each time, it just proved to be too much for the team as they lost 114-108.
The story for each half was identical for the Lakers as they began the game with a slow start falling behind Portland 19-2 by missing their first eight shots and did not make their second field goal of the game until the 5:07 mark in the first quarter.
Los Angeles was able to shake off the early porous shooting as they looked like a different team at the tail end of the first quarter and it spanned through midway through the second quarter as they used a 23-10 run to give them their first lead of the game at 43-42.
The Trail Blazers responded and held on to a 53-50 halftime lead behind 18 of LaMarcus Aldridge’s team-high 27 points despite shooting just 37 percent from the field as a team and being outscored 31-11 by the Lakers’ second unit, which is the highest scoring bench in the league.
In the second half, Portland began to pull away from Los Angeles as they stretched their lead to as much as 20 points behind a 41-point third quarter on 71 percent shooting from the field with a combined 20 points from Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews.
Once again the Lakers made another push as they went on a 26-7 run to start the fourth quarter that cut the deficit to one point at 101-100 with just over three minutes left in the game with Xavier Henry playing point guard. But like the first double digit margin they were unable to get over the hump as the Trail Blazers responded with an 8-2 run that included 3-pointers from Lillard and Matthews.
“I just think the energy wasn’t good. I didn’t think we fought through adversity,” head coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I didn’t think we talked enough, I didn’t think there was resistance defensively…They bordered on a day in the park [attitude]. I just didn’t think we had it.”
What was also notable in Sunday’s loss was the shooting woes of Pau Gasol, who shot 3-of-15 from the field with six points, five rebounds, and three assists in 24 minutes played.
“I just missed some wide open shots,”Gasol said. ” I missed them early and late as I was 2-of-5 for the second half. I (just) had good looks and the ball just didn’t want to go in.”
Despite losing the game, there were a few bright spots with the play of Henry, who had a career-high 27 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field, and Robert Sacre, who also had career highs in points (12). rebounds (7) and assists (4).
“I felt like I played pretty good. I was aggressive and when I’m pretty aggressive things open up for me,” Henry said. “I’m just happy we fought back. We were down early and we were down the game, but we had some guys in that second unit that fought back and we came back and play hard.”
Los Angeles will have a four day layoff this upcoming week as their next game is not until Friday on the road against the Sacramento Kings. D’Antoni is looking forward to three consecutive days of practice, but most importantly getting his players healthy.
“I think this (break) will be good for us as we got some guys with some ankle (issues such as Jordan) Farmar,” D’Antoni said. “We got to try to get (Steve)Nash back. (We) got see where Kobe (Bryant) is (in his recovery). We got to a lot to stuff to sort through, but this won’t hurt us.”
Jordan Farmar left Sunday’s game with 4:34 left the first quarter after playing just 56 seconds after he suffered a moderate left hamstring strain and did not return to the game.
“When he ran down the floor he said that he strained his hamstring,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t know how bad or what it will be (but) we’ll find out in the next couple of days. He just took off running and turned around (to me) and said ‘take me out.'”
The loss of Farmar’s could make a huge impact on the Lakers’ bench as he is the leader of the league’s highest scoring second unit. It also puts the team in a point guard dilemma with Steve Blake as the only remaining healthy point guard on the roster.
“It hurts,” D’Antoni said. “He’s been playing well, and obviously that puts Steve (Blake) [in a tough position]. He had to play 23 minutes in the first half. It’s tough, he runs around all the time….we had to go with [Xavier Henry] at the point, or just without a point, and just play.”
With Farmar out it may also put more pressure on Steve Nash to return sooner from his nerve root irritation in his back as he is set to return to practice this upcoming week. Nonetheless, the Lakers now have a point guard dilemma on their hands and it will be interesting to see how they handle it in the next couple of days.
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