Much like during seeding games, the Los Angeles Lakers were plagued by a slow start and subpar shooting, which cost them in a 100-93 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1. LeBron James registered a 24th career triple-double in the playoffs. He joined Magic Johnson as the only players with a triple-double in their Lakers playoff debut.
The Trail Blazers opened the game with early energy, taking a 7-2 lead. Although the Lakers collectively had voiced confidence in their shooting, Danny Green missed his first three attempts behind the arc and the team failed to knock down any of their eight 3-pointers.
Damian Lillard quietly began to put together another strong showing on offense, and Portland led 36-25 after the first quarter. They maintained that lead but saw it shrink as the Lakers ripped off a 13-1 run.
Anthony Davis struggled from the field but got to the free throw line with plenty of frequency. Dwight Howard also provided L.A. with a boost of energy, fighting through frustration and a bevy of whistles, one of which was a double technical.
The Lakers didn’t take their first lead of the game until a Davis dunk put them ahead 50-49 with 3 minutes left in the first half. Davis scored 11 of the Lakers’ 13 points in the second quarter, but the faced a 57-56 deficit at halftime. Lillard led all players with 23 points.
Portland opened the third quarter with an 11-4 run, which was slowed by Green connecting on his second 3-pointer of the game. It took the Lakers four minutes and while their offense still failed to sustain any momentum, quality defense kept the game close.
Much of that was a testament to Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who alternated turns picking up Lillard the length of the court.
Kuzma’s 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter tied the game, but it remained ragged on offense for both teams. James turned a jump ball into a transition layup, which was followed by a four-point spurt from Kuzma to create a bit of separation for the Lakers at 84-78.
But true to what was seen from the Trail Blazers throughout the bubble, they shot their way back to a lead. Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for a mini 8-0 run to give Portland a lead with just over 5 minutes remaining.
Davis and James each missed two free throws, though were bailed out when Green came up with a steal and layup to tie the game. Lillard responded with a patented deep 3-pointer, then found Carmelo Anthony for his own shot behind the arc. Portland closed the game on a 19-6 run to seal their upset win.
James became the first player in NBA history with at least 20 points, 15 assists and 15 rebounds in a playoff game.
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