The Los Angeles Lakers will have to pick up the pieces Wednesday night when they host the Portland Trail Blazers two days after they crumbled in the fourth quarter of a home game against the Indiana Pacers.
The Lakers had a 17-point lead with just under 10 minutes remaining Monday before the Pacers went on a 10-0 run to close the gap. Los Angeles never trailed in the second half until the Pacers’ Andrew Nembhard hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Indiana a 116-115 victory.
The fourth-quarter collapse prevented the Lakers from winning for the sixth time in seven games after a 2-10 start.
“I wish we would have stayed a lot more aggressive, played with pace and also continue to be organized and move the ball, and that falls on me,” Lakers first-year coach Darvin Ham said. “I’ll take responsibility for that.”
If there is a positive the Lakers can lean on, it is that they finally are getting healthy. LeBron James had an ankle-injury scare early in Monday’s game but returned after a visit to the locker room and played 36 minutes, posting 21 points and seven rebounds. James has played three games after missing five with a groin strain.
The Lakers’ Anthony Davis returned Monday from a one-game absence because of a bruised calf and recorded 25 points and 13 rebounds. But he took just two shots in the fourth quarter as the Pacers were pushing their way back into the game. James was 2 of 8 from the field in the final quarter.
“Everything has to go wrong for you to lose a game like that, and everything went wrong,” James said.
Wednesday’s game will give the Lakers one last chance to play at home before they depart on a six-game Eastern Conference trip that will start Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Trail Blazers will enter Wednesday’s game after a 118-112 home loss against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday and will play their first back-to-back since they took road victories vs. Charlotte and New Orleans on Nov. 9 and 10. Since defeating the Pelicans, the Blazers are 2-7.
Anfernee Simons scored 37 points for Portland on Tuesday while Jerami Grant added 32 as the Blazers failed to protect an 18-point lead in the third quarter and a 13-point advantage in the fourth.
The Blazers’ Damian Lillard, who has averaged 26.3 points per game in 11 contests this season, has missed the past six games with a calf strain. Simons has averaged 23.9 points in 19 games this season.
The Clippers outscored Portland 36-17 in the fourth period as the Blazers shot 46.7 percent from the field in the game and 48.6 percent from 3-point range. Portland’s Nassir Little left Tuesday’s game with a right-hip strain.
“I thought we were in good shape — until the fourth quarter,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said.