The Los Angeles Lakers bounced back from their playoff opener loss with a resounding 111-88 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2, evening up the series 1-1.
It was clear from the jump that the Lakers were looking to rectify their performance from the first game, playing with much more effort on both ends. This time around the Lakers exerted their dominance on the boards early, limiting the Blazers to one shot while earning extra possessions on the offensive end.
Anthony Davis showed why he is a superstar, dominating the paint area for 11 first-quarter points and helping limit Portland to only 19 points over that span. Davis finished the night with game-highs in points (31) and rebounds (11) to go along with a steal and block.
The purple and gold began to separate themselves in the second quarter as they continued to pound the restricted area for easy baskets, forcing the Trail Blazers to double in the post. This played into LeBron James’ hands as he was able to carve up the defense and find his teammates for quality looks.
Los Angeles then blew the game open in the third quarter, running out on missed shots for transition points and finally finding success from downtown. The Lakers raced out to a 30-point lead late in the third and resulted in an emptying of the benches midway through the fourth.
The game was encouraging for several reasons as the Lakers role players finally settled in. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope broke out of his bubble shooting slump as he went 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, while JR Smith chipped in with three triples of his own.
James had a surprisingly quiet night, recording 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds but only played 27 minutes due to the blowout. He was content with drawing in the defense on postups and drives and kicking the ball out to shooters, showing he still has trust in his teammates.
The Trail Blazers’ odds of making a run were diminished once Lillard went out after injuring his finger. He did not return to the game but has already said he will be playing in Game 3.
Next for Lakers
The Lakers and Trail Blazers both have a chance to get ahead in the series with Game 3 scheduled to tipoff on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. PT.
Lillard will be playing through a dislocated left index finger, but that does not mean Los Angeles can let up guarding him. It will take another defensive masterpiece for the Lakers to earn a win.
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