The Los Angeles Lakers ended their three-game road trip with a bang as they were able to come away with a 136-113 blowout win against the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Lakers looked like they might be in a shootout throughout the game as the defense was non-existent in the first quarter. Both teams managed to put up over 30 points, but Los Angeles tightened the screws on defense and pulled away for good thanks to a 15-0 run at the beginning of the second quarter.
Portland had absolutely no chance of defending Anthony Davis and LeBron James with their depleted frontcourt as the All-Star duo had their way offensively for the entirety of the game. Davis and James combined for 70 points on 23-of-44 shooting, routinely hitting jumpers or scoring over their undersized defenders in the paint.
In his walk-off interview, James discussed how the dynamic between he and Davis affects the rest of the roster, via Spectrum SportsNet:
It’s just the respect and understanding between the two of us. We hold each other accountable every game and when it starts with us, it trickles down to everybody else on the team, so we all buy in. Once our teammates see how we sacrifice for the team, how much we buy in to what Coach Vogel and the coaching staff want to do, and how much we hold each other accountable, everything trickles down to the rest of the guys.
Most All-Star players often take time to build chemistry on the floor and play cohesively, but Davis and James seem to have a natural connection that manifested earlier than expected. Their play on the floor and team-first attitude has clearly gotten through to the rest of the team as they have already adapted to playing off them and settled into their roles.
It was clear early on that Davis and James would be a natural one-two punch given their skillsets, but it is fair to say that no one could have expected a 20-3 start to the 2019-20 NBA season. The Lakers have already embraced their defensive identity while their offense has picked up in recent weeks, but there is still clearly room for improvement in certain areas that can lift this team from championship contender to championship favorite.
For now, the purple and gold will enjoy sweeping a difficult road trip before getting ready to play a feisty Minnesota Timberwolves team led by Karl-Anthony Towns.