Lillard Leads Blazers To 124-112 Win Over Lakers
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Damian Lillard scored 34 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 31 points and 15 rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 124-112 Tuesday night.
The Blazers’ fourth straight victory, coupled with Houston’s loss at Brooklyn, moved Portland within 1 1/2 games of the Rockets for fourth place in the Western Conference and home-court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. The Rockets have three games in hand.
Nick Young, the fifth and last player off the Los Angeles bench, made his first eight shots and finished 15 for 26 with a season-high 40 points. But it wasn’t enough to prevent the Lakers’ 10th defeat in 14 games. They slipped to 25-49 — the most losses by the club since finishing 33-49 in 1993-94. The franchise hasn’t lost 50 games in a season since 1974-75 (30-52).
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni used his 33rd different starting lineup, using Pau Gasol at power forward alongside Chris Kaman. Gasol returned to the lineup after missing four games because of vertigo.
Gasol, whose 22 points at Portland on March 3 helped the Lakers end Portland’s five-game winning streak, played 28 minutes in the rematch and had nine points and seven rebounds. Kaman finished with 12 points and six boards.
The Lakers were bolstered by the return Xavier Henry and two-time MVP Steve Nash, who played in only his 13th game of the season and came off the bench for just the third time in his 18-year career.
Nash, who turned 40 on Feb. 7, had 10 points and 10 assists in 22 minutes. The eight-time All-Star has been plagued most of the season by nerve root irritation following his comeback from a broken left leg, which led to issues with his back, hip and hamstrings.
Henry was sidelined for three of the previous five games because of a sore right knee and a torn ligament in his left wrist.
The Lakers, who beat Phoenix on Sunday by limiting the Suns to 8-for-36 shooting from behind the arc, faced another team that depends on its long-range shooting. The Blazers were 13 for 29 from behind the arc.
Aldridge, playing his fourth game after missing the previous seven because of a bruised lower back, hit a 13-footer to cap an 18-9 run that extended Portland’s two-point halftime margin to 81-70 at the midway mark of the third quarter.
Young kept the Lakers within striking distance with his 3-point shooting, draining one with 10:47 left in the game to pull them within 93-86. But Lillard responded with a pair of 3-pointers 28 seconds apart to extend Portland’s margin to 13 points, and Los Angeles got no closer than nine the rest of the way.
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