The Los Angeles Lakers overcame a slow start and subpar free throw shooting for a 116-108 win over Portland Trail Blazers in Game 3, taking a 2-1 series lead. LeBron James led all players with 38 points, and Anthony Davis had 29 to go along with 8 assists.
Despite dislocating his left index finger in Game 2, Damian Lillard was able to knock down two early 3s to help the Trail Blazers jump out to a 10-3 lead. The Lakers responded by attacking the paint and getting to the free throw line, but their struggles from the charity stripe prevented them from closing the gap.
Portland remained sharp offensively, executing in the halfcourt while Los Angeles stalled out after James went to the bench. However, the Lakers’ defense picked up toward the end of the quarter and they went into the second only down 29-25.
James was aggressive to start the period, driving to the lane for an and-1 and draining a deep 3 but CJ McCollum was able to answer with his own personal scoring run. Los Angeles remained physical, getting into the bonus midway but still had trouble converting.
Carmelo Anthony provided an unsuspected defensive lift for the Blazers, doing a good job of limiting Davis and allowing Portland to maintain their lead. Although James bullied his way to the rack on several occasions, missed free throws prevented them from claiming the momentum and they went into the half down 57-53.
The Lakers appeared much sharper coming out of the locker room, finding much more success moving the ball and hitting open looks from beyond the arc to take the lead. However, Anthony once again gave the Blazers a spark, this time offensively as he hit a flurry of jumpers to get them back in it.
Davis finally came alive, muscling his way in the paint for a pair of dunks and dishing out to open teammates to help the purple and gold create some separation. Lillard drained a 3 in the final minute, but Los Angeles went into the fourth with a 93-86 lead.
Jusuf Nurkic seemed to get going a bit to to begin the final quarter as he got loose for two dunks that prompted a Lakers timeout. Dwight Howard responded with a pair of dunks of his own, including a nice dish from Alex Caruso.
Davis began to take over with James on the bench, nailing three straight jumpers out of a pick-and-roll action with Caruso. Portland continued to battle to keep it close until a Davis putback dunk and James driving layup essentially iced it.
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