Trail Blazers continue dominance against Lakers
LOS ANGELES — Maurice Harkless usually isn’t called upon to close out games, but he adopted that role for the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.
Harkless scored 13 of his season-high 22 points in the fourth quarter to lift Portland to a 95-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Trail Blazers (17-16) have won 14 straight against the Lakers and eight in a row at Staples Center.
“We had to figure out a way to get something going,” said Harkless, who came in averaging 4.9 points this season. “My teammates did a great job finding me, and all I had to do was knock down shots.”
Shabazz Napier started in place of injured leading scorer Damian Lillard and had a career-high 21 points. CJ McCollum scored 17 points and Zach Collins contributed 11 off the bench for Portland.
Harkless, a 6-foot-9 small forward, made his biggest basket with 21.4 seconds remaining, grabbing an offensive rebound, putting it back while being fouled and making the free throw for a 94-92 lead. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed two 3-point tries in the final 10 seconds for the Lakers.
“I’m happy for him,” McCollum said of Harkless. “He stayed ready... We wouldn’t have won tonight if it wasn’t for him.”
Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Clarkson scored 18 points apiece for the Lakers, who played without second-leading scorer Brandon Ingram (right quadriceps contusion and left quadriceps tendinitis). Lonzo Ball had 10 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, and Julius Randle added 16 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
The Lakers, who came in last in the NBA in free-throw shooting at 69.4 percent, shot 12 of 20 from the line against the Trail Blazers.
“It’s another game that’s in the loss column that we could have won,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said.
The Trail Blazers were without Lillard for a second straight game after the two-time NBA All-Star strained a hamstring on Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs. Portland lost to the visiting Denver Nuggets on Friday night and were on the verge of falling below .500 for the first time this season.
The Trail Blazers scored the first five points of the game but then missed 10 consecutive shots as the Lakers moved ahead 10-7 on a 3-pointer by Josh Hart, who started in place of Ingram.
The Lakers (11-20) started 6 for 17 from the field but made 4 of 5 in the final 3 1/2 minutes and took their biggest lead of the opening quarter at 24-17 on Randle’s drive with 10.7 seconds left.
Portland scored the first six points of the second quarter to pull within a point and prompt Walton to call a timeout. The Trail Blazers twice pulled even with the Lakers in the second quarter but couldn’t get the lead. Los Angeles took a 49-44 lead into the break.
The Lakers led by as many as nine on two occasions in the third quarter before the Trail Blazers made two 3-pointers in the final minute to tie the score at 70 entering the fourth.
Walton said a key play came just before the final two 3-pointers of the third quarter, when Harkless rebounded his own miss and put it back to pull Portland within six with 1:38 left in the quarter.
“Right at that moment, Harkless outworked all of our guys,” Walton said. “We had three guys in the paint and he just went down and took it and laid it back up. ... Just like that, one play shifts momentum to their side, and then they take a lead in the fourth and we’re trying to scrap and crawl our way back because we weren’t willing to get dirty and grab a loose ball.”
NOTES: Portland reserve PF Noah Vonleh sat out after he dislocated his right ring finger against Denver on Friday night. ... Lakers C Thomas Bryant made his NBA debut after the 2017 second-round pick from Indiana was recalled from the G League on Dec. 16. Bryant had one point in four minutes. ... The Trail Blazers’ 14-game winning streak is the second longest against the Lakers in franchise history. ... Portland came in with the third-best 3-point field goal defense in the NBA at 34.6 percent and held the Lakers to 8 for 25 (32 percent). ... Portland came in last in the NBA in assists at 18.1 per game and finished with 19 against the Lakers.