Five takeaways from the Lakers 97-81 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers

Against a dangerous offensive team, the Lakers played well defensively for much of the game.

Their problem was that while the Trail Blazers struggled to score, the Lakers did too. And though the Lakers never got going, Portland did.


Here are five takeaways from Sunday's game.

1. The end result was actually good for both teams. Portland drew even with Denver for the eighth playoff spot. The Lakers remained half a game worse than the Phoenix Suns, record-wise, while Brooklyn earned its 16th win of the season. It's possible, though unlikely at this point, that Brooklyn could catch the Lakers in the standings.

2. There was a sense of inevitability to the Lakers' defensive lapse in the third quarter. They weren't shooting well, and typically when that happens their defense suffers. Lakers Coach Luke Walton explained why. "Most young players, when they go home at the end of the night they feel satisfied or not on whether or not they scored points as opposed to how they defended," Walton said. "… At this level, there's so much action going on and there's so many defensive coverages depending on who the personnel is in each coverage, do we send them left, do we send them right? Is the big man dropped into the paint or is he up because it's [Damian] Lillard coming off on his left? All this stuff is firing in our heads. When you're young you have to think about all of it. The better you become on the defensive end, and the more you play in this league and recognize everybody, you can just react to stuff. When you have multiple guys reacting to that kind of stuff, that's when you start to build a good solid defensive team."

3. All that said, the Lakers held an opponent under 100 points for the first time in nearly six weeks. The last time the Lakers did that was in a 97-96 loss to Sacramento on Feb. 14.

4. One statistical category in which the Lakers had a major disadvantage was rebounds. The Lakers missed 51 shots and had only one offensive rebound, according to the final box score. The Trail Blazers missed 53 shots and rebounded 12 of them. They also had eight more defensive rebounds than the Lakers.

5. Ivica Zubac admitted on Sunday that he didn't think he'd be starting this season. The reason he did was a combination of his own growth and the Lakers finding themselves far enough out of playoff contention that they could experiment more with their young guys. There are things a player can't learn unless he's actually on the court, and Zubac is getting a head start with that part of his development.

Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli