The Los Angeles Lakers literally stole a victory on Friday night.
Now the Lakers are hoping to continue the momentum when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night.
The victory was just the second in six games for Los Angeles, which resides in 13th place in the Western Conference standings. Portland has lost 11 of its last 15 games and is right above the Lakers in 12th place.
Los Angeles trailed the red-hot Memphis Grizzlies by as many as 13 points and was still down 114-107 with 3:04 remaining.
The Grizzlies were later up one and had the ball when Dennis Schroder stole it from Desmond Bane and drove for a layup and was fouled with 7.6 seconds left. He made the free throw to give the Lakers a two-point edge and Los Angeles eventually won 122-121 to snap an 11-game Memphis winning streak that matched the longest in franchise history.
“We wanted to trap first before we fouled,” Schroder said of the winning sequence. “I saw Bane catch the ball, he had his back to me and I made a play. I got the steal, pushed the ball, got fouled and finished the play.”
Schroder recorded 19 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals in the victory. Russell Westbrook led the Lakers with 29 and LeBron James scored 23.
James was just 8 of 21 from the field and Los Angeles was outrebounded 63-47. But the Lakers committed just nine turnovers and figured out a way to prevail.
“We were resilient the whole game,” James said. “We stuck with the game plan. We’ve given ourselves a chance to win games.”
Los Angeles is hopeful that star big man Anthony Davis can return to the lineup late next week. Davis has missed the past 18 games while dealing with a foot issue. He is averaging 27.4 points and 12.1 rebounds but has played in just 25 games.
The Lakers and Trail Blazers split two games in Los Angeles earlier this season. James averaged 31 points.
Portland has fallen on hard times and even a heavy stretch of home games isn’t ending its slump.
The Trail Blazers are 2-4 during an 11-game span in which 10 are at home. They lost 105-95 to the visiting Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.
Portland scored 14 points in the opening quarter and trailed 57-34 at halftime. Star guard Damian Lillard was 1-of-10 shooting in the first half and the Trail Blazers missed 13 of 14 3-point attempts and committed 12 turnovers in the half.
“Their physicality really bothered us in the first half,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said. “We turned it over. The most glaring thing is we turned it over a lot in the first half, they got out, they got going. … The turnovers, they’re just deflating, they just deflate you. Not only does it deflate you, it energizes their group.”
Lillard finished with 25 points and 11 assists but was just 6 of 21 from the field. Jerami Grant added 24 points.
But the Trail Blazers were out of the game early despite a second-half push making the final score look respectable.
“You’ve got to just keep making them work and try to take that flame away from them,” Lillard said. “I think we reached a point where we kind of like we got it to go away and we got on a little bit of a run. It just took so much out of us to do that and the game is only 48 minutes.”
Lillard scored 41 points as Portland posted a 106-104 win over the Lakers on Oct. 23. He missed the 128-109 loss to Nov. 30 due to a calf injury.
–Field Level Media