In his final Moda Center / Rose Garden appearance after 20 years, Kobe Bryant was helpless as he watched his Lakers meekly fall to the rising Portland Trail Blazers. Portland jumped ahead early, and every time the Lakers made a run, Portland simply swatted them away like a gnat, keeping a comfortable lead to the final buzzer.
The Blazers were led by a dominant Damian Lillard, who finished with 36 points (on 14-19 shooting) in 29 minutes. He was supported by his backcourt cohort CJ McCollum (28 points) and Mason Plumlee (13 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists). Noah Vonleh scored in double-figures for the first time as a Blazer, adding 11 points on 5-6 shooting with 6 rebounds.
Kobe Bryant had a quiet night, shooting 5-9 to score 10 points in 25 minutes to a very mixed reaction from the Portland crowd. After not playing in the fourth, he received a strong post-game ovation during a quick curtain call.
The Lakers kept things close to open the game, with the teams tied after the first five minutes. Then it was all Blazers, as Lillard, Aminu and McCollum combined for Portland's first 31 points. Meanwhile, the Lakers couldn't find the bottom of the net. By the time the Lakers could check the scoreboard, Portland zoomed ahead by 15 points. Los Angeles could only muster a few free throws, and remained down 15 headed to the second quarter.
Allen Crabbe and Gerald Henderson helped push the Blazer lead to 19 early in the second quarter before the Lakers found their groove. They spread the scoring around, cutting the Blazer lead down to 11 points and forcing a Terry Stotts timeout. But the closest Los Angeles could reach was seven points, and each time the Blazers had an answer. McCollum closed the first half by draining a three-pointer to keep the lead at 10.
Halftime: Portland 62, Los Angeles 52
Hello, Damian Lillard and Mason Plumlee. The two dominated the Lakers to the tune of 15 points in the first three minutes of the third quarter. By the time the Lakers could call timeout, Portland had doubled their halftime lead. They comfortably maintained the advantage, but eventually things got a bit sloppy, and the Lakers strung some points together to close within 16. Stotts took a timeout to quickly prevent a run. Bryant hit a jumper to cut the lead to 14, but Portland quickly scored thirteen straight points, including a pair of Lillard three-pointers, to end all hope for the Lakers and their fans at Moda.
End of Third: Portland 101, Los Angeles 76
The Blazer bench took over to open the fourth, and the Bryant-less Lakers took offense by scoring six quick points and forcing a timeout.It didn't help, as the D'Angelo Russell completed a four-point play to pull the Lakers within 15 after a 12-2 quarter-opening run. The Blazers bench could not start any offense, and nobody seemed willing to shoot against the active Laker defense. A clearly cranky Stotts called another timeout. Two minutes later, the Blazers led by 21 again. With the Lakers' last gasp officially spent, the teams emptied their bench to play out the final minutes. For the official record, Chris Kaman swished his obligatory elbow jumper.
The Blazers have a nice long home stand underway. They have a few days off to rest and practice before the Sacramento Kings arrive for a Tuesday night game. But stay tuned, late tonight Dave Deckard will have further analysis from tonight's game.
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