“Great to snap that,” James said of the Lakers‘ streak of futility against Portland. “They’re a very good team, obviously. To beat Portland, you can’t just come in and win without playing really hard and really well.”
Rajon Rondo gave the Lakers a huge lift off the bench, finishing with 17 points and 10 assists in 25 minutes.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum each scored 30 points for Portland.
And the timeout might have been just what Portland needed to get back into the game.
“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 6 for 35 (17 percent) from beyond the arc and shot just 42 percent from the field overall.
“Our defense 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.
“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.”
“It’s hard to get a handle around the league where defense is,” Stotts said. “The numbers say we’re 11th but it doesn’t feel like it, but we are. I think this season has to settle in to see where we are with it. Unless you hold a team to 80 or 90 you’ll always find things you have to get better at.”
Lakers: Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler will join the Lakers once he clears waivers after agreeing to a contract buyout. A person with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed the buyout plan to The Associated Press on Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Suns had not yet revealed it publicly.
“I like Tyson Chandler,” Stotts said. “Great teammate, obviously that was a few years ago but he impacts the game at the defensive end. He’s a great locker room guy, great teammate. He’s all about winning. So, any team that has Tyson is going to be better for it.”
Lakers: Home against Toronto Raptors on Sunday.
Trail Blazers: Home against Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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