Blazers lose to Lebron’s Lakers at home 114-110.
The Blazers, previously winning their opening night against the Lakers with a win, were scheduled to face them again at home.
Prior to tonights matchup, Portland had momentum following a win against an Anthony Davis-less Pelicans and the end of road trip where they won 3 of 4 games. Alternatively for the Lakers, they have had a very slow start of 3 and 5 for the season – the game being a must win for the Lakers with coach Luke Walton under the hot seat, and a tough back-to-back opponent in Toronto.
The Lakers started slow with numerous turnovers, with Portland’s starters shooting efficiently and defending well. Lillard started shooting more aggressively early, an approach previously refrained from while opening games, as early he likes to drive and dish to provide honesty in the defence.
Following a Lillard assisted 3 point make from Mcollum and a defensive block by Nurkic on Ingram, the Blazers made a 11-3 run before the bench came on. After that, the bench provided numerous turnovers, allowing the Lakers to reduce the damage to 1 before the end of the first quarter.
The Lakers came out firing in the third quarter, outscoring the Blazers 32-16, showing that an Evan Turner led second unit will only goes as far as the 3 point shooting of Stauskas, Curry and Collins (to some extent) will take it.
Late in the third, Rondo found Hart for a transition three, compelling Stotts to call a timeout – the Lakers finding their groove with Lebron expressing excitement.
The dreadful play of the Portland bench continued into the 4th quarter, where the Lakers expanded the lead to 20, before Coach Terry Stotts called a timeout to unload to starters. Portland extraordinarily came back in the 4th quarter by the scoring of both McCullom and Lillard.
The Blazers got right back into the game with again efficient clutch shooting from McCullom and Lillard. A late blunder from the referees allowed for a McGee goal tend on a Lillard dunk, which wasn’t reviewed despite the game stopping after a scuffle with Nurkic and Hart, the latter receiving a technical foul for a swinging elbow. Despite a valiant comeback, it was not enough to hold out the Lakers, who earned their third win.
Amino = Lebron stopper?
Andre Iguolala was the primary defender of Lebron James in the 2014/15 NBA Finals, which ultimately led to him being awarded with the finals MVP. Lebron averaged an outstanding 35.8 points in the series. Whilst I will submit, Amino is not the same calibre defender as Iggy, he continues to prove that he is one of the most overlooked defenders in the league.
Tonight, he was all over Lebron, showing wherever Lebron was, he was too. Amino provided a vicious block on Lenron and a steal – perhaps an example of a free-agency-looming player fighting for their next contract?
Damain Lillard continuing an early plea for MVP consideration. It seemed Dame and CJ for that matter were everywhere for the Blazers tonight, and with the 3 point shots not falling, both finding creative ways of finessing buckets under the rim and in the mid-range.
The Portland’s bench has been an exciting revelation so far this season, and has often either aided comebacks or retained leads, however, did not provide that spark tonight. Before tonight the bench was averaging 54 points, but was outscored by the Lakers bench. Seth Curry had a night to forget in front of older brother Steph, shooting 0/5 from the field.
Not only did the bench have a poor shooting night, but they failed to do what they started the season doing so well, that being, having great ball movement and not settling for inefficient shots.
Too many times Evan Turner prompted a switch to allow Collins a mismatch on Hart (and others), however did not feed him the ball quick enough. Turner almost looked at Collins stagnantly, before throwing him a lob with limited time on the shot clock to either make a play for his teammate or get a good shot off.
3 Point Shots
A dreadful night for the Blazers, only shooting 17% from outside the arc, a drastic change from their previous game against the Pelicans, where they shot 51% from deep.
Portland had 14 turnovers.
The game whilst not being played at the same tempo as opening night, soon also became a turnover fest shortly after tipoff.
Whilst I’ll submit I’m glad Lebron didn’t have an amazing game against the Blazers, I however realise that since the game 1 loss against Golden State in June, which JR Smith infamously did not have the awareness to know the score in the dying seconds, he has played with a certain passiveness.
Now I am not saying he hasn’t being playing well, because he is averaging 27/8/9 – but, he is one of the only players in the NBA, and the world for a matter of fact, who can use his strength, power and speed to get easy buckets, but when it comes to crunch time, he takes a back seat.
There’s no reason why the other, inexperienced and youthful core of the Lakers need to be the ones making plays in crunch time, and if the Lakers are serious about making a play for the playoffs, or even to the Western Conference finals, he needs to start playing with some intensity, so as to not let trailing teams make pushes in the last quarter.
Nurkic continuing to get into early foul trouble.
Nurkic has also twice now struggled to play against above the rim, athletic, and defensively present big men. McGee completely outclassed Nurkic on the defensive end, McGee having 6 blocks to Nurkic’s 2.
Nurkic also shot 4 from 6 free throws, which whilst doesn’t look terrible, both misses came in crunch time where Blazers were making a late push to contest for the game.
Damian Lillard scored 30 points off 10/23 shooting, with 4 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals.
CJ McCollum scared 30 points of 13/24 shooting, with 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 turnovers.
Lebron James scored 28 points off 9/20 shooting, with 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 blocks and 3 turnovers.
Rajon Rondo scored 17 points off 8/10 shooting, with 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.