- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Just when you thought they were out of it, the Los Angeles Lakers came storming right back. Twice.
The Lakers fell down by 17 points in the first quarter and found themselves up by two in the second quarter.
Then they trailed by 20 after the third and cut that all the way down to one in the fourth.
But L.A. never quite got over the hump in a 114-108 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Portland pushed its lead to five with a Wes Matthews (17 points) 3-pointer. Jodie Meeks got it down to three with a couple of free throws. Damian Lillard boosted it to four with a freebie. Nick Young got it back to two with a layup. Mo Williams doubled that back to four again with a pair of his own from the free-throw line. Meeks tried a pull-up jumper the next time down, but Lillard blocked him and added two more free throws and that sealed it.
A loss is a loss, but the Lakers have made strides even from, say, that Minnesota game when they were buried in the first quarter and never came back up for air.
How it happened: The Blazers outscored the Lakers 41-24 in the third quarter, with Lillard scoring 11 of his 26 for the game in the period as Portland shot 70.8 percent (17-for-24). The Lakers gave an honest effort in the other three quarters, but that clunker in the third was too much to overcome.
What it means: The Lakers' time above .500 was short lived as they've now settled back at 9-9. While it's never a good feeling to lose at home, the Lakers shouldn't dwell on this one too much as the Blazers are a good team (14-3) and their next three games are against three teams -- Sacramento, Toronto and Phoenix -- with a combined winning percentage of .355 (16-29).
Hits: Xavier Henry scored a career-high 27 points.
Robert Sacre had career highs in points (12) and rebounds (seven).
Nick Young continued his Sixth Man of the Year campaign with 17 points off the bench.
Meeks scored 20 and Steve Blake had 13 points and nine assists.
Misses: Jordan Farmar left the game after playing only one minute in the first quarter because of a moderate strain of his left hamstring and did not return.
Pau Gasol shot 3-for-15.
Stat of the game: The Lakers started the game 0-for-8 from the field as Portland built an 11-0 lead.
2dMarc Stein and Ramona Shelburne