By Justin Batiste
The Lakers had the Blazers beat, then Lillard happened!
The Los Angeles Lakers came so close to beating the Portland Trail Blazers after losing to them twice earlier in the year. Then, Damian Lillard happened. One of the most underrated players in the NBA, Damian Lillard did what he does best, and that’s close games.
Lillard made four threes’ in a row late in the fourth quarter to close the game and ended up finishing the game with 39 points. Other Blazers star, C.J McCollum, finished the game with a quiet 22 points. For the most part throughout the game the Lakers did a good job on containing the two stars for Portland. Although, the stat line says different. Lillard and McCollum scored quietly throughout the game. It was only until the end of fourth you noticed Lillard had 39 points, because of how hot he had gotten. But before that you wouldn’t even had noticed that Lillard had 27.
Lillard and McCollum are two of the most dynamic scorers in the league. So, stopping them is something easier said than done. However, there were times where the Lakers could have defended Lillard and McCollum a little bit better. Lillard and McCollum are going to get their points, but it’s about how they get their points. The Lakers best bet was making them work for every point they scored, and they didn’t.
At times the Lakers defended well, but there were also times where Lillard and McCollum had too much space to shoot. That can’t happen if you want to beat this Blazers team, especially when your offensive game isn’t up to par with theirs. This is a part of the game the Lakers are going to emphasize. Staying locked in with the defensive game plan.
Offensively, the Lakers played well. They didn’t shoot the ball too good, but there was flow to the offense. The Lakers had six players finish in double digits to the Blazers three. Isaiah Thomas was a good addition to this team. He’s another play maker who can score the ball, and that’s what the Lakers need when Lonzo Ball is out. It’s almost like Ball never left until it comes to the defensive side of the ball. That’s something Thomas must improve on.
Forward, Julius Randle had a productive game putting up 21 points and grabbing 9 boards. Randle can be another Draymond Green for this Lakers team. That’s saying a lot, but the way he plays is very Draymond Green like. Randle has a motor, rebounds and defends. He needs to improve on his offensive game and play more under control, but Green is a player Randle should try to mirror. This was a disappointing loss for the Lakers. As for the Blazers, this improves their record to 38-26, and they remain third in the west.