The Lakers hadn't won a game in the city of Portland in years. In fact, they had dropped sixteen straight to the Blazers over the past four seasons. The play of the Lakeshow hadn't looked good in the last few games, even in a win against the Dallas Mavericks(where they almost let a lead 19-point slip away). Still, LeBron James and company managed to come into the Moda Center on Saturday night and secure a win, 114-110, over the team that had seemingly their number for years.
You can thank Rajon Rondo for his excellent play that night. Lonzo Ball was having an off-game, and after catching a ton of flack from Laker fans over his ill fit with the team, Rondo absolutely delivered in a big win over a quality team. He had a pretty decent game on the stat sheet(17 points, 10 boards, 6 dimes in 25 minutes off the bench), but it was his vocal leadership that truly made the mark of the game. Rondo was in floor general mode on Saturday, constantly talking with teammates on the floor and even leading the charge in timeouts. The ears of the young core eagerly perked up for the vet. Even LeBron was quiet when Rondo was talking.
LeBron of course had a typically impactful LeBron game that we've jadedly come to expect(28 points, 5 boards, 7 dimes, 2 blocks, 9/20 shooting). He's had trouble hitting his free throws late in games, to much chagrin from Laker fans, but LeBron managed to drain both when sent to the line in crunch time. JaVale McGee also had six blocks on the evening to go with 12 points and 9 boards.
It was an exciting game of runs. The Lakers managed to pull off a 16-0 run to balloon their lead to seventeen in the third quarter, to which the Trailblazers responded with a 22-8 one of their own in the fourth. It was late in the game, but it was enough to cut the lead down to a two-possession game with only about 3:30 to play. It seemed like LA blowing this game was definitely in play, but the Lakers held the ship steady to go home with the W. LeBron shoveled it to JaVale for a nice basket under the hoop to effectively put the game out of reach
Lillard and McCollum led the way for Portland with 30 points apiece, but the Blazers frigidity from beyond the arc (6/35 from three) didn't do them any favors. The Blazers bench was outscored by the Lakers big-time, 51-26. JaVale McGee also gave them a ton of trouble in the paint. He didn't make anything easy for the driving Damian Lillard. If Portland managed to shoot at an improved clip, they probably could've stolen this one back. But LA's perimeter defense looked noticeably better, so partial credit must be allocated to the defense.
The Lakers will take on the Toronto Raptors on Sunday evening while the Blazers have a date with the Timberwolves at home on that same day. The Lakers will be heading into this next game feeling good coming off a win but also comforted by the fact that there is incoming relief at the backup center position. Tyson Chandler is in the process of being bought out by the Phoenix Suns, and he intends to sign with the Lakers to fill their desperate need for big men. He won't be ready to go for that Raptors game but he should be in the lineup shortly. Tune in to tonight's NBA action!
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