A 20-point deficit is often too much for a team to overcome.
Not the feisty, fun-to-watch
But comebacks from two massive deficits? Sorry. Too much to ask.
The effort was there from
It wasn't enough to offset a miserable game from
He wasn't alone.
The rapidly fading
If this is the last game before
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
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
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
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.
The ebullient second-year center was the last player selected in the 2012 draft. Now he's the first big man off the bench, supplanting
"I've been just waiting for my time and I've been waiting to seize the moment," Sacre said. "It's unfortunate we couldn't get the win tonight but that's what this team's all about. You never know who's going to come out and produce."
Sacre even heard some "M-V-P" chants in the fourth quarter. "I don't even know what to say," he said, trying to suppress a smile. "I knew my time would come."
Lakers fans were an active group Sunday, apparently eager to see a team that played hard despite a shrinking payroll.
And that's despite awful efforts in the first and third quarters, the Lakers outscored, 73-48.
"Obviously, we compromised the game at the beginning of the game and the beginning of the second half when we just weren't real good," Lakers Coach
It also wasn't a good sign that
"It hurts," D'Antoni said. "He's been playing well."
And it stuck the Lakers with only one healthy point guard. If that.
Steve Nash hasn't played since Nov. 10 because of nerve damage in his back and Blake sat with a huge ice bag on his elbow in the fourth quarter.
Henry played point guard almost the entire fourth quarter. Meeks, also a shooting guard, sometimes brought the ball up court too.
"A lot of this game is heart and soul and how hard you fight. I thought that group did it," D'Antoni said.