The gloves came off Thursday night as the LeBron James era officially began for the Los Angeles Lakers, though the end result was a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. The victory extended Portland’s winning streak in home season openers to an NBA record 18 games.
James and the Lakers fared well early, jumping out to a 25-15 lead in the first quarter. James ignited his teammates with thunderous slam dunks on back-to-back possessions and went on to finish with team highs in points (26) and rebounds (12).
He added six assists, which was tied with Evan Turner for second-highest on the night. The loss was James’ fourth in as many games when debuting with a new team. The 26 points were his second-highest total in those contests.
James’ first game with the Lakers had the predictable highs and lows. Following the loss, he detailed areas he was pleased with and those the team needs to improve on, as seen on Spectrum SportsNet:
“We had some good and we had some bad, which is as expected for Game 1. I liked our fight to get back into the game when we were down double-digits, I like the way we competed at times, I liked the way we shared the ball at times as well. Some things we can do better: we can rebound a lot better. We had some turnovers, which I expected; us just trying to get a feel for one another in our first regular-season game together.”
The Lakers turned the ball over 15 times, compared to 17 for the Trail Blazers. But their two most prominent question marks — rebounding and shooting — immediately proved to be reasonable concerns.
The Trail Blazers only held a slight rebounding edge at 40-38, but did pull down 14 offensive rebounds to the Lakers’ eight. And when it came to shooting from deep, L.A. was just 7-for-30. They missed their first 15 3-pointers before Brandon Ingram connected late in the second quarter.
Of course, through the struggles, James again stressed the importance of patience and understanding of the team needing time to develop chemistry and iron out the wrinkles.
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