Lillard rescues Blazers
The Trail Blazers continued their winning ways Monday night at Staples Center, and this one was of the epic variety.
Damian Lillard put his teammates on his back again, exploding for 19 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter as Portland came from behind to beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 108-103.
Lillard scored 15 straight points — including four 3-point shots in a row — as the Blazers (38-26) rallied from an 11-point deficit in the final 5:26 to win their seventh game in a row.
CJ McCollum added 22 points and Jusuf Nurkic collected 16 points and 16 rebounds as Portland beat the Lakers for the 15th consecutive time dating to March 2014.
The win kept the Blazers in third place in the skin-tight NBA Western Conference playoff race, a game ahead of San Antonio, New Orleans and Minnesota.
Portland had the best of the early going, taking a 46-32 lead midway through the second quarter. The Lakers cut the difference to 55-52 at the half, then scored the first seven points of the third quarter to seize a 59-55 advantage.
The Blazers made only one of their first 10 shots from the field in the quarter as the Lakers stoked the margin to 74-62. They outscored Portland 25-15 in the third quarter to take an 80-73 lead into the final period.
The Blazers trimmed it to 84-80, but the Lakers pushed it to 97-86 with 5:30 remaining. Portland rallied with a 14-0 run, Lillard finishing it on three consecutive 3's for a 100-97 lead with 3:10 to go.
Kyle Kuzma's layup cut the L.A. deficit to 100-99, but Lillard drilled another 3 to make the score 103-99 with 2:21 to play. Kuzma split a pair of foul shots, then Lonzo Ball knocked down a trey to tie the game at 103-103 with 1:57 on the clock. Lillard made one of two at the line to put Portland back ahead 104-103 with 1:24 left.
Nurkic sank two free throws to give the Blazers a 106-103 lead with 1:16 to go. Neither team scored again until Shabazz Napier made two foul shots with one second left. Napier had stripped Isaiah Thomas of the ball as he rose up for what could have been a game-tying 3-point shot seconds earlier.
NOTES: Portland's next action is at home Tuesday night against hapless New York (24-40), which has lost 12 of its last 13 games. ... McCollum missed a pair of free throws that could have wrapped up the game with 7.7 seconds left. ... Julius Randle had 21 points and nine rebounds and Thomas scored 19 points for the Lakers, but Thomas made only 5 of 21 shots from the field.