Lakers beat Blazers 104-102 behind Ryan Kelly’s game-winning dunk
The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 104-102 in Monday’s preseason game at Staples Center. The Lakers’ Ryan Kelly had the game-winning dunk with two seconds left after the Blazers erased a nine-point deficit in the final 1:28 to tie the game.
The Kelly dunk saved the Lakers from an embarrassing disappointment. They blew a nine-point lead and led by five with just 10 seconds left. After Noah Vonleh airballed a 3-pointer, the loose ball went to Chris Kaman who knocked down a midrange shot to cut the lead to three. Then D’Angelo Russell got caught in the corner by a bad inbounds pass which led to a Blazers steal, thanks to aggressive defense by Phil Pressey. The loose ball ended up with a Pat Connaughton 3-pointer to tie it up.
As you can tell by now, unlike last night, the Blazers featured players didn’t close out the game.
Al-Farouq Aminu missed his second straight preseason game with a strained left hamstring. The starters from Portland’s preseason win on Sunday remained the same in Monday’s road tilt against the Lakers.
After playing 42 minutes each, Blazers guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum saw their minutes go down considerably in Monday’s game, which was anticipated. Lillard scored a game-high 20 points in 24 minutes of action as well as six assists. McCollum had a quiet night, scoring 10 points.
The Blazers led 25-21 after the first quarter but the Blazers second unit wasn’t able to extend or hold on to the lead. Behind the play of international veteran and NBA rookie point guard Marcelo Huertas, the Lakers tied the game at the intermission.
The Lakers back-ups were the reason they were able to stay in the game and eventually pull out the victory. Scoring guard Jordan Clarkson led the Lakers with 17 points.
Allen Crabbe had some nice moments in the comeback attempt, hitting a pair of tough 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, the Lakers saved themselves from a complete debacle, which would have been bad even under their current standards.
Lakers guards Kobe Bryant and Lou Williams did not play.
- Moe Harkless took advantage of another opportunity in the starting line-up. Harkless had 15 points, five rebounds, a block and a steal. He looked good on the defensive end as well. It looks like he’s clearly entrenched as the back-up to Aminu until further notice. But I expect we’ll see plenty of Allen Crabbe alongside him in second units, as long as everyone is healthy.
- Looks can be deceiving. Phil Pressey played 12 minutes compared to just five minutes for Tim Frazier. But Frazier’s minutes came in the first half, looking more like a rotational role than Pressey’s 12 minutes which all came in the fourth quarter. It looks like Frazier is going to be the guy that wins out in that battle with only one more preseason game left and roster cuts on the horizon.
- Noah Vonleh had a tough night from the field but was a monster on the boards again. Vonleh had 10 rebounds and a block in 23 minutes. Vonleh’s ability to finish plays offensively should come with time on the court, but his defense, rebounding and screen-setting will be the key part of his contributions to the Blazers right now. If he starts finishing plays, both around the rim and from the perimeter, watch out.
- The Blazers play their final preseason game Thursday in Los Angeles against the Clippers.