Davis Dominates as Lakers Crush Blazers to Even Series
The lack of shooting and missed free throws down the stretch cost the Los Angeles Lakers Game 1 in their first-round series against the Portland Trailblazers. The Lakers' inconsistent shooting woes was a concern going into Game 2, but the Lakers came out in attack mode after the last game’s dismal performance. It was disappointing how they played offensively considering how well they played on defense, as it was the first time in 37 games the Blazers held a team under 100 points.
The superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis knew they had to get off to a fast start and maintain the momentum, and that’s exactly what they did. Davis got off to a hot start scoring 11 of his game-high 31 points in the first quarter as he showcased his phenomenal offensive skills and dominated on both ends of the floor as seen when Davis made an emphatic block on a Damian Lillard layup attempt right before halftime.
James asserted himself by playing with plenty of energy and effort while he was determined not to relinquish the enormous lead they had. James only finished with 10 points but was still effective with 7 boards, 7 assists and 2 steals after his historic triple-double in Game 1 recording 23 points to go along with 17 rebounds and 16 assists.
The Lakers shot 5-32 on 3 point attempts in Game 1 while they also played terrible defense in transition, but they adjusted and improved and played much better basketball in Game 2 while they shot 36.8 % from downtown and 90% from the charity stripe.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope bounced back nicely after going 0-9 in the first game, as he finished Game 2 with 16 points and shot 4-6 from downtown as he made a huge difference in the outcome of the game. If Caldwell-Pope can continue to play with such efficiency daily, he has an opportunity to become that third scoring option the Lakers desperately need to take the pressure off of James and Davis.
The Lakers' frontcourt also did a great job controlling the boards as they out-rebounded the Blazers 50-41. They also cleaned up on the offensive rebounds totaling 14 of them giving the offense second-chance scoring opportunities. JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard, and Davis all posed problems with their size, length, and agility as they made it difficult for the Blazers to score in the point. The Lakers lead by 17 at the half and led by double digits since the 2 nd quarter. The largest lead was 33 points as the Blazers struggled offensively.
The Blazers struggled from three-point range, shooting only 27.6% from behind the arc while Damian Lillard shot an uncharacteristic 1-7 from deep. According to ESPN, Lillard was double-teamed on 8 plays, only scoring 4 points on 17% from the field. The Blazers also struggled to get to the free-throw line, only shooting 11 attempts while attempting 33 in Game 1. Credit Frank Vogel and the Lakers coaching staff for coming up with the strategy to neutralize and slow down Lillard. Late in the third quarter, Lillard suffered a dislocated left index finger and sat out the rest of the game. X-rays came back negative and he should be good to go for Game 3 on Saturday.
This was the Lakers' first playoff win since 2012. Also to note, LeBron James has never lost a first-round playoff series in his entire career, but these Blazers may have something to say about that as this serious has the potential to go 7 games.