Blazers Go Cold, Lakers Rally
For all of the clutch wins and outstanding fourth-quarter play turned in by the Trail Blazers lately, this one goes down as a big missed opportunity. The Lakers appeared to be ready, several times in the final five minutes, to be knocked out for good. But, the Trail Blazers missed their final seven shots of regulation and left the door wide open. Again some teams you can probably get away with that. Against the champs? No chance.
Portland led 87-79 with 4:23 to go. That's not exactly turn-out-the-lights time, but it's been the kind of late lead the Blazers have been able to deal with lately. But, nothing would fall for them offensively in the final minutes. The Lakers forced the game into overtime, grabbed all the momentum, and won it 106-101.
The Lakers are a very good defensive team, so some credit goes to the job they did in the fourth quarter, particularly on LaMarcus Aldridge. But, this just appeared to be a case of the Blazers missing good shots. They were getting open in those final minutes, but just didn't hit.
Aldridge, who had 29 points through three quarters, ended the game with 29 points. He took just three shots in the fourth quarter, but had a chance to be the hero on the final play of regulation. It was a play that was designed to go to Rudy or to Aldridge. Aldridge drove down the right side, scooped the ball off the backboard, and it was just short. The air came out of the building, and that was that.
The loss ruined the return of Brandon Roy. He played just 15:34, after being told he could only play 15 minutes. He was rusty, obviously, but was effective in the time he played. He hit a big three-pointer in the second half, as Portland was building a double-digit lead.
Wesley Matthews had 22 for the Trail Blazers, and Nicolas Batum also added 22, hitting four three pointers.
To listen to Nate McMillan's post-game comments, click here
Even though the Trail Blazers made it possible with their sustained draught late in this game, the Lakers made the big plays, and hit the big shots, and deserved the win. That doesn't make it any less painful for the Blazers, who saw the six-game winning streak end.
There are still three games left on this home stand, which continues on Friday night against the new-look Denver Nuggets. It'll continue Sunday against Atlanta, and Tuesday against the Houston Rockets.