The Los Angeles Lakers were defeated by the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1, causing concern among a fanbase that waited seven years to see them back in the postseason.
Like most of their games in the bubble, the Lakers were unable to score with any sort of rhythm, putting up a measly 93 points against a Trail Blazers defense that has been hemorrhaging points in Orlando. Portland only scored 100 points themselves, but Damian Lillard nailed a three from nearly halfcourt that seemed to ice the game.
LeBron James set an NBA record by recording a triple-double of 23 points, 17 rebounds and 16 assists, and looked get teammates going early in the first half but was unrewarded as no one was capable of hitting an open shot.
Meanwhile, Anthony Davis scored 28 points with 21 of them coming in the first half. He was much less aggressive in the second half, often times passing up looks from the perimeter and letting Portland off the hook.
Kyle Kuzma was a bright spot in the matchup, scoring 14 points in his playoff debut. The young forward did not rattled at all about facing an early series deficit.
“I slept good last night,” Kuzma said. “It’s just basketball. Obviously it’s the playoffs and high pressure, but it’s just basketball. That’s kind of what I came up with over the past four months.
“You’ve just got to play the game, have fun and play with a competitive spirit. When you do that, you go out there and after the game you can say I gave it all my effort. You can’t dwell on it because we play every other day.”
With head coach Frank Vogel opting to go with his regular starters, L.A. got off to another slow start that they could not afford against a hot Blazers team. Inserting either Kuzma or Alex Caruso into the starting lineup could be the adjustment Vogel needs to make to turn things around, but he reiterated that it would only happen if necessary.
“In any series with any team, it would be something I consider and evaluate based on a certain matchup,”Vogel said.
“The way you started throughout the course of a season isn’t how you always stay throughout a seven-game series. As a one seed and team with the best record in the West, I’m confident in the lineup that we have, but we’ll continue to evaluate all that stuff game to game, just like we would in any playoff series.”
Vogel announced prior to tipoff the Lakers starting lineup was remaining the same as Game 1, and Rajon Rondo again is inactive.
Even if the Lakers offense does improve, getting stops and limiting Lillard will be the key to winning Game 2 and evening up the series.
Lakers (52-19) vs. Trail Blazers (35-39)
6:00 p.m. PT, Aug. 20, 2020
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando, Florida
TV: ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: ESPN L.A. 710
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Danny Green
PF: Anthony Davis
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Dwight Howard, Dion Waiters, Markieff Morris
Projected Trail Blazers Starting Lineup:
PG: Damian Lillard
SG: CJ McCollum
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Wenyen Gabriel
C: Jusuf Nurkic
Key Reserves: Gary Trent Jr., Hassan Whiteside, Mario Hezonja
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