Blazers exploited Lakers shooting inefficiency and took the lead 1–0
Damian Lillard had 34 points (9–21 FG, 6–13 3PT, 10–10 FT, 5 REB, 5 AST, 1 BLK), Jusuf Nurkic added 16 points and 15 rebounds and the Portland Trail Blazers surprised the Los Angeles Lakers with a 100–93 victory on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the teams’ playoff series.
“Every game since we’ve been here has been a playoff game. So that prepared us for a game like this,” Lillard said. “It’s only one win. I’m happy to be here competing in the playoffs again, but we’ve got to move on to the next one.”
LeBron James had 23 points, 17 rebounds and 16 assists, becoming the first player to have as many points, rebounds and assists in the playoffs. It was his 24th postseason triple-double and his assists were a career playoff-high.
“We had a couple of breakdowns, which you can’t have down the stretch, especially against a team like Portland,” James said about the Blazers knocking down threes late in the game as the Lakers defense relaxed in the most critical sequence of the game.
Anthony Davis had 28 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, while sharpshooter Danny Green had 10 points and two rebounds struggling a lot offensively with his shot going 4-out of-12 from the field and 2-of-8 from the perimeter. Green has to be more consistent with his shot. He struggled with it in the bubble and did so last night.
Down the stretch Lakers allowed Blazers to make eight threes and build a 5-point lead 98–93 and with one minute left, Lakers tried to cover the gap by shooting multiple threes but not one of them went through the net.
Lakers took care of the ball very well but they didn’t shoot the ball well. They went 34-of-97 (35.1%) from the field and 5-of-32 from the perimeter which is just 15.6% which is very disappointing for a team with so much depth, with players who can be physical and push their way to the basket. They don’t have to take so many threes. Also when they go to the free-throw line they will have to make these shots — we saw Davis and James missing both their free-throws something that can’t occur in a playoff game as every point counts.
Frank Vogel addressed the team’s inefficiency from the three-point line and in the paint but liked the confidence that his players played with and hopes that next game coming on Thursday that their numbers will be better. Of course, Lakers acknowledge Blazers’ potential and they know that it’s a matter of shooting the ball better and nothing else. Blazers will be a challenge for them but they will have to read the game and by taking it possession to possession guarding in the perimeter and playing great on the switch will help them a lot.
“You’ve got to erase your memory. That’s part of being confident,” Kyle Kuzma said about the team’s approach toward shooting. “If you miss 10 in a row, or you make 10 in a row, you’ve got to forget about them and keep shooting them. I like to say, ‘Just shoot until you get hot,’ and I think we have that capability.”
Blazers showed us why they deserve to be in the playoffs this season. Lillard has been incredible since the restart — playing off the ball, knocking down threes, delivering the ball to the open shooter.
Lillard’s average of 7.7 points in the fourth quarter this season was tied for third with LeBron James during the regular season. But Lillard led the NBA in fourth-quarter offensive rating (minimum 40 games), averaging 121.4 points per 100 possessions. “I gotta rise to the occasion,” he said. “When it happens, I’m like, ‘I’m built for this moment.’ And a lot of that is because I ain’t scared to come up short. I think that’s a real big part of my success. I say what I really think, I say what I feel, and I say it knowing that I can deal with it not going my way and knowing that I stand on the real. I go into every battle with that type of mentality.”
Carmelo Anthony and CJ McCollum shot 11-of-31 from the field and 5-of-13 from the perimeter combined but did a really good job defensively against Lakers’ duo. They helped the Blazers to contain Lebron James and Anthony Davis and knocked down big-time shots in the fourth quarter that aided Portland to seal the victory.
Game 2 is on Thursday.
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