The Los Angeles Lakers sent a clear message to the Portland Trail Blazers with their blow out, 135-115 win on Monday: there’s a reason we’re the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and you’re the No. 8 seed. Here’s here how they did it:
The defense was suffocating
One could come to the conclusion that the Lakers’ offense was rolling just by looking at the box score. Not only did the Lakers score 135 points in a game, but they scored 80 points in the first half, which is the most points they’ve scored in any half since 1987.
However, their defense was just as impressive — at least in the first half when they were still putting in maximum effort on that end and playing their main guys. The most staggering stat from Monday night was that the Lakers allowed just 88.1 points per 100 possessions when Alex Caruso was on the court and 112 points when he was off of the court. Remarkably, that wasn’t even the highest point differential on the team.
The Lakers were among the best defensive teams in the NBA before the season was suspended, but the emergence of Kyle Kuzma on that end has allowed them to play lineups with five versatile defenders. That’s been huge for them this series and it will continue to play a big role in their success if they can keep it up.
Shots finally fell
Whether it’s a result of them feeling confident or them getting their legs back under them, the Lakers’ shots are starting to fall at an efficient rate. On Monday, they shot a series 43.6% percent from behind the arc on 39 attempts, which is also a season-high. Additionally, the Lakers set a new franchise record for 3-point makes with 17.
Three different Lakers players made at least three 3-pointers, including Kyle Kuzma, who made a team-high five 3-pointers on nine attempts. LeBron James (4) and Danny Green (3) were the other two players, and they were both one make shy from a perfect night from behind the arc.
It’s probably not reasonable to expect them to shoot like that every night, but games like that can do wonders for their confidence.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis were unstoppable
When LeBron James and Anthony Davis are hitting shots at the ridiculous rates they were on Monday, the Lakers are unbeatable. That’s it. That’s the whole thought.
LeBron James ... from STAPLES Center— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 25, 2020
( : Spectrum SportsNet & TNT) pic.twitter.com/RNOujjQ9zU
The Lakers will have a golden opportunity to close out the series on Wednesday. Tip-off will be at 6 p.m. PT on TNT.