The Los Angeles Lakers-Portland Trail Blazers matchup made for must-watch TV on Sunday, as the rival teams featured in a tough, exciting battle. A subplot also emerged when Damian Lillard and Patrick Beverley got into a dust-up in the first half with the Blazers up by two points.
"I'll beat your a*s," Lillard appears to have said to a trash-talking Beverley before attempting a free throw.
Game of runs
After the altercation, which netted Beverley a technical foul, Portland went on a 31-8 run to finish the half and take a 71-46 lead entering the break. For a time on Sunday, it seemed like Los Angeles would throw in the towel early and go home with a disappointing road loss. Of course, such a result would have irked Lakers fans because Pat Bev's extra-curricular activity seemed to have ignited the Blazers' offense.
However, LeBron James willed his crew in the final two frames, catalyzing a 40-20 run in the third quarter to put the Purple and Gold back in the contest and a 35-21 scoring output in the last period to ice the game.
The four-time MVP led L.A. with a vintage 37 points and received timely help from Thomas Bryant and Dennis Schroder. Beverley chipped in using his trademark hard work and defense and finished the evening with a game-high +27 plus/minus.
Getting the last laugh
With the victory at hand, Beverley added insult to injury by mocking Lillard's signature move, which the 34-year-old had seen plenty of times before.
The Lakers enforcer knows how difficult it is to cover the former NBA Rookie of the Year. He has even credited Dame before for motivating him to go into the weight room and improve his quickness. Still, it seems there is no love lost between the two players. Lillard even sided with Chris Paul last year when Beverley went on a verbal attack against the Phoenix Suns star.
It remains to be seen if Lillard will react to his rival's antics. But he probably has more pressing matters on his mind because the loss to the Lakers dropped Portland to 13th place in the Western Conference with a 21-25 record. On the other hand, Los Angeles improved to 22-25, a game behind the 11th-seeded OKC Thunder.