The Los Angeles Lakers honored the memory of franchise legend Kobe Bryant in style, chalking up a blowout 135-115 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 4 of their first-round series. L.A. truly channeled Bryant’s Mamba Mentality, pulling off their best performance to date in the Orlando bubble to take a 3-1 series lead.
The showdown was filled with subplots and references to Bryant, who tragically died in a helicopter crash in January alongside his daughter Gianna and seven other individuals. Game 4 took place on Aug. 24, a date representing the great Laker’s jersey numbers — 8 and 24 — he wore during his illustrious 20-year NBA career.
It had also been officially declared as Kobe Bryant Day by Orange County and the city of Los Angeles.
Besides, L.A. took a 24-8 lead over Portland eight minutes into the first quarter, with the picture of the scoreboard showing the score going viral on social media. Following the symbolic game, LeBron James said he felt Bryant’s presence in the arena.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel did not take note of the symbolic score at the time, but he pointed out his team avenged the loss to Portland in the first game after Bryant’s death.
The Blazers beat the shook L.A. 127-119 at Staples Center on Jan. 31, five days after the accident. “We lost that game, and I think our guys probably carried a little more importance from that,” Vogel said.
“The emotional aspect did feel different than any other game we’ve played since we’ve been in the bubble. To have a game on 8/24, Kobe Bryant Day, I think all of us in our whole organization, but in particular our players, felt that and carried that emotion onto the court.”
Lakers All-Star Anthony Davis confirmed the team did come out extra motivated for Game 4, hoping to take revenge on Portland for the January loss. “We were able to win this on a very emotional and special night for us, wearing the Kobe jerseys,” he said.
“Realizing that the first time we played after the tragedy, it was also against Portland and they were able to take that one from us at home.”
Davis ‘fine’ for Game 5 despite back spasms
Davis recorded another impressive night on Monday, scoring 18 points in as many minutes while putting in an immense effort on the defensive end. The Lakers outscored the Blazers by 37 points with the forward on the floor.
However, Davis’ performance was cut short after he suffered back spasms in the third quarter. But he has revealed he was only pulled by the medical staff as a precaution. “Back is doing fine. I’ll be fine,” he said after the game.
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