The Portland Trail Blazers played some of the best basketball through the first eight seeding games. Carmelo Anthony found his old self, Gary Trent Jr. was a superstar in the making. Through the first three quarters the Blazers battled the Lakers and the refs.
Damian Lillard would not let the Blazers fold. He led all scorers with 34.
First Quarter Thoughts
Wenyen Gabriel is getting the start for the injured Zach Collins. Gabriel is not going to be on the floor long, he does have foul trouble issues, but in the minutes that he’s there he will frustrate whoever he is guarding. He’s been under the skin of Anthony Davis early. He’s not giving AD any room to shoot, making hustle blocks, racing out for huge dunks.
He’s done more in four and half minutes than Zach Collins has done in eight games.
He did pick up two quick fouls, but did make a huge impact early in there.
Carmelo Anthony and Damian Lillard got going early too. They were able to take advantage of a terrible Lakers starting backcourt. Lillard and Anthony both took Danny Green, the Lakers best perimeter defender, to task. Baiting him into a three point foul and then Carmelo backing him down into the paint from 28 feet away.
So far both LeBron and Davis have been content to kick the ball out to “shooters” for the Lakers. This is not paying off at all. The Lakers are 0-8 from three in the first ten minutes of the game. Portland continues to switch decently well and force the Lakers into tough shots. The Lakers run a lot of ISO with both AD and LeBron. This is not the game they want to play, they like to get their offense set. Portland is making things very chaotic for the Lakers on offense.
This might be the best quarter of defense the Blazers have played since the restart.
Frank Vogel attempting to put Alex Caruso is just laughable. He doesn’t have the foot speed to stay in front of Dame, so he gave up a couple layups from Dame and then when he played off he gave up a three. Lakers started trapping Lillard toward the sideline. This is going to leave either Carmelo Anthony or Gary Trent Jr. open for a three.
Blazers took a 36-25 lead into the second quarter.
Second Quarter Thoughts
Something to watch throughout the series is who is guarding Carmelo. It doesn’t appear that the Lakers want to put either LeBron James or Anthony Davis on him. Anthony is has scored easily on Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma, and Markieff Morris. Melo did the same back down and turn around move on each play and had the same result.
LeBron James decided to start taking over the game at this point. He started attacking the rim, the Blazers started to collapse all five players around him, so he started finding shooters who then started knocking down shots. The Lakers went on a 13-1 run with all of Portland’s ten points coming from the foul line in the first six minutes of the quarter.
The Lakers are a much better team when LeBron gets everyone else’s confidence up.
Everything slowed down when Dwight Howard tilted the rim. It continued to slow down as Anthony Davis started to get to the line on just about every Laker possession. He had three fouls called against the Blazers by dropping a shoulder into a set Blazer defender. The refs were terrible in the second quarter. If a Blazer breathed on Davis a foul was called, but then he gets away with hitting both Melo and Nurk on shots with nothing called.
This quarter really felt like a Knicks-Bulls battle from the early 90s, but with more foul calls. There have been 47 free throws shot in the first half of this game. The refs got way too whistle happy and did not let a flow develop in the second quarter.
The Blazers did shoot seven more free throws than the Lakers in the half, but it really felt the other way. Both teams both had 16 fouls called on each other too. It was such a hard quarter to watch and follow.
The Blazers need to not let the third quarter slip away from them like always.
Third Quarter Thoughts
CJ McCollum started the third quarter extra aggressive. He really needs to get going in the game and he hit a big three to open up the scoring in the half and then a pull up jumper at a lunging Anthony Davis. He has looked shifty in this quarter, the Lakers can’t stay in front of him this quarter.
The suspect officiating continues. Anthony Davis literally jumped on top of Wenyen Gabriel for an offensive rebound, then jumped on his again as he went back up and Gabriel picked up his fifth foul of the game. The refs are letting Anthony Davis get away with everything this game.
Portland has had excellent ball movement in the quarter. They are moving the ball around and finding open shooters. They haven’t been able to knock down the open shots, but they have moved away from ISO ball. CJ has eleven points in the first eight minutes of the quarter.
This third quarter has not been pretty at all. The Lakers have played down to the Blazers third quarter standards. Through the first nine minutes the Blazers have outscored the Lakers 17-13. Both teams are not shooting well at all and each team is both under ten turnovers for the whole game. The defense has not been great by either team. This is such a weird game so far.
Quarter ends sloppily, but Portland actually won a third quarter. They outscored the Lakers by two, 21-19, and take a 78-75 lead into the fourth quarter.
Again, this was such a weird quarter.
Fourth Quarter Thoughts
The fourth quarter is not starting off much better. The Lakers made their big run when Lillard was on the bench to start the second and they tie the game on a Kuzma corner three. This immediately gets Lillard up off the bench. He got less than five minutes of total rest between the end of the third and checking back in with 10:12 left in the quarter.
The fourth has been all Kyle Kuzma. He’s attacking with abandon and Portland can’t stop him. He gives the Lakers a six point lead with just over eight minutes to play. Portland looks spent and has no answer for anything that the Lakers are doing right now.
With the 11-0 run it looked like the Lakers were ready to put this game away. That is when Damian Lillard hit two straight three pointers to tie the game and CJ a possession later gave the Blazers a 89-87 lead with a gorgeous mid range jumper.
WIth under five minutes left Anthony Davis and LeBron James missed four consecutive free throws that could have given the Lakers the lead.
Damian Lillard hits a 37 foot three to give the Blazers a three point lead with under three minutes left. Melo follows that up with another huge fourth quarter three pointer. Carmelo needs to be re-signed by the Blazers right now for next year. Figure out the roles later. He’s a great fit on this team.
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) August 19, 2020
Blazers take a 1-0 lead into Thursday (8/20). Tip is just after 6:00 PM PST.