The Los Angeles Lakers may have been riding high coming into the night, but the Portland Trail Blazers finally brought them their Christmas hangover.
The Lakers lost 115-107, losing the first game in their past 60 that they held a lead going into the fourth quarter. An insane streak ends at the hands of a predictably good game from Damian Lillard (31 points, 5-of-10 from three) as well as a surprising, out-of-nowhere game from Gary Trent Jr. off the bench (28 points, 7-of-11 from three).
Player of the game – Dennis Schröder
Dennis Schröder continues to show why he was such a valuable addition for the Lakers, scoring 24 points on 16 attempts, adding four assists. His driving ability is going to continue to take some pressure off LeBron and Anthony Davis, and will supplement the Lakers’ superstars if one has an off night as Davis did tonight (13 points on 14 attempts).
He seemingly took his matchup with Damian Lillard personal, as the two seemed to be going at each other all night. Lillard definitely had the upper hand at the end of the night — individually and with his team — but Schröder definitely helped keep the Lakers alive throughout the evening.
Stat of the game – Combined box plus/minus of -43
This was the combined plus/minus belonging to Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell, with the two being the biggest contributors to the Lakers’ bench getting outshined by Gary Trent Jr. and the rest of the Trail Blazers bench. Kuzma wasn’t playing terribly during the game, he was moving around and getting some open looks here and there. However, they just weren’t falling as he only made two of his eight three-point attempts. He ended the evening registering zero assists or rebounds.
Montrezl Harrell was questionably left in the game through most of the fourth quarter, as his somewhat subpar defense resulted in Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers pulling away. It’s a little surprising that Frank Vogel didn’t opt for Marc Gasol in the game, as the Lakers could have used all the defense they could take going into the fourth quarter with a one-point lead.
Quote of the night – “We certainly missed his energy tonight.”
Those are the words of Frank Vogel right after the game tonight as he was talking about Alex Caruso’s absence from the game (per Harrison Faigen/Silver Screen & Roll). Not only did the Lakers miss his energy, they probably missed his perimeter defense as well as he would have probably affected the Lillard, Trent Jr., and the other Trail Blazers guards as he did during the first-round of the 2020 Playoffs.
Vogel credited Caruso as normally one of the most vocal Lakers, even when he's not playing.
"We certainly missed his energy tonight."
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 29, 2020
The Lakers will be starting the first of their MLB-style series on Wednesday, playing in San Antonio against the Spurs before they do the very same thing again on Friday. The Spurs are 2-1, but are coming off a 98-95 loss to the Pelicans on Sunday.