The Trail Blazers brought the energy early in L.A.
Portland jumped out to a 13-2 start over the Lakers after Gary Trent Jr. and Derrick Jones Jr. made a quick impact on both ends.
With active hands on the defensive end and the Blazers finding their rhythm on offense led by Damian Lillard’s playmaking and scoring, Portland looked like the more motivated and energized team in the first quarter.
The two entered Friday’s game each riding a losing streak, but it was Los Angeles to snap it.
After cooling off in the second and third quarter, the Trail Blazers had a sloppy third quarter that led to the 102-93 loss.
Lillard notched 15 first-quarter points (5-8 FG) to help his team take a 29-24 lead at the end of the first 12 minutes.
But the Blazers six-time All-Star played the entire second half in pain, finishing the night with 35 points in the game.
Lillard was laboring in the second half after stepping on the foot of second-year player Talen Horton-Tucker late in the second quarter after Horton-Tucker slid under Lillard when the Blazers point guard rose up for three.
Lillard did not come out of the game, but it was apparent that the right ankle was bothering him for the rest of the way.
It was also apparent the Lakers are still a team trying to figure out their identity without Anthony Davis, who is dealing with a left calf strain and is not set to return until mid-March.
Portland was once again without Harry Giles (left calf strain), CJ McCollum (left midfoot fracture), Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist fracture) and Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture).
LeBron James, who saw time at the five and has been logging heavy minutes in AD’s absence, helped the Lakers claw back midway through the second quarter.
Heading into the final period, the Lakers held an 85-76 lead as the Blazers struggled to really get anything going offensively in the second half.
Sharing was caring early on for Portland.
The Blazers first five buckets were all assisted. The ball movement was on point early.
But it was the defense that really stood out against the Lakers in the first quarter led by Derrick Jones Jr. His length disrupted the Lakers whether it was on Kyle Kuzma or making James’ life difficult.
The Blazers took a 57-54 lead at halftime after Kanter hit a putback at the buzzer.
Lillard wasn’t getting much help on the offensive end. He had 24 points in the first half. Gary Trent Jr. was the only other Blazer in double figures with 10. For the game, only four players scored in double figures with Jones Jr. and Covington each scoring 11 apiece.
Lillard played the entire second half except for the final 46.8 second and notched 42 minutes while trying to keep his tweaked ankle warm. In the loss, he finished with 35 points and seven assists.
The Lakers stepped it up on the defensive end after the first quarter. Midway through the second quarter it was a block party for Los Angeles.
In the third, Portland committed costly turnovers. Plus, with Lillard not moving like he normally does, the Blazers offense was extremely inconsistent in the second half.
It was also a tough shooting night from three for both teams.
Montrezl Harrell gave the Blazers trouble on both ends. His energy lifted the Lakers as a team. And it was L.A.’s second chance points that got them back in the game in the first half and helped them get the win.
LeBron James started to heat up in the second quarter. He was on the attack, driving right at Robert Covington. James recorded 18 points in the first half. He finished with 28.
Damian Lillard showed off his toughness all night:
The Lakers’ second unit outscored the Blazers’ bench 31-13 through the first three quarters.
Next up: The Trail Blazers will tip-off a three-game homestand Monday night against the Charlotte Hornets. Portland and Charlotte will tip-off at 7:30p.m. PST on NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers.