Blazers falter down stretch, lose to Lakers
Bryant, Fisher lead late surge to carry L.A. to season sweep
LOS ANGELES - Deja vu haunted the Trail Blazers Sunday night at Staples Center.
The Los Angeles Lakers, with Kobe Bryant leading the way, outscored Portland 16-6 over the final five minutes to score a come-from-behind 84-80 victory.
Wind back to Feb. 23, when the Lakers - with Bryant in charge - rallied from a late seven-point deficit to win 106-101 in overtime at the Rose Garden.
On Sunday, Portland was ahead 74-68 with five minutes remaining, but the Lakers outscored the Blazers 16-6 the rest of the way.
'Once again, we have control of a game, and we don't execute down the stretch, and (the Lakers) tighten up their defense,' Portland coach Nate McMillan said. 'We have a few turnovers and miss a few shots.
'We had an opportunity. The things we've been doing well, we didn't do them' down the stretch.
The Lakers made eight of their final nine shots - four by Bryant, two by Derek Fisher. The Blazers, meanwhile, were two for 10 with three turnovers down the stretch.
'The only reason they scored at the end was off our turnovers, really,' Portland point guard Andre Miller said. 'We had control of the game, but we didn't keep on top of it. Every loss is big right now, but we move on.'
The victory was the 12th in 13 games for the Lakers (50-20), who clinched a fourth straight Pacific Division championship.
Portland (40-30) remains in sixth place in the Western Conference, but is only a half-game ahead of New Orleans (40-31) and two games ahead of Memphis (38-32).
NOTES - Portland's next action is at home Tuesday night against Washington. ... Portland center Marcus Camby - who had three points, 10 rebounds and four assists in 26 minutes off the bench - went down with an ankle injury late in the game and did not return. X-rays will be taken Monday. ... The Lakers were without center Andrew Bynum, who is suspended two games for a flagrant foul committed Friday against Minnesota. ... Nicolas Batum led Portland with 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting. Batum scored nine of the Blazers' first 11 points and had 19 points by halftime. ... Portland shot only .386 from the field and was 6 for 25 (.240) from 3-point range. L.A. shot poorly from long distance, too, making only 3 of 17 attempts from beyond the arc. ... the Blazers won the rebound battle 45-35. ... Bryant led the Lakers with 22 points.
Blazers Gerald Wallace and Wesley Matthews, who had huge games in Friday's win over Philadelphia, were quiet Sunday. Wallace had nine points and nine rebounds in 33 minutes. Matthews, who scored 28 points and was 6 for 9 on 3-point tries against the 76ers, went scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting in 19 minutes. ... guards Matthews, Miller, Rudy Fernandez and Brandon Roy combined to make only 9 of 40 attempts from the field. ... Miller had five assists to pass Bob Cousy and moved into 14th place on the NBA career (6,957). ... Matt Barnes banked in a 40-footer at the buzzer to bring the Lakers to within 66-62 after three quarters. ... the Lakers swept the season series 3-0, winning the series for the first time since 2004-05.