Blazers, Damian Lillard turn out the lights on the Lakers 106-94
The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 106-94. It really didn’t need to be that much of a margin. But Damian Lillard loves killin’ em and he stomped on the Lakers in the last 65 seconds.
It started with a ferocious dunk on a 3-point play over Ed Davis and Jordan Hill after Ronnie Price pressured him high above the 3-point line. It led to the play that broke the Lakers back.
Actually it started when the Lakers made a final push in the final few minutes.
Wesley Johnson hit a 3-pointer to pull the Lakers to within seven points at the 2:12 mark. But Terry Stotts didn’t call time and had the Blazers play through the Lakers late rally. Lillard got fouled but missed the second of two free-throws. Two Wayne Ellington free-throws pulled the Lakers within eight before Lillard shut it down.
(hat-tip to Dane Carbaugh of The Sporting News)
But he kept going. Lillard loves the moment and the bright lights. He wanted to make sure the Lakers were put out of commission and wanted everybody who was watching to know who did it. He hit a fadeaway jumper as if he was paying homage to Kobe in his house. It wasn’t the same style, it was Dame all the way but it was from a spot Kobe has dominated from in his career and he put the Lakers out. And then he twisted the knife a little more with one last 3. He finished with 17 in the fourth quarter after hanging 16 on the Lakers in the final period last Monday in Portland.
It was an assassin’s like performance in the house where Kobe laid many brave teams to rest. Kobe was resting tonight as his coach took heat for pushing the Lillard and Kobe went at each other in what may have been Kobe’s last great game back in April 2013. He has a long way to go but what better way to pay homage to one of his childhood idols than by ripping out the Lakers’ hearts on their home floor in their Sunday whites.
Aldridge looked tired on the second night of a back-to-back and it’s easy to forget that the L-Train has played more career minutes than anybody else on the Blazers. They need Lillard for nights like these. Wesley Matthews and Batum each knocked down a couple of 3’s and Meyers Leonard continues to play well in the absence of Joel Freeland and Robin Lopez.
The Blazers needed Lillard to make sure the Lakers couldn’t be within a punchers chance.
- Matthews stepped up for the Blazers again tonight. Matthews makes step-backs look easy and he did it a few times tonight. His best one came off some amazing ball movement. Overpassing? Maybe. But who cares. That was beautiful. And while it ended on a step-back 3 from Matthews, the ball movement caused Wesley Johnson to close out too hard. The step-back was clinically executed. Matthews is not one for wasted movement.
- The Blazers are the first team in the NBA to get to 30 wins. The Golden State Warriors have 29 wins but have three fewer losses than Portland. Robin Lopez has missed 13 games and counting. But those two teams aren’t playing any time soon with their next meeting coming March 24.
- I noted on twitter that CJ McCollum was came in the game earlier for the second game in a row behind Steve Blake. But in both games, Blake has played more minutes than McCollum. Blake made a few big shots and had nine points. McCollum hasn’t knocked down his perimeter shot in the last few games but still has a very good 3-point percentage. It may just be a rotation quirk for Stotts in order to get Matthews rest earlier in the game or cut down on Blake’s minutes a little bit. Blake, the team’s oldest player, was averaging over 22 minutes per game and has averaged 19 or fewer the last three games.
- Batum hit a 3 in the fourth quarter and finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists. He was pretty solid. Leonard played important minutes for the Blazers again, scoring 10 points and grabbing four rebounds. Batum stole at least one from him, too. But Leonard has shown confidence in his shot and he’s also starting to show a knack for keeping possessions alive with a Tyson Chandler-esque backtap.