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After a 106-101 loss in Portland, the Los Angeles Lakers have a serious amount of work to do to pull themselves out of the play-in tournament. It was Damian Lillard time at the Moda Center, as Portland’s star scored a game-high 38 points on just 18 shots.
Anthony Davis looked more like himself with a team-high 36 points and 12 rebounds, but cold shooting and a struggling supporting cast doomed a Laker team that was without LeBron James and Dennis Schroeder.
Let’s get into three takeaways from Friday night’s loss:
A slow start hindered the Laker chances
AP Photo/Brandon Dill
8 points in the first 9 minutes for Damian Lillard helped pace Portland to a 22-10 lead to open the night. At the end of the first quarter, the Blazers had a 34-22 lead at home. The Lakers opened with cold shooting and the result was having to work there way back just to be in the game. Despite taking the lead in the third quarter behind Anthony Davis' individual greatness, an already injured team ran out of gas that they had used on an initial comeback.
Anthony Davis looks healthier, and maybe that is all that matters
Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
During the second half of the year, the Laker talk has been less focused on seeding and entirely focused on the health of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. In a year that has been a struggle for the Laker big, Davis got good lift on his jumper last night in Portland. Torching the Blazers in the midrange and from deep, Davis used the pick-and-pop to keep Los Angeles in the game. His defense also looked better than it has for most of the season. Overall, you could see a confidence in his body throughout the 36-point performance. Regardless of the loss or any play-in scenario, a healthy Anthony Davis is an obvious necessity for a playoff push.
The Lakers are in serious play-in trouble
Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
With the loss to Portland, the Lakers also lost the tiebreak to the Blazers. All of a sudden, the defending champions are in seventh place and in serious play-in game danger. The end of season five-game schedule includes the Suns, Knicks, Pacers, and Pelicans, as Los Angeles needs to make up two games on Portland to have a chance of not being in the play-in tournament.