The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers behind a much-improved shooting performance in Game 2 to tie the first-round playoff series. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led L.A. with four 3s, and Anthony Davis and was also among those to connect from deep.
The Lakers finished the night 14-for-38 behind the arc in arguably their best performance so far in the Orlando bubble. They have been dangerous around the rim on both ends of the court during the NBA restart, but shooting often proved challenging.
In the a loss to the Houston Rockets during seeding play, L.A. made only two 3s on 11% from downtown. While L.A. needs to pose a threat from distance if they are to compete for the title, their presence in the paint is a lethal weapon.
Head coach Frank Vogel thinks it also is crucial for the Lakers to create more open looks on the perimeter, especially having 16-time All-Star James on the roster.
“We have arguably the greatest drive-and-kick player in the history of the game in LeBron James,” Vogel said. “This is a drive-and-kick league, so for our whole group we encourage touching the paint and looking for weakside shooters.”
Vogel credited Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown for incorporating the scheme into his playbook after observing the team during his sabbatical. Brown coined the term “paint-to-great” to name the concept, a twist on San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s “pass-to-great.”
And the Lakers coach thinks that style of offense will allow them to remain dangerous from behind the arc, especially as they are still embracing the concept. “When we play that way we typically generate high-quality 3s,” he said.
“We did it in the first game but didn’t knock them down. We knocked them down at a higher clip [in Game 2] but we still had plenty of looks that we didn’t knockdown. I still think our potential of the damage we can do with that concept hasn’t reached where hopefully it’s going to be in the playoffs.”
Caldwell-Pope approached Game 2 with clear mind
Caldwell-Pope inspired the Lakers with his sharp shooting in the victory over Portland, bouncing back from a poor 0-for-9 in his disappointing Game 1 performance.
The guard said he was aware of how terrible his shooting was in the series opener, but came out determined for Game 2 to prove he can help L.A. from deep. “I just tried to forget about that and not carry it into Game 2,” Caldwell-Pope said.
“Have my mind clear and ready to play, knock down shots when I’m open. I’m a shooter, and shooters shoot. I just came with the mindset I was going to knock down shots.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!