The Los Angeles Lakers claimed a fairly smooth series victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs despite suffering a disappointing loss in Game 1. L.A. shrugged off the defeat and went on to have dominant performances fueled by their superb defense, effectively constraining Portland’s explosive offense.
But Lakers starters — Anthony Davis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in particular — did not hide their anguish after falling to the Blazers in the opening game of the series. Davis had to seek guidance from LeBron James following his bland Game 1 performance.
Meanwhile, Caldwell-Pope revealed he needed some mindfulness exercises to find bliss before before Game 2 after ending the opener with just one point, shooting 0-of-9 from the field.
But both Lakers and the entire team bounced back strong, proving yet again L.A. were right to preach the virtue of patience despite suffering from a form slump early in the NBA restart.
And in the conversation with GQ’s Michael Pina, Jared Dudley explained the Lakers were never in doubt that they would put their struggles behind them and come out of the series victorious:
“No, because if you saw what happened we had so many wide open shots that we missed. It wasn’t like they had good defense. We were wide open. We shot bad from the field, three-point line, and free-throw line. They shot a crazy amount of free throws and we still had a chance to win. That’s not happening four times. We’re not shooting that bad again. Plus, their depth — their minutes were so high. For us it was, let’s just take away the easy threes, the fouls off three pointers, and make these role players have to make shots, and they’re not gonna make enough twos to beat us. And that’s what ended up happening. So there was no panic. It was about being more disciplined with what we had to do. Everyone was cool, calm, collected. Nobody was losing sleep. We knew what had to be done.”
L.A. could receive another boost ahead of their Western Conference Semifinals clash against either the Houston Rockets or the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has revealed Rajon Rondo has returned to practice and could make his return in the second round of the NBA Playoffs.
Lakers reportedly considered Lillard trade before landing Davis
Ahead of the first-round series, the Lakers were aware Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard was the one to fear after his strenuous effort in the seeding games lifted Portland to secure the No. 8 seed in the West.
But interestingly, the bubble MVP could have played for the other side in the matchup, as L.A. reportedly considered a play for Lillard before acquiring Anthony Davis last year.
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