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Trail Blazers still in playoff hunt as they head to L.A.

LOS ANGELES -- The last time Damian Lilliard and the Portland Trail Blazers played the Lakers at Staples Center, Los Angeles guard D'Angelo Russell made a game-changing tactical error.

Russell will probably try to avoid repeating his mistake when the two teams meet again at Staples on Sunday night.

Russell drew the ire of Lillard after the two had a verbal exchange in the third quarter, resulting in technical fouls on both players. Lillard had endured an awful first half, missing nine of 10 shots and scoring only two points.

"I'm from Oakland, and I ain't with that extra stuff," Lilliard said after the Trail Blazers cruised to a 108-87 victory during that Jan. 10 encounter. "Nobody can just do what they want with me. After he blocked my shot, I was walking to my spot, I felt like he went out of his way to get that elbow in there. I told him, 'Hey man, that ain't going to fly.' I wasn't interested in anything else that was said after that. He poked the bear."

Although Russell downplayed the incident afterward, Lillard clearly was inspired. CJ McCollum scored 25 points to lead Portland, but Lillard delivered 18 of his 20 points in the second half, 11 of those in the third quarter, as the Trail Blazers rolled. Lillard also had eight rebounds and six assists.

The Trail Blazers (34-38) have won 11 in a row over Los Angeles, including six straight on the Lakers' home floor. On Saturday, the Trail Blazers pulled within a game of the Denver Nuggets, who currently hold the eighth seed in the Western Conference, after earning a 112-100 victory over the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves.

McCollum scored 32 points on 11-of-13 shooting, making 4 of 5 3-pointers, and Lillard contributed 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds in three quarters against the Timberwolves. It allowed the Blazers to improve to 10-3 in March. Lillard is averaging 31.1 points in 15 games since the All-Star break.

Portland made a season-high 62.5 percent from the floor, connecting on 45 of 72 attempts. The Blazers were 11 of 22 (50 percent) from 3-point range.

"We executed with good pace," Lillard said. "We sprinted into screens. We came in knowing their bigs would stay back (on pick-and-rolls) and we would have open jumpers. Those are high-percentage shots."

The Lakers ended a drought by snapping a six-game losing streak Friday with a 130-119 overtime win over the Timberwolves. Jordan Clarkson recorded career highs with 35 points and eight 3-pointers as Los Angeles rallied from a 15-point deficit to prevail.

It was only the second win in the past 16 games for the Lakers (21-51), who have the worst mark in the conference. With Hall of Famer and former Laker Shaquille O'Neal sitting courtside after having his statue unveiled earlier in the day, the Lakers channeled much of the energy from the occasion and festive crowd to celebrate a rare victory.

"It was a lot of fun," said Lakers forward Julius Randle, who scored 23 points. "Anytime you win and make winning plays, playing for each other is fun."

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