LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers saw their two-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday night against Portland Trail Blazers 108-87.
Despite holding a small edge at the half, the wheels fell off in the final two quarters with the Trail Blazers cruising their 10th straight win over the Lakers. Here are a few takeaways from Los Angeles’ 27th loss of the season:
Second Half Offensive Woes
The Lakers through the early portion of the season have had their fair share of struggles in the second half of games.
This was once again the case on Tuesday night against Portland with Los Angeles only managing to score 30 points on a season-low 29.3 percent shooting from the field with only 12 made field goals. It was a quite a change from the first half where they shot 47.6 percent from the field, including 58.3 percent from beyond the arc (7-of-12).
“I’m still trying to figure out what happened in the second half,” head coach Luke Walton said. “I’m shocked that’s how we came out. Guys were playing well, we were scoring, we missed some open shots that I thought were eventually going to drop but that [second half] was unexpected.”
The bulk of the Lakers’ struggles came in the third quarter hitting just 21.7 percent of their shots with five made field goals while going 0-for-7 from 3-point range. The Lakers’ 12 points in the third quarter were their lowest-scoring quarter his season, which also marked the fewest points that Portland has given up in the period this year.
“We just went flat,” Nick Young said. “The energy wasn’t there in the second half. it got tough for us. It wasn’t anything they were doing, we just didn’t have the energy.”
Their struggles in the period encapsulated the team’s stagnant offense due to a larger focus on individual play rather ball movement.
“There was too much one-on-one,” said Julius Randle , who had six points on 2-of-9 shooting. “We didn’t get any stops and just missed a lot of open shots.”
Lillard Takes Over
Through his first few seasons in the league, Damian Lillard has been a thorn in the Lakers’ side holding a career average 26.3 points per game in 15 career meeting before Tuesday.
After a slow start in the first half missing nine of his first 1o shots for just two points, Lillard turned it on in the final two quarters tallying 20 points.
The turning point in the third quarter after a verbal exchange with D’Angelo Russell early in the period as he notched 11 of his 20 points for the night.
“Since the last game, he’s been doing little slick elbows, and I play the game clean,” said Lillard, who finished with 20 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. “I’m from Oakland, and I ain’t with that extra stuff. Nobody can just do what they want to me.
“After he blocked my shot, I was walking to my spot, I felt like he went out of his way to get that elbow in there. I told him ‘Hey man, that ain’t going to fly.’ I wasn’t interested in anything else that was said after that…He poked the bear and you see what happened the rest of the game.”
It marked the sixth straight 20-point performance for Lillard against the Lakers, including 13 out of the 16 career meetings against them.
Russell well off to another strong outing with an all-around first half passing the ball dishing out a first-half high six assists while recording four points and four rebounds. He also had a couple of impressive dishes to a few of teammates in transition.
However, things drastically changed in the second half as he missed six of his eight shot attempts, including going 0-for-4 from beyond the arc while failing to record a single assist. Russell contributed to much of the team’s offensive struggles in the third making just one of six attempts for just three points.
“They made shots,” said Russell, who had nine points on 4-of-14 shooting, including 0-of-7 from beyond the arc. “A little incident happened and then they turned up the pressure. They started making shots, started getting stops and we didn’t.”
Despite this minor step back, Russell has been quite productive over the last three games averaging 15.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.0 assists. He will have an opportunity to turn that around on Thursday on the road against the San Antonio Spurs.