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LOS ANGELES -- Damian Lillard scored 22 points and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 97-81 on Sunday night to pull even with Denver in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Both the Blazers and Nuggets are 35-38 with nine games left in the regular season. They play each other Tuesday in Portland.

Denver lost at home to the New Orleans Pelicans earlier Sunday night.

Portland took control by outscoring the Lakers 37-24 in the third quarter and led by as many as 26 points. Los Angeles shot 39 percent from the field and was outrebounded 61-42.

Allen Crabbe added 18 points off the bench for the Blazers, and Noah Vonleh grabbed 14 rebounds.

D'Angelo Russell led the Lakers with 22 points, and Tyler Ennis scored 14 off the bench.


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Jordan Clarkson dishes it back to Julius Randle who flies in for the two-handed throwdown.
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D'Angelo Russell goes behind the back in transition before laying in the finger roll against the Blazers.
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Noah Vonleh catches the Lakers defense off guard and rises for the big one-handed flush.
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Damian Lillard tries scoring over Julius Randle, but the big man blocks Lillard's shot.
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Corey Brewer gets a piece of the ball on defense, and D'Angelo Russell uses a nice fake to drop in the layup on offense against the Blazers.
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LOS ANGELES -- Bronze is permanent, beef is temporary.

We received this lesson in temporal qualities (in addition to an unexpected history of statues) at the unveiling of Shaquille O'Neal's dunking likeness at Staples Center on Friday, an affair that had Shaq and Kobe Bryant sharing the stage and exchanging compliments, a ceremony that officially fused the once-wayward center to the Los Angeles Lakers.

As dominant as Shaq's run in Lakerland was -- with three championships, three NBA Finals Most Valuable Player awards and the lone regular-season MVP of his career -- this honor seemed far from inevitable after the Great Laker Breakup of 2004. The Shaq-and-Kobe feud had reach irreconcilable status, with Phil Jackson offering behind-the-scenes details in his book, leading the Lakers to trade Shaq to the Miami Heat and dispatch Jackson. O'Neal spent the next couple of years in Miami mocking the Lakers and owner Jerry Buss at every opportunity as they floundered while he won another championship.

But the reconstruction began the day he retired, in June 2011, with Buss offering a congratulatory phone call that caught Shaq off guard. He emerged from a room in his house in disbelief, his agent recalled Friday. Shaq was at his home in Florida. But he was on his way back into the heart of Lakerland.

Shaq was more comfortable in his giant skin than any other NBA big man, but the flip side of that was he wanted to be liked. He would joke, but he wasn't happy unless he got the immediate feedback of hearing people laugh at his jokes. He'd keep mental notes at who was standing around his locker and who would leave to head over to Kobe's. And he wanted his jersey retired in L.A. It was something he talked about since his arrival in L.A. and something he found himself still wondering about during a conversation in the Staples Center visitor's locker room while he was playing for the Phoenix Suns


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Lakers top Wolves in OT

March, 24, 2017
Mar 24
11:15
PM PT


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Jordan Clarkson scores 35 points, including eight 3-pointers, to rally the Lakers past the Timberwolves 130-119 and snap Los Angeles' six-game skid.
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LOS ANGELES -- Jordan Clarkson had career highs of 35 points and eight 3-pointers, and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 130-119 in overtime Friday night to snap a six-game skid.

Julius Randle added 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, who earned just their second victory since the All-Star break. They had lost 15 of 16 coming into the matchup of last-place teams in their respective divisions.

Andrew Wiggins scored 36 points before fouling out with 1:17 left in OT and Karl-Anthony Towns added 25 points and 13 rebounds for Minnesota, which dropped its fifth in a row.

The Wolves blew a 15-point lead in the third.

The Lakers dominated the extra session, when Clarkson had seven points. They scored the first eight points to take a 117-109 lead before Wiggins hit a 3-pointer.


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D'Angelo Russell misses the 3-pointer, but Corey Brewer flies in for the emphatic putback slam.
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Ricky Rubio delivers an on-point behind-the-back pass to Brandon Rush for the dunk.
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Tyus Jones gets the steal and gets it to Karl-Anthony Towns for the flashy slam.
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Ricky Rubio schools Lakers defense with an incredible ball fake and caps the play with a layup.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
D'Angelo Russell
PTS AST STL MIN
15.4 4.8 1.4 28.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Randle 8.7
AssistsD. Russell 4.8
StealsD. Russell 1.4
BlocksI. Zubac 0.9