The Lakers stayed atop their group in the In-Season Tournament on Friday and picked up a second road win of the year, downing the Blazers 107-95.
LeBron James was in fine form on the night, burying shot after shot to the tune of 35 points on 12-18 shooting overall and 5-8 3-point shooting. D’Angelo Russell did his scoring early, finishing with 14 points, six assists and three rebounds while going 5-10 from the field and 4-7 from range.
Anthony Davis struggled to stay out of foul trouble but made an impact all over the court, telling 16 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks, three steals and two assists. He did also have five fouls and six turnovers in a whirlwind of a performance. Christian Wood notched a double-double off the bench with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Fueled by their love of and passion for the In-Season Tournament, the visitors jumped out to a quick double-digit lead in the Moda Center. D’Lo continued firing on all cylinders and knocked down a series of 3-pointers to set the Lakers off on the right foot.
Up 28-15, the Lakers had a chance to really put the game to bed in the first quarter. However, five straight empty possessions came up empty, Portland responded on enough of them and Darvin Ham was forced to take a timeout at 28-21.
The Lakers steadied the ship enough to end the quarter up seven at 30-23. But a defensive three seconds call and a 3-pointer on the opening possession for Portland cut that margin right down to four points.
Christian Wood came alive in the second quarter to push the lead back up to double digits by repeatedly scoring at the rim. LeBron buried another 3-pointer as part of a 13-2 run that had the lead up to 44-31 once again.
The Lakers did finally shift to another gear in the second period, turning defensive stops into buckets, none prettier than Taurean Prince’s drop-off pass to AD for an and-one layup to put the purple and gold up 60-44.
TP showing off his flashy pass badge pic.twitter.com/wYRvTE3X5z— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) November 18, 2023
As they're prone to do, the Lakers let up just a bit heading into the locker room and the Blazer went into the half down just 10 points at 60-50. And that run continued right into the second half where the Blazers scored 10 of the first 13 points, trimming the margin all the way down to three points.
Eventually, the lackadaisical nature of the Lakers in the third period caught up with them and an offensive rebound — shocker! — turned into a wide-open Skyler Mays 3-pointer to make it a 68-67 game.
LeBron really found his range in the third quarter, knocking down a pair of threes to give the Lakers breathing room once again. They kept that breathing room until the end of the period, leading the Blazers 82-75 heading into the fourth.
The Lakers were the ones who rushed out of the gate in the final frame with a 7-0 run, capped off by a LeBron 3-pointer and Prince layup. With a little bit of help from Rui Hachimura and Cam Reddish, the Lakers reached their biggest lead of the night.
With a chance to see the game out for a comfortable win, the Lakers chose an alternate route and let the Blazers get close one more time. This time, though, Portland never got closer than 10 points as a pair of mid-range Davis jumpers staved off any run.
Cam Reddish came up with one last big stop and the benches emptied as the Lakers sealed another win.
I’m old enough to remember the years of frustration in the Rose Garden in Portland, so for that alone, I will not take a win over the Blazers on the road for granted. That being said, it certainly could have been prettier on the night.
Eighteen Lakers turnovers hurt. Portland notched 22 second-chance points. It was a lot of the same song and dance and, at this point in the year, that’s just going to be a characteristic of this Lakers team.
But they’ve also now won four of their last five games, are over .500 on the season and now are a win on Tuesday at home vs. Utah away from being the top seed in the In-Season Tournament.
Things are, in fact, looking up.
Before that Jazz game, the Lakers will meet the Rockets at home on Sunday. Tip-off is slated for 6:30 p.m. PT.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.