The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on Monday night in a game that went down to the wire due to careless plays down the stretch. However, Ryan Kelly would come up with a big slam at the end to win a game that should never have been in doubt.
Monday's contest started ugly with the first quarter featuring the two teams combining for 10 turnovers and the Lakers shooting only 36 percent from the field. However, Marcelo Huertas entered the game to start the scored quarter, and the 32-year-old Brazilian point guard immediately changed the style of play and displayed the importance of taking care of the basketball. Huertas found teammate after teammate to the tune of five assists in 12 first half minutes.
Huertas also has a reputation for shooting off one foot, and the former FC Barcelona player added six points to the scoreboard. With Huertas setting the table and controlling the pace of play, the Lakers entered the halftime break level with the visiting Blazers at 47-47.
In the third quarter, Lakers coach Byron Scott continued to try out lineups with roster cuts expected later in the week. Jordan Clarkson, who returned to play point guard found his rhythm and scored eight points in the period to bring his tally up to 17 points for the game. Clarkson earned in-arena player of the game honors with 17 points, four rebounds and three assists on the night.
In the fourth quarter, the Lakers tried a couple different looks with Metta World Peace, Robert Sacre and Kelly getting their first run of the night. World Peace, who won a title with the Lakers in his first stint with the team, heard the loudest applause of the night. However, the unit that also featured Jabari Brown and D'Angelo Russell at the end of the game gave away a nine-point lead late on.
Thankfully, Kelly came through to stuff home an emphatic slam dunk with 2.0 seconds to play and gave the Lakers a two-point lead. That lead would hold, as the Lakers won 104-102.
Next, the Lakers finish off their preseason against the Golden State Warriors in Anaheim on Thursday.
Notes: Jonathon Holmes dislocated his shoulder during the game and did not return. X-rays came back negative, but the forward will be out indefinitely. Kobe Bryant and Lou Williams did not play as both were held out due to injuries that the team does not categorize as serious. Both expect to be ready for the regular season opener on Oct. 28.