The Trail Blazers pulled off a massive Game 1 upset against the Lakers - beating them 100-93 - ruining LeBron's first postseason appearance wearing purple and gold. Damian Lillard led all scorers with 34 points, transferring his bubble MVP level of play into the start of the postseason.
“Every game since we've been here has been a playoff game. So that prepared us for a game like this. It's only one win. I'm happy to be here competing in the playoffs again, but we've got to move on to the next one.”
Damian Lillard, ESPN
CJ McCollum added 21 points of his own, with Jusuf Nurkić recording a double-double of 16 points and 15 rebounds. Skinny Melo didn't have an efficient scoring night, but he did grab 10 'I got it, get the f*uck out of heres' and had a solid defensive display. But when it was time to ice the game, none of the Blazers' go-to guys have stepped up. Instead, it was Gary Trent Jr. who hit a three with 1:15 left on the clock to make it a two-possession game and leave the ball in Portland's corner. Charles Barkley had seen enough to call it.
The Lakers were led by LeBron James' triple-double of 23 points, 17 rebounds, and a playoff career-high 16 assists - the first such stat line in the playoffs' history. He has also surpassed the late great Kobe Bryant with the third-most triple-doubles in Lakers history, and it only took him 123 games to do so. But none of it mattered for James.
“We had a couple of breakdowns, which you can't have down the stretch, especially against a team like Portland.”
LeBron James, ESPN
LA as a team went 5-for-32 from behind the line, after shooting 79/261 in eight seeding games. Their last basket came with 1:35 left on the clock in a form of Anthony Davis' dunk to make it a two-point game. After that, the Lakers couldn't find a bucket, as Portland ran away with a victory.
That's the story of the bubble for the Lakers so far - they can't get into any sort of offensive rhythm. And last night was no exception. As a team, they shot .351 from the floor and failed to convert 11 of his 31 free throw attempts. AD let the pack of poor shooting performers, as he went 8-for-24 on his field-goal attempts, shooting 0-for-5 from behind the line, and 12-for-17 from the charity stripe. Kyle Kuzma put up 14 points on the same number of attempts, with Danny Green contributing with 10 points on 12 FGAs.
Not being able to score in triple digits against one of the worst defenses in the league has NBA fans even more optimistic about Portland's ability to pull off a 1-8 upset in the first round. I still wouldn't go as far. But Charles Barkley would. In fact, the Hall of Fame icon took it a step further. The Lakers are not only going to lose, but they're going to get swept by the Blazers - or at least that's what Chuck grooming the Inside the NBA studio says.
Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday. At this point, it's a must-win for the Lakers. If they are to flip the switch, now would be the best time to do it. Because, you wouldn't want Barkley's prediction to fruition. None of the two. Especially not the second one.