It was an emotional evening for the Los Angeles Lakers. Tears were shed, tributes were done, speeches were given, and oh yeah, a basketball game was played on Friday night, with the Lakers losing to the Portland Trail Blazers, 127-119.
The game wasn’t the most important thing on a night in which Lakers fans collectively mourned the loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and the seven others who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, but it was an entertaining first step back towards closer to normalcy as the team took the floor for the first time since the tragedy.
Anthony Davis started off red-hot once again, continuing to demonstrate a knack for first-quarter scoring by dropping 18 in the period. But he cooled off in second, finishing the half with just 20 before fighting back to end the night with 37 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 blocks. LeBron James helped him out with 22 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds.
In the third quarter was when things started to get chippy, with both teams repeatedly disagreeing with calls as technical fouls were handed out. That’s when Damian Lillard started cooking, roasting whoever the Lakers threw at him before finishing the game with 48 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds and a hard-earned victory.
Defense as a whole was an issue for the Lakers, who even aside from Lillard being a walking inferno couldn’t get enough stops to win this one. They deserve credit for fighting on such an emotionally turbulent night — particularly Kyle Kuzma, who didn’t play a perfect game but did play with heart, racking up 17 points and leading the team with 15 rebounds — but it just wasn’t enough in the end.
The Lakers had to play another basketball game at some point, and this one gets this first out of the way. It’s hard to be too upset about the result after a week in which it’s just nice to have basketball back to talk about again. It’s here to stay, too, as the Lakers aren’t going to get much of a rest after this one, immediately flying out to Sacramento to take on the Kings tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. PST.
This loss dropped the Lakers to 36-11, and they’ll be looking to stop their losing streak at two games tomorrow. We’ll see you there.