The Fort Worth Press - Lakers squander late lead in loss to Trail Blazers

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Lakers squander late lead in loss to Trail Blazers
Lakers squander late lead in loss to Trail Blazers / Photo: © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

Lakers squander late lead in loss to Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard scored 41 points and Jeremi Grant drove for a game-winning layup with three seconds left Sunday as the Portland Trail Blazers dealt the Los Angeles Lakers their third defeat to open the NBA season.

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Portland erased an eight-point deficit in the final five minutes and emerged with a 106-104 triumph after Lakers superstar LeBron James missed at the buzzer.

Russell Westbrook missed two late shots, Lillard draining three-pointers after each miss. That included Lillard's step-back jump shot with 12.4 seconds remaining that put Portland up 104-102.

James responded with a dunk to tie it up, but Grant powered past James to score against a helpless Anthony Davis in the paint.

Lillard scored 12 of his points in the fourth quarter and connected on six of 13 three-point attempts.

The Lakers, meanwhile, hit just six three-pointers on 33 attempts as the shooting struggles that have dogged them early in their first season under coach Darvin Ham continued.

James finished with 31 points. Davis added 22 with 10 rebounds and six blocked shots.

Westbrook, under scrutiny after scoring just two points in a loss to the Clippers on Thursday, finished with 10 points, six rebounds and six assists.

After the game, James was quick to shut down questions from reporters he saw as soliciting criticism of Westbrook's late-game decisions making.

"I don't like to lose," James said. "I hate to lose, especially the way we had this game. Give credit to Portland.

"You guys can write about Russ ... I'm not up here to do that."

In other early action, the short-handed Charlotte Hornets cruised to a 126-109 victory over the Hawks in Atlanta.

Kelly Oubre scored 24 points and Nick Richards added a career-high 20 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for Charlotte, who were without injured LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier.

Ball has yet to play this season because of a sprained ankle and Rozier sprained his ankle in a loss to New Orleans on Friday.

Dennis Smith, starting in place of Rozier, scored 18 points.

Trae Young led the Hawks with 28 points, but his frustration boiled over late in the third, with the Hawks down by 20, and he was assessed a technical when he argued that the Richards should have been called for goaltending when blocking a shot by Young.

M.McCoy--TFWP