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LeBron James scores 37 points as Lakers rally in wild comeback over Portland

LeBron James scores 37 points as the Lakers overcome being outscored 45-13 in the second quarter in a comeback win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

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LeBron James scores 37 points as Lakers rally in wild comeback over Portland
PORTLAND, OREGON - JANUARY 22: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks to pass.

Lakers star LeBron James controls the ball during a 121-112 comeback win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night. James had 37 points to move to within 224 of the NBA’s all-time scoring record. (Steph Chambers / Getty Images)

The Lakers couldn’t miss. Then they could. And then they couldn’t again.

Best to keep the inexplicable simple.

Despite being outscored by 32 points in the second quarter, the Lakers came back from 25 down in the third to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 121-112 on Sunday night. It was the second-largest second-half comeback in franchise history.

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“We’re not a lay-down team,” Lakers star LeBron James said. “It’s just not the makeup of our club.”

James barreled his way to 37 points, Dennis Schroder scored all but two of his 24 in the second half, and Thomas Bryant finished with 31 points and 14 rebounds, punctuating the win with two monster dunks in crunch time.

“It was as simple as us having a conversation,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “… Just how many times do we have to watch this movie before we start to change? And we can start right now.”

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They somehow found a way.

“What changed was our demeanor,” Bryant said.

“I told the guys to turn our swag up,” guard Patrick Beverley said.

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Schröder and Beverley picked up the defensive intensity on Portland’s guards, and the Lakers (22-25) started to cook. They outscored the Trail Blazers 75-41 in the second half.

At the final horn, Beverley pointed to his wrist — mocking Portland star Damian Lillard’s “Dame Time” celebration.

“Always good to see Dame, hell of a point guard in this league,” Beverley said. “… It was a team effort tonight. It just wasn’t one man.”

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Lillard scored 24 points but shot just five for 17 from the field for the Trail Blazers (21-25), and Beverley finished a team-best plus-27.

To orchestrate one of the wildest comebacks in NBA history, the Lakers first had to be historically bad.

And were they ever.

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The Lakers made their first six shots of the game and led by 14 points early before the Trail Blazers pushed back into the game before easily breaking through.

Portland won the second quarter 45-13, tied for the second-biggest scoring margin in one quarter since the NBA added the three-point arc in the 1979-80 season.

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“They jumped on us and knocked us down,” James said. “Thank God for the standing eight count.”

It was a complete collapse, and the numbers were staggering.

The Trail Blazers’ Anfernee Simons, who finished with 31 points, made six shots on eight tries in the second quarter. The Lakers as a team made six shots the entire quarter. The six field goals were one less than their seven turnovers. Schröder was a minus-27 in the quarter. Portland reserve big man Drew Eubanks played just less than nine minutes.

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It was the 10th time in NBA history that a team got outscored by 32 points or more in a quarter and the 92nd time a team got outscored by at least 28 points. Before Sunday, teams were 91-1 when they so badly beat a team in a quarter.

“You appreciate adversity,” Beverley said.

Lakers center Thomas Bryant reacts after scoring against the Portland Trail Blazers in the second half.

Lakers center Thomas Bryant (31 points, 14 rebounds) reacts after scoring against the Portland Trail Blazers in the second half. (Craig Mitchelldyer / Associated Press)

But James scored 16 points in the third quarter and Schröder had 14, and it became Portland’s time to make just six shots. The Lakers played with more energy and physicality, chipping away at Portland’s lead at the free-throw line, where they had 17 attempts in the third quarter.

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The Lakers moved back in front in the fourth, Bryant swishing a three-pointer to put them up 98-97 before they sprinted through the finish.

It’s the Lakers’ second straight win, with star Anthony Davis nearing a return from his foot injury.

On Saturday, he worked out with the team’s no- and low-minute players.

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“He got in with that group, went up and down with some contact and looked phenomenal. Again, we’re really being conservative and sticking to the plan,” Ham said before Sunday’s game. “…Yeah, it’s a huge step in the right direction.”

While the Lakers haven’t set a timeline for Davis’ return, it could happen this week in L.A., the team with some momentum after wins over Memphis and Portland.

“I don’t want to get too excited,” James said.

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Losing 10 of 12 games to start the season, the Lakers built themselves a major hole.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” Beverley said.

And now they’ve shown they can put together a comeback.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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