Lack of shots and missed free throws down the stretch cost the Los Angeles Lakers Game 1 in their first-round series against the Portland Trailblazers. The Lakers’ inconsistent shooting problems were a concern going into Game 2, but the Lakers came out in attack mode after the dismal performance of the last game. It was disappointing how they played offense considering how well they played defense, as it was the first time in 37 games that the Blazers kept a team below 100 points.
The superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis knew they had to start fast and maintain momentum, and that’s exactly what they did. Davis got off to a good start scoring 11 of his 31 points in the first quarter while showing off his phenomenal offensive skills and dominating on both ends of the court as seen when Davis made an emphatic block on a layup attempt by Damian Lillard to the right. before halftime.
James prevailed playing with a lot of energy and effort as he was determined not to give up the enormous advantage they had. James only finished with 10 points, but he remained effective with 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals after his historic triple-double in Game 1 recording 23 points to accompany 17 rebounds and 16 assists.
The Lakers shot 5-32 on 3-point attempts in Game 1, while they also played terrible defense in transition, but adjusted and improved and played much better basketball in Game 2 while shooting 36.8% from center and 90% from the charity line.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope recovered very well after going 0-9 in the first game, as he finished Game 2 with 16 points and shot 4-6 from the center, making a huge difference in the outcome of the game. If Caldwell-Pope can continue to play so efficiently on a daily basis, he has a chance to become the third scoring option the Lakers desperately need to take the pressure off James and Davis.
The Lakers’ front court also did a great job controlling the boards as they rebounded the Blazers 50-41. They also cleaned up offensive rebounds with a total of 14 of them, giving the offense a chance to score a second chance. JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard and Davis raised issues with their size, length and agility as they made it difficult for the Blazers to score on the point. The Lakers lead by 17 at the half and lead by double digits from the second quarter. The biggest advantage was 33 points as the Blazers struggled offensively.
The Blazers fought from three-point range, shooting just 27.6% from behind the arc, while Damian Lillard fired an unusual 1-7 from deep. According to ESPN, Lillard doubled in 8 plays, scoring just 4 points on 17% from the field. The Blazers also struggled to get to the free throw line, firing only 11 attempts while attempting 33 in Game 1. Give credit to Frank Vogel and the Lakers coaching staff for devising the strategy to neutralize and stop Lillard. At the end of the third quarter, Lillard suffered a dislocated left index finger and was out for the rest of the game. X-rays came back negative and he should be ready for Game 3 on Saturday.
This was the Lakers’ first playoff victory since 2012. Also note that LeBron James has never lost a first-round playoff series in his entire career, but these Blazers may have a say in that regard, as this series has the potential to reach 7 games.