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NBA highlights on Feb. 26: Lakers end loss-streak as Schroder returns
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Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers passes in the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers passes in the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

The Los Angeles Lakers put an end to their three-loss-streak with a comeback victory over the Portland Trail Blazers 102-93 at Staples Center on Friday.

The sides shared quite a few things in common before this game. Both suffered three straight losses; both lacked their second-most-important player; both were short of offensive methods.

Enes Kanter (L) of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots in the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center, February 26, 2021. /CFP

Enes Kanter (L) of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots in the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center, February 26, 2021. /CFP

The purple and gold were better-prepared. The Trail Blazers relied on  Damian Lillard and EnesKanter's individual attack, and the latter became the major target of the Lakers' defense in the first half. Kanter worked hard enough as he grabbed 17 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass, and went 5-5 in free throws, but he was 2-7 in field goals.

Meanwhile, Lillard drained four triples to score 24 points in the first half, which put the Trail Blazers in the lead 57-54. Despite the trail, the Lakers and especially LeBron James remained calm and collected, nothing like how they were in the painful loss against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.

Dennis Schroder (R) of the Los Angeles Lakers defends Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers in the game at Staples Center, February 26, 2021. /CFP

Dennis Schroder (R) of the Los Angeles Lakers defends Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers in the game at Staples Center, February 26, 2021. /CFP

The purple and gold switched their aggressive defense to Lillard from the third quarter. He would always face double-teaming, forcing him to pass the ball to teammates to handle in the first half. As a result, Lillard was 4-9 to get only 11 points in the second half and while committing three turnovers.

The Lakers' offense was as disappointing as usual since they only made seven triples at a 3-point rate of 25.93 percent. However, they forced 15 turnovers out of the opponents who only delivered 19 assists in total. Moreover, the purple and gold turned them into 22 turnover points and 23 fast break points.

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers in the game at Staples Center, February 26, 2021. /CFP

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers in the game at Staples Center, February 26, 2021. /CFP

Dennis Schroder's return had a lot to do with the team's improved game. Sure he's never an elite defender, but the German guard has the speed to pierce into the Trail Blazers' defense to launch offense. That means James did not have to always hold the ball in his own hands and was able to invest more attention in defense.

That partly explained his four steals and three blocks on the floor, in addition to the 28 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists he had.
Other games on Friday (away teams come first):

Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors looks on in the game against the Houston Rockets at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors looks on in the game against the Houston Rockets at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

Houston Rockets 111-122 Toronto Raptors

The Raptors head coach Nick Nurse could not attend the game with his team because of the league's health and safety protocols. Another four assistant coaches, plus their young ace Pascal Siakam were absent too. Six-All Star guard Kyle Lowry proposed himself for the coaching position temporarily but was declined by the team for the sake of the collective bargaining agreement.

None of the above kept the Raptors from beat the Rockets at home. Norman Powell went 10-15 in field goals and 4-8 in 3-pointers to score court-high 30 points. Lowry as the team's commander on the floor had a triple-double of 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

The Rockets suffered their 10th straight loss, matching the worst record this season created by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Victor Oladipo scored 27 points while John Wall contributed 21 points and 12 assists.

Kemba Walker #8 of the Boston Celtics shoots in the game against the Indiana Pacers at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

Kemba Walker #8 of the Boston Celtics shoots in the game against the Indiana Pacers at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

Indiana Pacers 112-118 Boston Celtics

Both teams received good news before Friday's game at TD Garden. Jayson Tatum entered the All-Star starting lineup and Domantas Sabonis was picked into the All-Star reserves after Kevin Durant quitted the event.

Nonetheless, neither was the hero of the game – Kemba Walker was. Walker had been struggling since he returned from injury, but he finally found part of his best form back in this game by dropping 32 points and six assists, helping the Celtics pocket a home win.

