The Los Angeles Lakers completely blew out the Miami Heat on Wednesday in game one of the NBA Finals but the game didn’t come without some early jitters. The Lakers looked slow and nervous to start the game as the Heat rushed out to an early 13 point lead.
The Lakers looked to be on the verge of being on the wrong side of a blow out themselves before Kentavious Caldwell-Pope drilled two huge corner threes and was fouled on a third one. KCP’s offensive outpour (and some solid play defensively) allowed the Lakers to get settled and they ultimately ended the first quarter with a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way.
After the game, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel and star Anthony Davis were highly complimentary of the Lakers’ starting guard:
Anthony Davis gives credit to KCP for keeping them in the game early in the 1st quarter pic.twitter.com/7bPB4MVmft
— Lakers Outsiders (@LakersOutsiders) October 1, 2020
Frank Vogel was asked about KCP's early shooting/scoring, but he credited his two-way play.
"It's been a great lift for us throughout this playoff run… Kenny's value is on the defensive end. The tone he sets with how hard he plays defensive really carries over to our group."
— Finals Faigen (@hmfaigen) October 1, 2020
KCP himself also spoke about being ready for the moment in his first ever Finals game:
KCP on his recent success: "Just being ready to shoot. Staying in a rhythm. Try not to worry about how many shots I'm getting…Knock down 3s when the ball comes to me."
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) October 1, 2020
Caldwell-Pope has arguably been the Lakers’ third best performer all season with consistent 3-point shooting and hard-nosed defense. It’s great to see him rewarded with such a huge moment on the biggest stage in basketball.
KCP finished the game with 13 points and added two steals on the defensive end.