Five takeaways from the Lakers' loss to the Portland Trail Blazers

Five takeaways from the Lakers' loss to the Portland Trail Blazers
Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews has his shot challenged by Lakers forward Nick Young during a Jan. 11 game at Staples Center. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Lakers (12-26) fell to Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers (30-8) on Sunday. Here are five takeaways from their 106-94 loss at Staples Center:

1. Through two games this week against the Lakers, Lillard has averaged 36.5 points, with most of his points coming late in the game to carry his team to victory.


"We played really tough, then Damian kind of takes over," Lakers Coach Byron Scott said after Sunday's game. "He just made some great shots. We tried to pressure him. We tried to trap him at times. He's just a heck of a player."

Lillard's Blazers teammate LaMarcus Aldridge spoke highly of the guard after the game.

"He's a very confident player and very skilled," Aldridge said. "He has a knack for those moments. I think he wants to be great in those moments. I've seen him do it over and over again."

2. Ronnie Price got his career high with 12 assists, but it's Lillard faking past Price, leading to a tremendous back-breaking dunk that will get the airplay. 

"I wouldn't say it was a dunk like [Russell] Westbrook. I just went up to finish a dunk. I took some contact, and it was an and-one," Lillard said. "I knew I had to go up strong. So I did."

Meanwhile, Price is still playing with a stitched-up nose, broken on Monday in Portland against the Blazers.

3. Wesley Johnson returned from a three-game absence to lead the Lakers with 17 points. Johnson hit three of five three-point attempts, looking natural after suffering a strained hip flexor.

"I just needed to get my legs underneath and slow down," Johnson said. "I had the proper treatment and rest."

4. Scott adjusted his rotation on Sunday, playing Nick Young as the backup shooting guard, with Wayne Ellington starting for Kobe Bryant. Ryan Kelly spelled Johnson at small forward, while Tarik Black took Robert Sacre's spot in the rotation.

In 20 minutes, Black scored six points with six rebounds, three on the offensive glass. Kelly scored five in 17 1/2 minutes.

5. Young continued to slump, missing eight of 11 shots.

"[I've been] in the gym every night," said Young, who is shooting 28.6% from the field over the Lakers' last seven games. "It's tough to think too much about it. I have to go out there and play carefree. That's a part of my game. If I'm thinking, I'm not playing."

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