After a rough loss on Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers bounced back against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, winning 128-109 thanks to LeBron James being fantastic from beyond the arc, hitting six three-pointers and ending the night with 31 points.
With Lonnie Walker IV and Troy Brown Jr. being late scratches, the Lakers began Wednesday’s game with Dennis Schroder, Austin Reaves, Patrick Beverley, James and Anthony Davis. This group has never started a game together and they played like it. The offense was stagnant and disjointed, scoring just four points on 2-8 shooting in the first four minutes of the game. The scoring woes continued throughout the quarter until the Lakers went on a 9-0 run thanks to Austin Reaves hitting four free throws, having a breakaway dunk and Davis converting on a three-point play. With the Blazers struggling on offense just as much as Los Angeles, the Lakers came out of the quarter with a two-point lead.
In the second, James proved that his ankle was just fine. He started to heat up, scoring 15 points in the quarter and helped get the Lakers’ offense going. L.A. continued to shoot poorly throughout the quarter, but the team’s effort was there to drive to the basket and draw fouls or crash the offensive glass. The closing minute of the half was an exhilarating exchange, with both teams converting on highlight dunks and concluding with a three from Westbrook at the buzzer to give the Lakers a 66-62 advantage after two.
For the first time in forever, the Lakers didn’t just survive the third quarter; they thrived. LeBron was a flame thrower from downtown, shooting 75% from deep; the Blazers couldn’t make a basket and Russ ended this quarter with another buzzer-beater, this time from halfcourt!
RUSSELL WESTBROOK BUZZER BEATER…AGAIN pic.twitter.com/nKNHhUTmL0— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) December 1, 2022
The Lakers won the third 30-21, but with Monday’s game ending in disaster after being up by double digits in the fourth, cautious optimism permeated Crytpo.com Arena. Would the Lakers close out Portland in the fourth?
Yes, they did. Portland never got within reach and anytime they scored back-to-back buckets, LeBron responded with a basket, Reaves would hit a corner three and the Lakers cruised to victory.
This was a complete game. The Lakers beat the Blazers in virtually every key statistical category. James proved his ankle was healed and Reaves had a career night, scoring 22 points on 70% shooting from the field. What made this victory even more impressive is the Lakers are missing key players from their rotation and had little to no time to prepare for the adjustment. This was a good win in a season that has seen more defeats than victories.
The Lakers have played the fewest games of any team in the NBA. That will be changing with a brutal December schedule that features 16 games in 28 days. We’ll know a lot more about how good this team is or isn’t and maybe, just maybe, the front office will make some decisions on what this roster will look like as we head into the year 2023.