Trail Blazers

Lillard 'pinches' front of ankle as Trail Blazers 'miss opportunities' vs. Lakers

Trail Blazers
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In Los Angeles Friday night, the Lakers threw everything and everyone at Damian Lillard and Enes Kanter on the pick and roll.

Lillard was blitzed, trapped and then was forced to play through pain, or what he called as "irritation" of his right ankle for the entire second half.  

But yet, he still scored 35 points and dished out seven assists.

However, it wasn't enough to get by LeBron James and the Lakers.

With the 102-93 loss Friday, the Blazers are now riding a four-game losing streak with three games remaining before the All-Star break.  

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Lillard notched 15 first-quarter points on 5-of-8 shooting to help Portland take a 29-24 lead at the end of the first 12 minutes.

But the Blazers six-time All-Star played the second half in pain and he played nearly the entire 24 minutes after only sitting out in the final 46.8 seconds.

At the 1:07 mark of the second quarter, Lillard stepped on second-year player Talen Horton-Tucker after the Lakers shooting guard slid under Lillard when he rose up for three.

Horton-Tucker was whistled for the foul.

Lillard completed the four-point play after walking off the initial pain.

“I just pinched the front of it,” Lillard explained postgame. “When I landed, I landed on his foot a little bit… When you jump and you shoot the ball, you expect to land on the ground and I just kind of  -- part of my foot landed on his foot and then I just pinched it a little bit.”

I didn’t turn it or nothing. It was just irritated, but I just got to get treatment, I’ll be cool.

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts doesn’t believe Lillard’s mobility was compromised by the late second quarter play.

I know that he did hurt it and it might be sore tomorrow. But I think if generally there was pain there, I think with the adrenaline he was able to fight through it.

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts

And just as he always does, Lillard did fight through it.

But after jumping out to a quick 13-2 lead, Portland struggled to find a rhythm on offense, especially in the second half.

Lillard recorded 24 points in the first half, but Gary Trent Jr. was the only other Blazer in double figures with 10 points at the break.

For the game, four Blazers scored in double figures with Derrick Jones Jr. and Robert Covington each scoring 11 apiece. 

Lillard discussed how as a team they “missed some opportunities” on the offensive end, while Trent Jr. mentioned that they “came up short” after trying to execute the game plan.

As a team, the Blazers shot 38.6 percent from the field and just 29.7 percent from three.

 

Very uncharacteristic of this team. 

Yet, during their four-game losing streak, the offense has been inconsistent and it’s no surprise that during the Blazers' six-game winning streak the offense was rolling.

“I think in the first half we pretty much had our way,” Lillard said of their offensive attack Friday night. “I was able to get in the paint, played pretty free. I felt pretty comfortable.”

But after L.A. made a few halftime adjustments, the Lakers really clamped down on Portland’s pick and roll.

In the second half, they just loaded up, they was blitzing and I didn’t really have any space in that situation. My job is to draw the attention of the defense by coming off screens hard, trying to get downhill and then make the play out of it and that’s what I did – we just didn’t shoot the ball great tonight.

Damian Lillard

The Blazers point guard also explained how difficult it is to win when they aren’t taking care of the ball.

Portland turned the ball over 15 times for the game and made a few costly ones that allowed the Lakers to get out in transition in the second half.

Now the focus shifts to the Trail Blazers three-game homestand before a week-long break.

And since the Blazers want to finish the First Half strong, as Lillard noted postgame, he doesn’t believe this team will look past the next three games and just have their mind on the break drawing closer. 

"We’ve got to take care of homecourt.”