De'Aaron Fox (C) of the Sacramento Kings drives toward the rim in the game against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

De'Aaron Fox (C) of the Sacramento Kings drives toward the rim in the game against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

Sacramento Kings 110-107 Detroit Pistons

The Kings managed to follow the Rockets' steps after putting an end to their nine-loss-streak with a close win over the Pistons. Though the Kings only shot at 7-32 from downtown, they made up offensively with crazy charging against the rim. De'Aaron Fox and Harrison Barnes together went 17-25 in free throws. Richaun Holmes grabbed six offensive rebounds.

Jerami Grant had game-high 30 points for the Pistons after making 14 of his 15 attempts on the free-throw line. Meanwhile, the team's rookie forward Saddiq Bey was 5-9 in 3-pointers to get 17 points.

Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat dunks in the game against the Utah Jazz at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat dunks in the game against the Utah Jazz at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

Utah Jazz 116-124 Miami Heat

The Heat are getting last season's NBA Finals team back as they took the fifth win in a row at American Airlines Arena. Jimmy Butler scored 33 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. His incredible performance, added by the 26 points by Goran Dragic off the bench were why the Heat managed to upset the league's leader Jazz at home.

Burying 15 triples at a 3-point rate of 32.61 percent was not the best Jazz could do. Neither was the 11-26 FG shooting performance by Donovan Mitchell despite the 30 points he got.

Chris Paul (R) of the Phoenix Suns drives toward the rim in the game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

Chris Paul (R) of the Phoenix Suns drives toward the rim in the game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

Phoenix Suns 106-97 Chicago Bulls

The Suns trailed in rebounds 42-30 to the Bulls and only made six triples at a 3-point rate of 27.27 percent. They only scored 20 points in the second quarter, watching the Bulls establish a 12-point lead after the first half.

Fortunately, the Suns had Chris Paul. The 35-year-old delivered 10 assists in the second half, including six in Q4. The team launched a 60-39 in the last two quarters, claim a valuable comeback victory on the road.

Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Los Angeles Clippers posts up in the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Los Angeles Clippers posts up in the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

Los Angeles Clippers 119-99 Memphis Grizzlies

The Clippers got vengeance on Friday against the Grizzlies for their 28-point at FedExForum two days earlier. Kawhi Leonard was 8-13 in FGs and perfectly 11-11 in free throws to score 30 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

The Clippers exploited the opponents' perimeter shooting weakness by constantly closing in around the paint on defense and the Grizzlies failed to make any response. Going 9-28 from the arc ruined all the efforts by the home team.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots in the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots in the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

Atlanta Hawks 109-118 Oklahoma City Thunder

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander put down 24 points, five rebounds and four assists to lead the Thunder to claim their third win of the past four games. He's not the only surprise of the team on Friday night. First-year guard Theo Maledon had 13 points and 12 assists. Darius Bazley got a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Having six players reach double-digit points did not bring the Hawks a win. Though John Collins scored 25 points and Clint Capela put down 17 points and 21 rebounds, the team need Trae Young to contribute more than 17 points and eight assists to win.

Stephen Curry (L) and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors hi-five each other in the game against the Charlotte Hornets at Chase Center in San Francisco, California, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

Stephen Curry (L) and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors hi-five each other in the game against the Charlotte Hornets at Chase Center in San Francisco, California, U.S., February 26, 2021. /CFP

Charlotte Hornets 121-130 Golden State Warriors

Together, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green brought the Warriors to their first three-win-streak this season by getting the vengeance against the Hornets at Chase Center. Green got his first triple-double this season of 11 points, 12 rebounds and career-high 19 assists, which is also the most assists delivered by a Warrior in almost 13 years.

Curry scored 29 points, nine assists and three triples. This is his 95th consecutive game in which he drained a 3-pointer, matching the third-longest record in NBA history kept by his teammate Klay Thompson. The first- and second-longest records belong to Curry himself (157) and Kyle Korver (127).

Furthermore, when Curry made a layup at 8:07 in the first quarter, he became the fourth one in franchise history to bury at least 6,000 field goals, following Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry and Chris Mullin.

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