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Blazers Again Blow Up in 4th Quarter, Beat Lakers 106-94

Despite playing the Blazers close (again), the Lakers could not escape the fourth quarter with a win.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In an eerily similar rematch of last Tuesday's game against Portland, right down to Kobe Bryant sitting out and Damian Lillard exploding in the fourth quarter, the Lakers again fell to the Blazers despite being competitive with them for most of the game as the team was unable to muster up the execution to close out a superior Blazers outfit.

Both teams got off to an ugly shooting start, with neither Portland (40.9) nor Los Angeles (39.1) sniffing 50% from the field. The Lakers were able to stay in the game behind Carlos Boozer's shooting off the bench, with the big man scoring 6 points on a perfect 3-3 from the field in his 5 minutes in the period. Tarik Black entered the game late in the first quarter, and was a Tasmanian devil of activity in his extended run, flying all over the court snatching every rebound in site, blocking shots, and finishing nicely in the paint. Boozer and Black, which sounds like a law firm name, led a productive bench performance in the first half, shooting a combined 11-21 (even with the still slumping Nick Young's 0-5), to outshoot the starters own 7-21. The Lakers kept the game close, only trailing by five at the half, as Portland (5-17 from distance and a mediocre 20-44 overall) was unable to sink very many of their open jumpers even with the Lakers always miserable defense.

In the third quarter, LaMarcus Aldridge and company began to look like they were capturing the momentum of the game and were going to pull away, but the Lakers used a 7-0 run to close the gap and end the quarter only trailing 70-72 including a three pointer by the now perpetually struggling Nick Young and a great dunk on the break by the continually impressing Black. Also aiding the Lakers efforts was various members of its front court hanging out in the paint for offensive rebounds like a team of fourth graders. In the game's final frame, the Lakers messed around and made a couple of runs to stay close to Portland, but then Damian Lillard: Clutch God decided to stop messing around. The Blazers' burgeoning superstar continued his seeming vendetta against the purple and gold, straight up murdering the over-matched Lakers point guards for 17 fourth quarter points, including one sequence to put the game to bed where he slammed home a vicious dunk, hit a pull up jumper, and then a three on consecutive possessions.

This second Lillardsplosion of the week wasted a nice return game for Wesley Johnson, who scored 17 points on 7-14 shooting with 3-5 threes. Jordan Hill (14 points, 6-11 FGs) and Boozer (13 points, 9 rebounds, 21 minutes off of the bench) rounded out a solid night for the Lakers big men. Other than Johnson, the Lakers wing players struggled mightily as Young and Wayne Ellington shot a combined 6-21 from the field. In the end, the Lakers (especially without Bryant) were expected to lose to the Blazers, and thus this was not an entirely surprising result even with how close LA played them. The Lakers have a habit this year of staying close with teams that overlook them only to fail late, so this is nothing new. Byron Scott's bunch will look to bounce back against the Miami Heat on Tuesday, and we will see you there.

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