Lakers lose third in a row falling 106-104, thanks to late-game heroics by Mr. Lillard.
So far in this young season, the defensive focus has been there, but the offensive production has not. On Sunday, everything was running smoothly from the jump. The Lakers started the first with AD protecting the rim and getting blocks, Russ scoring five points and a beautiful dime to Lonnie Walker IV early, and the team continued their league-leading steal rate with 3.
However, for every action, there is a reaction, and the Blazers went with a 2-3 zone to clog the paint and dare the Lakers to shoot. With Los Angeles shooting poorly again on Sunday, they struggled, lost the lead, and went 1-7 from three to start the game. A quarter that started with a 10-2 run ended with an eight-point deficit.
After getting off to a 10-2 start, the Lakers really struggled, with Portland dominating the rest of the period to take a 32-24 lead out of the 1st Q.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 23, 2022
LAL shot just 37.5% (1 for 7 from 3) had 6 turnovers and conceded 11 FT's, several on unnecessary fouls.
Struggles continued in the second. The Lakers got outrebounded, losing the battle 29-21; three-point shooting didn’t improve, going 1-16 from three, including, what appeared to be, a frustrating logo three from LeBron that only touched air. Last season, these types of struggles resulted in the Lakers conceding and losing the game. This season, they have a little bit more fight in them. Down by as many as 12, the Lakers ended up winning the quarter 24-23 and keeping the game within reach down by only seven to end the first half.
In the second half, Anthony Davis reminded us why he was worth giving up all those picks and every Baby Laker available for. He did everything but sell popcorn in the third quarter. He had multiple slam dunks, a couple of blocks, his screening was better, and it was him, not LeBron James, who looked like the best Laker on the court. Thanks to his 10-point quarter, the Lakers took control and entered the fourth up by five.
Closing out games is tough, especially when the opponent is Damian Lillard. In the fourth, the Blazers did take a brief lead, 84-83, but the Lakers responded, going on an 8-3 run. The Blazers cut the lead to one, and Dame delivered once again with a deep three to put the Blazers up and seal the victory. Anthony Davis ended the night with 22 points 10 rebounds in 36 minutes; LeBron contributed 31 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists in the loss.
Progress is not always linear. Each game, they’ve gotten better, but tonight should have resulted in a win. While AD has made a case for the Lakers number one option, Lonnie Walker IV has solidified himself as number three. He ended the game with 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist in 32 minutes of play. The defense has been as good as Darvin Ham advertised, with the team creating 19 turnovers and forcing 9 steals. The lack of offense has canceled out this improvement on the defensive side of the ball, and Sunday was no exception. Hopefully, the Lakeshow can improve their 20% shooting from three, or wins will be a struggle this season.
The Lakers’ tough early schedule continues on Wednesday with a game against the Nuggets at 7 pm PT. The Nuggets are currently 2-1 with a victory against the Warriors and one of the favorites to come out of the West.