It didn’t start out great for the Lakers. Portland (in their shiny PDX carpet City Edition jerseys!) led early, 17-6, and it looked bleak then. Then the Lakers got aggressive as they drew fouls and played tighter defense to counter the Blazers with 11 straight points.
The second quarter was quite exciting as the Lakers and Blazers matched each other bucket for bucket. Their trading of baskets included this thunderous jam from King LeBron Raymone James the first.
That half ended with a thrilling Russell Westbrook buzzer-beating three. More on Russ later. But Lakers scored 42 in the second quarter while Portland scored 40. Lot of scoring going on there.
We know the third quarter has been hell all season for the Lakers. But not tonight. L.A. was able to get many stops and sink multiple three-pointers in a 15-2 run. Thankfully for the Lakers and their fans, the Blazers never threatened again. Of course, everyone still watched with baited breath on whether the Lakers were going to choke on their dinner but there was always a counter whenever Portland scored a bucket.
One of those countershots? Russell Westbrook making another shot to beat the horn at the end of the third. This time, from halfcourt…
That’s right. Russell Westbrook: buzzer-beater specialist.
In the fourth quarter, to make sure that Portland would never rally, the Lakers made a concerted effort to get Anthony Davis the ball. He scored 14 points in the fourth to close the game out. The Lakers pretty much took over the second half and it was good to see that for once.
Lonnie Walker IV and Troy Brown, Jr. were late scratches. Patrick Beverley did come back from his three-game suspension and ended up starting along with Dennis Schröder and Austin Reaves. Still, LeBron James carried the bulk of the offense for most of the game. He ended with 31 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists and was a fiery 6 for 8 (.750!) from three-point land. Anthony Davis had his 8th straight double-double with 27 points and 12 rebounds.
Reaves was dazzling in his performance, scoring 22 points in a variety of moves (or was in his bag, like the kids say these days). Thomas Bryant came off the bench and provided a boost with 14 points and 6 boards.
The Blazers also had a late scratch in Josh Hart (in addition to already not having Damian Lillard and Gary Payton II) and started second-year player Trendon Watford instead. He finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Jerami Grant led the Blazers with 27 points. Anfernee Simons had 22 and Justise Winslow went for 21 points.
Rookie Shaedon Sharpe had 16 points and one of the best dunks of the year:
I wish I could dunk like that. Heck, I wish I was a little bit taller.
Lakers played a clean brand of basketball, only turning the ball over 7 times the entire game. They even shot well behind the arc at 14 for 37 (.378). L.A. outrebounded the Blazers by three (remember that they were -12 in their first match-up). But what really stood out was the second chance points; Lakers had a 26-11 advantage.
It’s really one of their better games this season. Portland looked outmatched and uncomfortable in the second half and that’s what the Lakers need to do with their duo of stars and improving role players.
The Lakers are now 8-12 and will now hit the road for 6 games in the East. This trip may make or break the season. And it’s going to be a tough test immediately as they take on the Milwaukee Bucks.
But for now, they’re going to enjoy this win.