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PORTLAND, Ore. — With his team down by 25 points at the half after being outscored 45-13 by the Trail Blazers in the second quarter, Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham kept his comments to the players brief during the break.
Ham’s exit provided an opening for Lakers guard Patrick Beverley to share a message that resonated with the group in the impromptu players meeting.
“Told the guys, ‘Just turn our swag up,'” said Beverley, who had a plus-minus of plus-27 in the 29 minutes he was in the game. “Understand we’re fortunate to play a game that gives us stability to take care of our families, be able to live a lifestyle, a fortunate lifestyle that a lot of people dream about.
“So regardless of what’s going on, have fun with this s—. Stay swaggy. That was my message, and we came out and responded.”
The Blazers outscoring the Lakers by 32 in the second quarter was the widest margin by any NBA team in any quarter this season. What came next was one of the biggest turnarounds in Lakers franchise history — tied for the second-largest halftime deficit overcome to win, behind only the 28-point comeback L.A. had against the Dallas Mavericks in December 2002.
Beverley, who was whistled for a technical foul in the second quarter for jawing with Damian Lillard while the Blazers star was at the free throw line, continued to talk on the court in the second half — and backed it up with ferocious on-ball defense.
“I think it’s inspiring, man,” Ham said of Beverley. “When you step out on this floor at this level, you have to feel like you’re one of the best … and believe it. And he’s been consistent in that regard, in terms of trying to provide a spark.
“We’ve brought him here to be a defensive agitator on behalf of the Lakers in a good manner. And he’s done that. And tonight, it was on full display, as well.”
L.A. outscored Portland 75-41 after halftime, and when it appeared the comeback was all but complete, Beverley mocked Lillard’s signature “Dame Time” wrist tap by shaking his own wrist and starting to hit it, miming as if the watch he was wearing was broken then pretending to take it off and put it in his pocket.
“I mean, that’s PB,” Schroder said with a laugh when asked about Beverley’s wristwatch goof. “That’s what he does. He lives for those moments, and he’s been doing it throughout his whole career. So you can’t blame him.”
L.A. shot 56.5% in the second half and held the Blazers to 30.8% shooting.
“They started to smell blood, and LeBron [James] just kept attacking, kept attacking,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said of the shift in energy in the third quarter. “We were out there a little vulnerable, and then it became a game.”
James scored 20 of his 37 points in the second half, getting into the lane time and time again and finishing.
“You can either go out and just lay down and get ready for next game or you can see what can happen in the third quarter and make a game of it,” James said. “And for us as competitors and our team and our makeup this year, we’re not a lay-down team. It’s just not the makeup of our club.”