The Los Angeles Lakers ended their six-year playoff drought in demonstrative fashion, going 52-19 during the 2019-20 season and clinching the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
The Lakers are set to take on the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs, with Game 1 scheduled for Tuesday night. The matchup inside the Orlando bubble was finalized once the Blazers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies in the league’s first ever play-in tournament.
Los Angeles and Portland met three times during the regular season, with the Lakers taking two out of three of those games. Ahead of their first round matchup, here is how the purple and gold fared in those games.
Dec. 6: Lakers 136, Trail Blazers 113
The first match up between these two teams highlighted the dominance of LeBron James and Anthony Davis as the two superstars combined for 70 points on 23-of-44 shooting from the field.
It was a high-scoring first quarter as the Lakers poured in 39 points to the Blazers’ 34. However, Los Angeles pulled away in the second after dropping another 38 points, shredding Portland’s defense in the process.
The third quarter featured more scoring binges from both teams, but the Lakers put together a solid defensive showing in the fourth by holding the Blazers to only 20 points. Damian Lillard scored 29 points on the night, but he and the rest of the team could not keep pace with James and Davis.
Dec. 28: Lakers 128, Trail Blazers 120
The two teams did not have to wait long for their rematch as the Lakers headed back to the Moda Center, where they claimed their second consecutive victory over the Blazers in a much closer contest.
The game featured a breakout from Kyle Kuzma and the bench as the young forward scored 24 of the reserves’ 72 points. Meanwhile, James recorded a 21-point, 16-assist double-double.
It was close throughout the first half, with Lillard and company scoring neck and neck with Los Angeles. The Lakers responded with a 37-point outburst in the second to walk into halftime with a seven-point lead.
That lead served as some cushion for Los Angeles as Portland kept the game close in the second half. Hassan Whiteside provided a boost for the Blazers as he was a menace on the glass and found himself open for easy dunks.
The fourth was hotly contested with each team trading baskets throughout the period, but the Lakers ultimately walked away with the win.
Jan. 31: Trail Blazers 127, Lakers 119
The third and final matchup between the two teams was an emotional one as it was the Lakers first game since the tragic death of Kobe Bryant.
As was expected, Los Angeles came out of the gate slow as they appeared to be going through the motions. The crowd was also eerily silent, clearly still reeling from Bryant’s accident.
The first quarter from a scoring standpoint mirrored the series as the Blazers came away with a 38-36 lead. The second was a better showing for Los Angeles as they managed to make a couple of plays on both ends to go into the half up 62-60.
However, Lillard erupted in the second half, scoring 23 points in the third quarter. The All-Star point guard finished the night with 48 points on 17-of-30 shooting, but it was a game that was more about life than it was about basketball.
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