Published November 01, 2012
| Sports Network
Portland, OR – Dwight Howard fared much better in his second game with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Most of his teammates, however, didn't.
Nicolas Batum had 26 points and six rebounds and sixth overall pick Damian Lillard registered 23 points and 11 assists in the Portland Trail Blazers' 116-106 thumping of Los Angeles.
The Weber State product, Lillard, was second in the nation in scoring at 24.5 points per game last season and was a co-MVP of the Summer League.
"People probably didn't expect us to come out and beat that type of team, but we've been competing very hard in practice, and we did that same thing tonight," Lillard said.
Wesley Matthews added 22 points for the Blazers, who suffered three consecutive first-round playoff losses before failing to qualify for the postseason last year.
Portland's lack of success led to wholesale changes during the offseason.
Nate McMillan was fired as head coach and replaced by Terry Stotts, who spent the last four years as an assistant on the Dallas Mavericks' coaching staff. Neil Olshey came over from the Los Angeles Clippers to run the Blazers' front office.
The Blazers turned 25 turnovers into 28 points.
After missing on 11 of his 14 free-throw attempts on Tuesday in the Lakers' opener, Howard nailed 15-of-19 from the charity stripe and tallied a game-high 33 points and 14 rebounds.
Kobe Bryant added 30 points and six boards, but committed seven turnovers for Los Angeles, which has started the year 0-2 following an 0-8 preseason.
"The morale is fine, but nobody wants to lose," Lakers head coach Mike Brown said. "We've just got to focus on what it will take for us to get a win. That's defense, first, and then, obviously, we've got to take care of the basketball."
Steve Nash left the game with a left leg injury in the third and did not return.
Nash initially departed near the end of the first half after colliding with Lillard. He limped off the court and was helped to the locker room. Nash returned after the break before leaving again 1:16 into the third with the injury. He finished with two points and four assists in the loss.
The Blazers closed the third on a 13-0 run and turned a three-point lead into a healthy 16-point cushion heading into the final frame.
Lillard began the burst with a dunk before Sasha Pavlovic poured in seven straight points. Lillard then hit a pair of free throws before he drove down the lane and banked in an off-balanced, wrong-footed floater just before the buzzer, which gave the hosts a 92-76 advantage.
The lead swelled to as many as 19, 102-83, following Matthews' 3-pointer from the right wing early in fourth.
Los Angeles slowly chipped away at the deficit, but didn't cut it into single digits until there was 1:03 on the clock following Metta World Peace's transition dunk.
Earlier, LaMarcus Aldridge netted 12 of his 19 points in the opening 12 minutes as Portland took a 30-26 edge into the second.
Howard made all six of his free-throw attempts in the second, after knocking down 5-of-8 from the stripe in the first, but Los Angeles trailed at the break, 62-57.
Portland went 28-38 last season ... Portland has won four consecutive season openers ... The Blazers shot 50.6 percent (42-of-83) from the floor, while Los Angeles finished 50 percent (36-of-72) from the field.