LOS ANGELES – Damian Lillard scored 41 points, Jerami Grant made a driving layup with three seconds left, and the unbeaten Portland Trail Blazers kept the Los Angeles Lakers winless under new coach Darvin Ham with a 106-104 victory Sunday.
Portland trailed 102-95 with 1:56 to play, but ended the game on an 11-2 run and won it when LeBron James missed a 17-footer at the buzzer.
Lillard carried the Blazers for long stretches, scoring 12 points in the final 5:06 before Grant finished it. After missing the final 47 games last season with injuries, Lillard has scored 41 points in Portland's second and third games of the new season. He also continued his longtime domination of the Lakers, improving his career average of 28 points per game.
“Obviously, Dame is back and he’s pretty much putting the league on notice,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said.
Patrick Beverley, James and Russell Westbrook all missed shots for LA down the stretch. After Anfernee Simons hit a leaning layup over Anthony Davis with 36 seconds left to trim Portland’s deficit to 102-101, Westbrook curiously shot and missed a 15-footer with 27 seconds to play and about 16 seconds left on the shot clock, capping his 4-for-15 day from the field.
Lillard then drilled his sixth 3-pointer, but James drove straight through the paint for an uncontested tying dunk with 7.7 seconds to go.
Grant, who finished with 16 points, drove and scored the tiebreaking bucket. James had a decent look at the basket on the final play, but couldn't connect.
“We all trusted the next guy to do their job,” Lillard said. “We were able to get stops, not turn the ball over and hit our shots.”
James had 31 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, while Davis finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots for the Lakers (0-3).
“We were getting some of the same shots (down the stretch) we were getting (earlier),” James said. “Just didn't make them. (Westbrook) got some good looks and wasn't able to knock them down. Defensively, we couldn't get multiple stops in a row. And Dame was Dame down the stretch.”
Lonnie Walker scored 15 points and Westbrook had 10 for Los Angeles. Westbrook said he took his remarkably early jumper in the final minute as a 2-for-1 to make sure the Lakers would get the final possession.
Westbrook sat out for 11 straight clock minutes until returning down the stretch, and the Blazers repeatedly guarded him with 7-foot Jusuf Nurkic, who was instructed to lay off the 2017 NBA MVP in a probable bid to force Westbrook to beat them. Westbrook missed both of his fourth-quarter shots.
The Clippers also defended Westbrook with a center on Thursday night, hurting the Lakers' offensive spacing.
Trail Blazers: Simons went 5 for 17 from the field. ... Former Lakers F Josh Hart had 16 rebounds.
Lakers: Troy Brown Jr. scored four points in 22 minutes in his debut with Los Angeles, which signed the Las Vegas native in July.
James scored at least 20 points for the 1,134th time in his 20-year career, tying Karl Malone for the most 20-point games in NBA history. James has scored at least 10 points in 1,099 consecutive games since January 2007, and he remains on track to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the top scorer in league history this winter.
NO 3, BUT D
The Lakers missed 17 of their first 18 3-point attempts, continuing their anomalously poor start to the season from distance. Los Angeles finished 6 for 33 on 3-pointers against Portland, falling to 25 for 118 (21.2%) this season.
Trail Blazers: Host Nuggets on Monday.
Lakers: At Nuggets on Wednesday.
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