A 20-point deficit is often too much for a team to overcome.
Not the feisty, fun-to-watch Lakers.
But comebacks from two massive deficits? Sorry. Too much to ask.
It wasn't enough to offset a miserable game from Pau Gasol, who had six points on three-for-15 shooting and sat on the bench the entire fourth quarter.
He wasn't alone.
If this is the last game before Kobe Bryant returns from a torn Achilles' tendon, the Lakers will happily bury it. Bryant will practice Tuesday through Thursday and might make his season debut Friday in Sacramento.
That the Lakers (9-9) did this well without him was credible, especially with a payroll that was $21 million less than last season's ruinous collection of talent.
Their five on the floor for most of the fourth quarter Sunday totaled $5 million in salary. The average NBA salary per player is about $5.5 million.
Yet the active five were the ones who made the game interesting, the Lakers down 20 going into the fourth quarter and then only one, 99-98, after Shawne Williams' tip-in with 3 minutes 40 seconds to play.
The Lakers had successfully come back from an early 21-4 deficit, even taking a brief lead in the second quarter. It didn't quite happen again.
Damian Lillard scored six of his 26 points in the final three minutes and also blocked Jodie Meeks' three-point attempt with 14.9 seconds left and Portland up four.
LaMarcus Aldridge was a study in steadiness for Portland (14-3), his 27 points and nine rebounds easily topping anything Gasol did.
Gasol said he might need an MRI exam on his sprained right ankle. He also understood why he was benched in the fourth quarter, which also happened a handful of times last season.
"I wasn't upset because we were making a big run and I wasn't having a particularly good night," said Gasol, who had exactly as many points and rebounds (five) as Portland's Joel Freeland.
It's hard to be upset with Sacre, who successfully took Gasol's spot.