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Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum each scored 30 points for Portland.
The Lakers used a 16-0 run in the third quarter to take a 17-point lead. Josh Hart hit a three-pointer with 9:44 left that gave the Lakers their biggest lead at 95-75, forcing a Portland timeout.
And the timeout might have been just what Portland needed to get back into the game.
The Blazers went on a 22-8 run, cutting the Lakers’ lead to six points with 3:34 left after a layup by Jusuf Nurkic.
Sloppy play once again came back to hurt the Lakers in the fourth quarter, but the Blazers couldn’t get much closer as James and JaVale McGee made crucial baskets in the final two minutes.
“LeBron closed them out over the final three minutes,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said of James.
McGee, who James said is a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, also had six blocks to add to his league-leading total.
“He’s doing a little bit of everything,” James said of McGee. “He’s leading the league in blocks. And tonight he saved us and covered our defensive mistakes with blocks at the rim.”
Portland shot a six for 35 (17 per cent) from beyond the arc and shot just 42 per cent from the field overall.
“Our defence won us the game tonight,” Walton said. “They missed some 3s, but we were contesting, chasing over the top and defending.”
The Lakers had seven turnovers in the fourth quarter and finished with 20 overall, but they survived their mistakes.
The Lakers sped to a good start, but the Blazers quickly regained control. Turnovers and second chances fuelled a 17-2 run by Portland in the first quarter.
The Lakers bench helped get Los Angeles back into the game in the first half and outscored the Blazers subs 51-26.
“Our second unit was outstanding tonight,” Walton said. “Rondo led it and then the lift that (Ivica) Zubac gave us off the bench was incredible.”
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