LOS ANGELES—A few days after scoring 130 points in an impressive comeback victory in overtime, the Lakers (21-51) offense largely remained dormant Sunday, March 26, as they struggled to make shots in their loss to the Portland Trailblazers (35-38).
While both teams shot pretty poorly, 40 percent for the Blazers and 39 percent for the Lakers, there was a huge discrepancy in rebounds and 3-point shots that favored Portland. The Lakers were -19 on the boards, getting out rebounded 12-1 on offensive boards. Although they shot poorly overall, the Blazers shot well from behind the arc, going 12-28, while the Lakers shot a putrid 5-21 from long range.
Despite the Lakers obvious lack of offensive production, head coach Luke Walton seemed more affixed by his team’s poor second half defense.
“Our defense slacked in that third quarter,” Walton said. “The message at halftime to the guys was even though we couldn’t make any shots and we had only scored (32) points (at halftime), we were in the ball game still…Every time that we messed up a coverage or we misread a situation, Portland…made us pay for it.”
Portland guard Damian Lillard came on in the second half, as he put up 22 points, albeit on 7-20 shooting. On the other side, D’Angelo Russell had a decent game as well scoring 22 points.Tyler Ennis who came off the bench, scored 14 points while grabbing four steals. Nevertheless, their performances weren’t nearly enough to keep the Lakers from losing 15 of their last 17 games.
The team seemed to suffer from the absence of Brandon Ingram. He has scored double figures in 10 straight games, but he was out Sunday night due to patellar tendinitis. Jordan Clarkson, coming off a career high 35 points, was not able to continue his dominance either as he hurt his hand in the second quarter and finished 4-16 shooting with 10 points.
This loss marks the 12th straight time the Blazers have beaten the Lakers. After winning 11 of 14 games, they have surged to tie Denver for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western conference. Meanwhile the Lakers have a half game lead on Phoenix for second worst record in the league. If the Lakers maintain that spot they’ll have a 55.8 percent chance of retaining their draft pick. However, if the Lakers finish with the third worst record then their chance of retaining their draft pick drop to 46.9 percent.
At this point in the season, a top three draft pick might be the thing to salvage from the Lakers fourth consecutive losing season. The next time they take the court will be on Tuesday, March 28 against John Wall and the Washington Wizards.