The Blazers were led by a balanced attack, with all five starters scoring in double figures. JJ Hickson (22 points, 11 rebounds, 11-15 FG) was fantastic, and Nicolas Batum (22 points, 8 rebounds, 9-14 FG) and Wesley Matthews (15 points, 8 assists) also chipped in with efficient performances.
First Half: Some people would call this half scrappy. I would argue that "sloppy" is a much better adjective, as neither team seemed to have much of an interest in playing effective defense. The game started with a run for each side, but quickly settled into a close affair, with neither team leading by more than a few points for most of the half. Hickson led the way with an excellent 7-9 shooting performance, but it was poor team defense that left the Blazers with only a two-point advantage after shooting 50% from the field.
Looks like a game between two fringe playoff teams.
Wish I was joking or sarcastic, but sadly not.
Third Quarter: The Blazers made the excellent decision to open the second half by scoring points, quickly going on a 7-0 run. To the surprise of no one, LA's All-Steve backcourt of Blake and Nash were not successful in their attempt to contain Damian Lillard. Despite improved play from the ROY candidate, the Blazers struggled to expand their lead beyond 4-5 points and headed into the final period with the same two-point edge that they held at the start of the third.
Fourth Quarter: A quick three-pointer from Jodie Meeks gave the Lakers a lead, but a running, one-handed floater (?!) from Meyers Leonard (???!!!!) quickly restored the away team's advantage. Leonard then drew a rather humorous offensive foul on Dwight Howard, leading to much joy and happiness among Blazers fans. The Blazer lead was then relinquished as attempts to double-team Dwight Howard lead to improved ball movement from LA.
A controversial call on LaMarcus Aldridge was the All-Star's fifth foul, and the game seemed to be slipping away before Wesley Matthews hit a crucial three-pointer to restore Portland's four-point lead. Despite several easy layups for the Lakers, the small Blazers lineup scored effectively and was able to keep pace. Unfortunately, LA began to dominate the game inside and got the benefit of the doubt on more than a few foul calls.
Haralabos Voulgaris @haralabob
I kind of feel bad for these Portland players, not exactly getting the fairest of whistles.
A resilient Portland squad continued to battle on, but two controversial no-calls on Lillard and Batum attempts left the Blazers with zero room for error. Aldridge had a chance to tie the game with 14 seconds left, but his left-elbow fadeaway fell short. LA made their free throws and appeared to have sealed the victory, but there was still enough time for yet another confusing moment of officiating. A late Batum jumper was ruled a two-pointer, with the decision upheld after review though it appeared Batum's feet were safely behind the line.
It's a tough loss to swallow and there will certainly be discussion about the referees as their performance was subpar.
Box score | Portland Trail Blazers tickets via TiqIQ
Stay tuned for more analysis from Blazer’s Edge later tonight. In the meantime, check out the upcoming Blazers schedule.