The Los Angeles Lakers gave the Portland Trail Blazers their best shot. But it was nowhere close to enough, as the Blazers seemingly held out their arms to keep distance, then pulled away for a relatively easy victory.
With the victory, the Blazers officially claimed the Northwest Division title, helped by Oklahoma City's loss to Memphis earlier in the evening. The last time the Blazers held a share of the Northwest Division was in 2009, and they had never won the division outright since the realignment. They last won a division outright when they were the Pacific Division Champions in the lockout-shortened 1999 season.
The Blazers were led by CJ McCollum, who had a nationally-televised coming out party with 27 points on 62.5% shooting. Damian Lillard added 20 points on 4-8 three-point shooting. Arron Afflalo scored 17, and LaMarcus Aldridge added a quiet 14.
The Blazers opened the game on fire, more specifically Damian Lillard. He hit his first three three-pointers and dominating the first quarter. CJ McCollum did his best Lillard impression, running the offense to perfection. The Lakers had no answers, scoring 12 points in the first quarter, then the Blazers opened up a 41-18 lead in the second quarter.
Holding the powerhouse Byron Scott offense down to 12 is a season highlight.
However, the blowout was promptly delayed for two quarters. Jordan Clarkson found his groove for the Lakers, and took over the game. No matter what shot he took, they swished. By halftime, he had 8 field goals. The rest of the Lakers team combined only totaled 8 more. Clarkson helped the Lakers shave 10 points off the Blazers' lead in the last two minutes of the first half, and they stayed within 13 at halftime.
The "13" number would become familiar to both teams, as it was the predominant margin in the third quarter. Each team would make runs, but the other would counter. Portland looked to have control late in the quarter, but yet again, Clarkson took control, dominating Lillard's defense to burn the Blazers repeatedly. The Lakers stayed within 11 after three quarters.
Did I tell you guys how my friend David lost his id?
So he only has his ego and superego now?
And then it was over. The fourth quarter opened, McCollum was back in the game, and it spelled doom for the Lakers. He worked around their defense for layups, three-pointers, and pinpoint passes, and the Blazers' 11 point lead swelled to 25 within the first four minutes on the quarter. From there, new Blazer Tim Frazier saw his first minutes in the red and black, as the benches quickly emptied.
The Trail Blazers have swept the Lakers in a season series (4-0) for the first time since 1993-94 (5-0). #PORatLAL— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) April 4, 2015
In Portland's sweep of the Lakers this season, Damian Lillard averaged 27.0 points (56.7% FG) and 6.3 assists. #PORatLAL— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) April 4, 2015
Portland's 30-point win (107-77) is the largest win by the Trail Blazers on the road against the Lakers in series history. #PORatLAL— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) April 4, 2015
The #Blazers went 4-0 vs. Lakers this season, claiming just the third season-sweep over rivals in franchise history.— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) April 4, 2015
"Dame was like, you should try to get 30" -- CJ— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) April 4, 2015
The Lakers' 77 points are the fewest allowed by the Trail Blazers in the 45-year history of the POR/LAL series (80, 4/6/04). #PORatLAL— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) April 4, 2015
We the Northwest. pic.twitter.com/jT4hlAywsY— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) April 4, 2015
Hanging in every stall in Blazers locker room: black and red shirts that say "Northwest CLAIMED," in honor of NW Division title.— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) April 4, 2015
NW Division Champs! pic.twitter.com/WNOPqpfJ6J— Blazers Equipment (@RipCityEQ) April 4, 2015
Playoff's clinched ✅ Division Title ✅ Let's keep it going! Feels good to be part of a great team, with great fans, in a great city!#RipCity— Meyers Leonard (@MeyersLeonard11) April 4, 2015
Joined a great team @trailblazers and get to experience what a division championship is all about!!! All I can say is that it feels great!!!— Tim Frazier (@psufraz23) April 4, 2015
Wes Matthews is greeted by Joel Freeland on the team plane as he rejoins the team. pic.twitter.com/oPsYMTlWFc— Bruce Ely (@bruceely) April 4, 2015
Coach Stotts on Blazer One. Headed home. pic.twitter.com/nSi548UlZ8— Mike Barrett (@blazermb) April 4, 2015
My bro is back ! pic.twitter.com/O1Wt9h680D— Nicolas Batum (@nicolas88batum) April 4, 2015