The Los Angeles Lakers were unable to earn their first win of the 2022-23 season on Sunday afternoon, losing to the Portland Trail Blazers 106-104.
Anthony Davis looked like himself to star despite the hard fall from last game, showing great activity on both ends to give the Lakers an early 6-0 lead. Jerami Grant led a 7-0 Portland run, but Russell Westbrook was able to snap it with a midrange bank shot to keep Los Angeles ahead by three.
Troy Brown Jr. made his 2022-23 season debut for the Lakers as one of the first subs of the game, but he and the team were unable to stop Damian Lillard from heating up as his first 3-pointer of the afternoon knotted things up at 16-16. Unfortunately, L.A.’s defense crumbled with Davis off the floor and they found themselves trailing 32-24 at the end of the first quarter.
The Lakers’ woes from beyond the arc persisted into the second, emphasized by a LeBron James logo attempt that drew nothing but air. The offense in general struggled to find much success, but thankfully the defense was able to force turnovers to keep the game within single digits.
Davis continued his strong play on both ends, defending the paint and scoring at the rim to make it a one-possession game. The Laker offense generated numerous good looks that just didn’t go down, and the Purple and Gold were fortunate to go into halftime only trailing 55-48.
Westbrook couldn’t get anything to go down to begin the third quarter with misses at the rim and from the perimeter, but a Patrick Beverley 3-pointer capped a quick 7-0 run to tie the game at 59. L.A.’s defense kept forcing Portland into turnovers, though the latter eventually took back the lead midway through the period.
Davis got the Crypto.com Arena rocking with a putback dunk over Drew Eubanks, and he flushed a lob from Kendrick Nunn to tie things up 74 apiece. Davis completely took the game over on both ends, and back-to-back threes from James gave the Lakers an 83-78 lead going into the final quarter.
Portland rattled off a 6-0 spurt to begin the fourth, but James found Juan Toscano-Anderson for a bucket to prevent any more damage. The defensive intensity kicked up another level with Beverley and Davis making plays to stifle the Blazer offense.
Los Angeles took advantage of their front court size, scoring nearly at will in the paint to create some separation down the stretch. It was a wild finish to regulation with Lillard draining a three to give the Blazers a two-point lead, and James immediately answering with an uncontested dunk to tie things back up. However, Jerami Grant managed to hit a layup on the Trail Blazers’ final possession and the Lakers took home a difficult loss after James missed as time expired.
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