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Comeback bid falls short for Lakers

Purple and gold make fourth quarter comeback, but too little too late against Portland

Posted: December 1, 2013 9:17 p.m.
Updated: December 1, 2013 9:17 p.m.
Los Angeles Lakers forward Nick Young, left, puts up a shot against Portland defenders on Sunday at the Staples Center. Los Angeles Lakers forward Nick Young, left, puts up a shot against Portland defenders on Sunday at the Staples Center.
Los Angeles Lakers forward Nick Young, left, puts up a shot against Portland defenders on Sunday at the Staples Center.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points and nine rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers blew most of a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter before holding on to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 114-108 Sunday night for their 12th victory in 13 games.

Damian Lillard had 26 points and nine assists, and Wesley Matthews scored 17 points for the Blazers, whose 11-game winning streak ended four days earlier in Phoenix.

Portland returned from its holiday break with its first road victory over the Lakers in seven tries since April 11, 2010, but only after the undermanned Lakers rallied within one point in a harrowing fourth quarter.

Xavier Henry scored 27 points and Jodie Meeks added 20 for the Lakers, who had won five of six to climb above .500 for the first time since they were 1-0.

The Blazers tied their franchise record with 13 victories in November, and they opened December with an unexpected nail-biter. They blew a 17-point lead in the first half, but thought they had taken control with a 41-point third quarter — their biggest period of the season.

Portland led 94-74 entering the fourth, but promptly failed to score for nearly six minutes. The Lakers mounted a 24-5 run with a motley lineup featuring no point guard and energetic backup center Robert Sacre, who had career highs of 12 points and seven rebounds.

Los Angeles cut Portland's lead to 99-98 on Shawne Williams' tip-in with 3:44 to play, but Lillard hit a 3-pointer with 2:54 left, and Matthews added another with 1:20 to play. Los Angeles kept it close, but the Blazers hit five of their six free throws in the final 23 seconds.

The Lakers were left with only nine or 10 healthy players — and one point guard — when Jordan Farmar limped to the locker room in the first quarter, straining his left hamstring shortly after checking in to the game. Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash still haven't returned to uniform, and center Chris Kaman — who recently recovered from a back injury — dressed but didn't play.

Pau Gasol, who missed Saturday's practice to deal with nagging injury issues, missed nine of his 10 shots in the first half before finishing with six points on 3-of-15 shooting.

But the Lakers' league-leading bench had another big game led by Henry, Sacre and Nick Young, who scored 17 points.

The Lakers hoped to play aggressively with the next four days off to rest, but instead got off to a horrific start. Portland took an 11-0 lead in the first four minutes as Los Angeles missed its first eight shots, stretching the margin to 21-4 before many fans had settled in their seats.

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni yanked four of his starters, and they gradually got back in it with a tying 19-6 run capped by Jodie Meeks' 3-pointer midway through the second quarter.

Lillard scored 11 points in the third quarter as Portland made 17 of its 24 shots while taking command. Los Angeles then scored 10 straight points to open the fourth, and the Blazers didn't get a field goal until 5:31 remained.


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