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After a close first half, Damian Lillard led the Blazers to a strong second half and a victory over the dreaded (but short-handed) Los Angeles Lakers.
The Blazers were led by Lillard (14 points on 6-11 shooting, 7 assists, 5 rebounds), with good games from LaMarcus Aldridge (14 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists), Nicolas Batum (12 points) and Wesley Matthews (14 points, 8 rebounds). Meyers Leonard added 10 points and 5 rebounds. While trying to make the team, Adam Morrison was 4-6 with 9 points in limited minutes.
In the first quarter, the Blazers came out relaxed and ready to play. On offense at least. On defense, there was effort, but it's a work in progress. Early impressions: Aldridge looked fully healed, and Lillard looked solid. The Blazers opened a small early lead behind Aldridge's 10 points, and nicely distributed scoring from there. The Blazers led 25-21 after the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Adam Morrison hit a few early shots to help push the Blazer lead to 8. The Laker reserves slowly but steadily led a comeback, cutting the lead to 3 at the 6:00 mark. The Blazers' shooting went cold, and Meeks gave the Lakers the lead with less than 5 minutes left. Damian Lillard took over late to give the Blazers a short lead, and the score was tied at halftime.
Lillard continued to control the third quarter, leading the Blazers back into the lead. The Blazers held a small lead until the 6 minute mark, then the let loose. They scored nine straight points to take a 64-54 lead with 4:30 to go. The Lakers' offense was slowing to a crawl, but they kept the game in low double digits, with the Blazers holding a 73-62 lead after a 29 point third quarter.
The fourth quarter was short. Once the Blazers' lead jumped past 15, the Lakers removed their starters and the Blazers' bench get some solid minutes. Sasha Pavlovic (for three!), Luke Babbitt (not for three!), Nolan Smith and Victor Claver all got involved on the offense.
Here are some first half highlights: