You probably couldn’t have come up with a better way to rebound in Game 2 than what the Los Angeles Lakers did on Thursday night. The team absolutely destroyed the Portland Trail Blazers, winning 111-88 as the Lakers were able to get their offense back on track while continuing their impressive defense against Damian Lillard and the rest of the Blazers. The Lakers now have the momentum, and will look to take a 2-1 series lead tonight.
Damian Lillard to play despite finger injury
After his 34-point performance in Game 1 that included some late clutch threes, Damian Lillard only scored 18 points in Game 2 behind a 6-for-14 performance from the field. He actually left the game before “Dame Time”, exiting with 1:44 left in the 3rd quarter with an apparent finger injury. The injury seemed to really bother Dame, as many started to wonder if he might not be able to play in tonight’s game. That wonder wasn’t able to last too long, as Lillard iterated that he would definitely be playing in Game 3. To back it up even more, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said on Friday that Damian Lillard will be on the court, albeit with a splint on his finger.
Portland Coach Terry Stotts says be believes Damian Lillard will be wearing a splint tomorrow, but reiterated what Lillard said yesterday: that he’ll play tomorrow.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) August 21, 2020
Let’s be real, the Lakers would be the luckiest team in NBA history to get another sub-20-point performance from Damian Lillard in this series. Lillard’s one of the most hard-nosed, tough players in the NBA, so his finger injury will probably not affect him too much. Still, you never know the severity of the finger, with trouble possibly brewing for Portland if it impacts Lillard’s performance as the Lakers seem to really be in a groove on the defensive end. In addition, the Trail Blazers may be getting tired after basically being in “must-win mode” since the bubble started on July 30th. Stotts was asked about this on Friday, saying the following (per Tania Ganguli of the LA Times):
“Last night was the first time I thought we didn’t have the same bounce,” Stotts says, when asked if the team has fatigued. Stotts noted game after game of must-win situations might have caused fatigue at some point, but “what we proved us that we’re up to the task.”
If the Trail Blazers are actually starting to run on fumes, then this series could be heavily swinging in the Lakers’ favor as they were able to get plenty of rest for LeBron James and Anthony Davis last night as the team had a 88-58 lead going into the 4th quarter.
Please keep making three-pointers, Lakers
After another frustrating shooting performance in the bubble during Game 1, many were wondering if the Lakers had entered a dry spell that may cause the team to eventually be upset by the Trail Blazers. They only made five of their 32 three-point attempts in Game 1 (15.6%) but bounced back in a big way, making 14 of their 38 attempts on Thursday night (36.8%).
Frank Vogel touched on the shooting woes from the first game after this game and credited paint touches with success behind the arc.
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) August 21, 2020
“We have arguably the greatest drive and kick player in the history of the game in LeBron James and this is a drive and kick league, so for our whole group we encourage touching the paint and looking for weak side shooters,” Vogel said. “When we play that way we typically generate high quality threes, we did it in the first game; we didn’t knock them down, we knocked them down at a higher clip tonight but we still have plenty of looks that we didn’t knock down. I still think our potential for what we can do, the damage we can do with that concept hasn’t reached where it’s going to be hopefully in the playoffs.”
The return-to-form was led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who had a terrible performance in Game 1 (0-for-9 from the field, 0-for-5 from three). He followed it up with one of the better performances he has had as a Laker, making four of his six three-point attempts to end with 16 points (Lakers’ second-leading scorer) with a plus/minus box score of +24.
The Lakers will continue to need these types of games from beyond the arc, as you just can’t survive with the best of the NBA if you’re shooting around 20% in playoff games. In addition to KCP, it was great to see Anthony Davis knock some down (3-of-4) after a 0-for-5 performance in Game 1.
Tip-off will be at 8:30 p.m. EST/5:30 p.m. PST and will be televised on ABC. Let’s keep this going!