Kyle Kuzma sank a three-point shot in transition to cut the Lakers’ deficit to seven points with 2:06 left in the game but the Trail Blazers never surrendered the lead for a 128-119 victory in the season opener for both team Thursday night in Portland.
The Lakers cut the deficit to five points, 124-119, when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made a three-pointer with 31 seconds left, but that was as close as they could get.
Nik Stauskas converted a pair of free throws to protect Portland’s lead with 20 seconds left and Damian Lillard sank two more to seal the win.
Moments after the Lakers took their first lead of the third quarter, the Trail Blazers went on an 8-0 run to surge back into the lead.
Lonzo Ball made a shot for an 82-81 lead with 2:40 left in the quarter and Josh Hart added a three-pointer to reclaim the lead, 85-83, after an Evan Turner basket.
Maurice Harkless gave the Trail Blazers a 91-85 lead with 45 seconds left, but Ball converted a pair of free throws and Hart closed the quarter with another three-pointer to cut the Trail Blazers’ lead to 93-91.
Brandon Ingram shook off two missed free throws to make a pair of shots and Kyle Kuzma threw down a dunk off a feed from Josh Hart for a quick six-point run that cut the Trail Blazers’ lead to 79-78 with 4:08 left in the third quarter.
Just after the Lakers cut their deficit to one point, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard do what they do best — combined to make three consecutive shots including a three-pointer by each — to increase the Trail Blazers lead to 79-72 with 6:28 left in the third quarter.
Brandon Ingram made three shots and JaVale McGee converted three of four free throws to bring the Lakers to within 71-70 moments after taking a brief 69-67 lead.
The Portland Trail Blazers trailed by 10 points midway through the first quarter but used a 19-6 run to claim a 34-31 lead over the Lakers at the end of the first quarter.
LeBron James has 13 points on five-of-six shooting from the field while making all three of his free throws. James also had two thunderous dunks early in the game when the Lakers ran off to a 25-15 lead.
Damian Lillard, who has been driving down the lane at will, also had 13 points on four-of-eight shooting, the makes all layups. He’s also made all five of his free throws.