The Los Angeles Lakers took the emotion from playing on Kobe Bryant Day and wearing his Black Mamba City Edition jersey into an utterly dominant performance over the Portland Trail Blazers, taking a commanding 3-1 series lead with a 135-115 win that wasn’t competitive much of the night.
Although their offense had been prone to slow starts during the NBA restart and at times in the Playoffs, the Lakers opened Game 4 with a 15-0 run. Their focus and intensity matched the spirit Bryant played with throughout his career, and was what Lakers head coach Frank Vogel hoped the team would have.
“First, we want to have positive emotions. We want to have this be a day to celebrate his life and carry that type of emotion into the game,” Vogel said before the game.
“We’ve always wanted to embody what he stood for. We all know he would want us to keep our foot on the gas even though we’ve won two in a row, and that’s how we’re going to try to approach this game.”
LeBron James and Anthony Davis were in an early rhythm, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Danny Green broke out of their respective slumps to help the Lakers take a 24-8 lead in the first quarter. The score of course was a fitting ode to Bryant.
The Lakers put up 43 points in the first quarter and another 37 in the second to take an 80-51 lead into halftime. James was absolutely prolific in the second quarter, scoring 14 of his 22 first-half points.
L.A. went on a 10-2 run to start the third quarter, punctuated by James draining a 36-foot 3-pointer that prompted Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts to call a timeout. Portland responded with a 24-9 spurt, but the Lakers still maintained nearly a 30-point lead into the fourth.
The cushion allowed James to sit the entire fourth quarter, and he finished with 30 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists, all the while shooting 83% from the field in a mere 28 minutes.
Davis, Lillard injured
If there was a reason for the Lakers to have some concern, Davis was ruled out in the third quarter due to back spasms. He had 18 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in 18 minutes. Davis remained with the team on the bench while wearing an electric stimulation machine.
Also in the third quarter, Blazers star Damian Lillard suffered an unspecified right knee injury. He initially attempted to play through it before asking out for good. Lillard already was playing through a fractured finger on his left hand.
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