The Lakers are always in for a struggle on their seemingly annual second night of a back to back in Portland, and tonight was no exception. While the Lakers were game to compete in the first half, Portland was able to blow the doors off the MODA center in the third quarter to cruise to victory.
LA ended the first quarter trailing by 8, with Portland outshooting the purple and gold 50% to 39.1%, mostly behind Damian Lillard's 2-3 and Wesley Matthews' 3-4 starts. Ryan Kelly looked good early, shooting 2-3 from the field against the badly slumping Nicolas Batum.
In the second quarter, Nick Young scored 7 points on 3-4 shooting, but it was not enough to cut into Portland's 8 point lead, with the halftime deficit mirroring the first quarter one. Ed Davis had a strong first half, scoring 6 points on 3-5 shooting to go with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks, in addition to some solid overall defense on LaMarcus Aldridge (who was 2-11 from the field, although not entirely due to Davis). Wesley Matthews cooled down, missing all 4 of his shots in the period as Portland's shooting percentage dropped down to 42.5%.
The Trail Blazers opened the third quarter on a 25-12 run (outscoring LA 34-19 overall in the period) to take 23 point lead, with seemingly their only miscue being Nicolas Batum's lob pass to a ghost. Adding injury to insult, Nick Young strained his right peroneal tendon because of course another Lakers' player needed to get hurt in the last game right before the All-Star break.
The Lakers never threatened in the fourth quarter as Portland won going away. Carlos Boozer left early for his vacation, and the guy wearing his jersey in Portland went 1-11 from the field. Jordan Clarkson (14 points on 5-13 shooting with 4 assists and 4 rebounds) looked strong attacking the basket early, but settled for too many jumpers in the second half. Wayne Ellington (16 points on 14 shots with 8 rebounds) had another good game, and Davis (8 points on 7 shots, 11 rebounds, 5 offensive rebounds, and 3 blocks) was far and away the best Lakers' big man in his 24 minutes of floor time. Matthews led the way for Portland with 20 points on 7-14 shooting, while Meyers Leonard solidified the PDX bench with his 11 points and 3 three-pointers.
Tonight's game can be added to the long list of games in which the Lakers starting unit looked hopelessly outmatched, with Byron Scott's five in, five out line changes resembling hockey substitutions on the way to the team's 40th loss of the season. The Lakers now hobble into the All-Star break, and it remains to be seen if the team that returns looks anything like the one that played tonight.