Last year, the Los Angeles Lakers rebounded from their opening night loss to the LA Clippers by winning the next seven and 17 of the next 18.
Three games into the 2020-21 season, they looked set to do the same. Having bounced back from their loss on ring night to the Clippers with wins over the Dallas Mavericks on Christmas and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
On the second night of their first back-to-back, the fourth game of the season allowed them an opportunity to extend their short win streak and repeat what they did last season. The visiting Portland Trail Blazers, however, had other plans.
Here are the biggest talking points from the Trail Blazers' 115-107 win over the defending champions:
'Dame Time' seals it
With five minutes to go on the game clock, the visitors led 100-99 and then, Damian Lillard took over.
Over the remainder of the game, he scored just as many as the Lakers did with eight and was responsible for 12 of the Blazers' final 15 points.
This Dame and-one to ice the game was tough 😤 pic.twitter.com/Hafbkbk3Rm- Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 29, 2020
.@bosnianbeast27 with a couple of klutch plays to seal the W 😤 pic.twitter.com/YvFochd4tC- Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 29, 2020
Knocking down shots with tremendous efficiency - 10-16 FGs; 5-10 3Ps; 6-6 FTs - he finished the game with 31 points, 21 of which came in the second half.
Bench outplayed, Lakers' unique win streak gone
Dating back to the beginning of the 2019-20 season, the Lakers were unbeaten when leading after three quarters.
Against Portland, they led 85-84 heading into the fourth quarter. So, this loss snaps that 59-game win streak.
The Blazers beat the Lakers 115-107 after Los Angeles entered the 4th quarter with an 85-84 lead.- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 29, 2020
This marks the end of the Lakers' streak of 59 straight wins when leading after three quarters. pic.twitter.com/eZOrfdsklS
Anthony Davis returned to the line-up, after sitting out the team's 36-point win over the Minnesota Timberwolves., to finish with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists. LeBron James was the biggest contributor with 29 points, nine rebounds, and six assists while Dennis Schroder chipped in with 24.
As a whole, it was a tale of two line-ups for the Lakers as their starting five was impactful but the same couldn't be said about their reserves.
All five Lakers starters had either a positive or neutral point-differential vs. Portland.- Samuel H. Quinn (@SamQuinnCBS) December 29, 2020
All five Lakers reserves had a negative point-differential vs. Portland.
Coming off a great game, Kyle Kuzma scored six points on 2-of-9 shooting from the field in 23 minutes but was a team-low -23. Montrezl Harrell recorded nine points and six rebounds in 27 minutes of action but was a -20 in his time on the court.
Gary Trent Jr.'s eruption off the bench
Although Lillard took care of the game late, the Blazers might not have been in the game if it wasn't for Gary Trent Jr.
The 6'5" guard erupted for 28 points in 24 minutes off the bench, knocking down 10-of-14 from the field and a career-high 7 triples on 63.6% efficiency.
💦💦💦- NBA (@NBA) December 29, 2020
28 points and 7 👌s for @gtrentjr as the @trailblazers win in Los Angeles! #KiaTipOff20 pic.twitter.com/FilrV0b7Fd
"Without him [Trent Jr.] having that type of performance this could be an easy win for them," Lillard said postgame. Trent was one of five Blazers in double figures and single-handedly outscored the Lakers bench by five points.
"Teammates finding me, you know, just being comfortable," Trent Jr. said in the postgame walk-off interview. "Showcasing what I can do, what I have been working on."
Gary Trent Jr. earns the walk-off interview.#RipCity pic.twitter.com/eBcQpyAibN- NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) December 29, 2020
After playing their first four games at home, the Lakers head out for the first road trip. They head to San Antonio first, where they will play the Spurs twice in three days, before moving onto Memphis where they will play the Grizzlies twice in three days.
Meanwhile, the Blazers will remain in Los Angeles to face the Clippers in a couple of days before traveling within California to San Francisco to face the Golden State Warriors twice in three days.
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