The LA Lakers didn’t get their playoff return started on the right foot on Tuesday night, falling to the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1. It’s a loss that has generated more concerns around LA’s title chances. However, it was a game that also featured star LeBron James continuing to show that he’s an ageless wonder behind a historical performance.
Lakers drop playoff opener to Trail Blazers
In the Lakers’ first playoff game in seven years, the team didn’t get the result they hoped to garner.
It was a sluggish all-around performance that began with a sloppy offensive start by falling behind 16 points in the first quarter. LA bounce back to close the game in the second period, leading to a one-deficit at the half. Things remained close throughout the final two quarters of play that saw the Lakers take a six-point lead in the fourth quarter.
However, Portland guided by their star backcourt with Damian Lillard dropping 34 points and McCollum chipping in 21 points helped Portland edge out a 100-93 win. LA continued their shooting struggles that have arisen since the restart in Orlando began as they shot 35.1% from the floor and 15.6% from 3-point range that saw them make only five 3-pointers.
It was a tough loss for the Lakers to swallow that has given the Trail Blazers the early leg up in the series. Portland has remained hot as one of the league’s top teams in the Orlando Bubble. However, it was a game that also featured LeBron James achieving something that has never been accomplished.
LeBron James sets NBA playoff record
The Lakers suffered a difficult loss in their playoff opener against the Trail Blazers, but it did see LeBron James turn it up a notch.
James has proven to be a much more significant factor when it comes to playoff basketball. That was the case in Tuesday’s game as he turned in a triple-double performance with 23 points, 17 rebounds, and a playoff-career high 16 assists. James tallied up the triple-double by the third quarter and finished with the first-ever game postseason performance with at least 20 points, 15 assists, and 15 rebounds.
The 35-year-old has continued to show that he’s still arguably the league’s best player in his 17th season. James displayed his tremendous court vision and ability to impact the game beyond his scoring as he nearly helped guide LA to a Game 1 win despite their shooting woes. His play was one of the bright spots from the contest as he has gone into “Playoff LeBron” mode.
However, the task shifts over to the Lakers needing a strong bounce-back outing on Thursday night.
Chance to bounce back in Game 2
Heading into the first-round playoff series against the Trail Blazers, there was already some doubt that the Lakers would have their hands full.
The Game 1 loss has cemented those concerns that LA may not be a championship-contending team. There are those, such as Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, that believe the Lakers could be bounced out of the playoffs in the first round. It may be only one game, but now the pressure is on LeBron James and his team to avoid an 0-2 deficit to begin the series.
Anthony Davis was a huge offensive factor in Game 1, posting a double-double with 28 points and 11 rebounds, but he struggled shooting 8-of-24 from the floor, including 2-of-15 outside the restricted area. Meanwhile, LA needs its role players to step up as Danny Green continued his shooting woes as he was 2-of-8 from beyond the arc. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed all nine shot attempts from the floor and registered one point in the loss.
Ultimately, the Lakers know what the task is in front of them in what may be the most pivotal game in the first-round series on Thursday night.