April 10, 2019 / 5:17 AM / 13 days ago

Blazers top Lakers, clinch home court in first round

EditorsNote: Changes Jemerrio Jones stat totals; other minor fixes throughout

Apr 9, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson speaks to the media before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers thought they would sneak quietly into the offseason after closing out their season at home against the playoff-bound Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

All that changed about 90 minutes before tipoff, however, when Magic Johnson announced his resignation as president of basketball operations for the Lakers, further complicating their offseason.

The game still meant something for Portland, though, and the Trail Blazers clinched home-court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs when Maurice Harkless made a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 104-101 win.

The Trail Blazers (52-29) can overtake the Houston Rockets (53-29) to finish third in the West with a win against the visiting Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

Harkless, who left the last game with left hip tightness, finished with 26 points, Enes Kanter had 22 points and 16 rebounds, and Damian Lillard had 20 points and eight assists for the Trail Blazers.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 32 points and eight assists, Mike Muscala scored 16 points, Alex Caruso had 12 points and 13 assists, and Jemerrio Jones finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who finished with 37 wins — two more than last season.

Harkless scored the final 10 points for Portland, starting with a three-point play that tied the score at 97-97 with 1:38 left.

The Trail Blazers led by five at the half and doubled that advantage when Harkless completed a three-point play for a 71-61 lead with 4:10 left in the third quarter. Los Angeles didn’t fade, however, scoring six straight points on back-to-back 3-pointers by Jones and Caldwell-Pope.

Caldwell-Pope sank another 3-pointer with 16.8 seconds left in the third to give the Lakers a 74-73 lead.

The Lakers scored the final five points of the first half to trail 53-48 at the break.

The Lakers played their sixth straight game without LeBron James (groin) and Kyle Kuzma (foot), their top two scorers. They also continued to be without third-leading scorer Brandon Ingram (arm) and starting point guard Lonzo Ball (ankle).

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