LA Lakers vs. Portland: What to Take Away from an Impressive Blazers' Opener
The Blazers improved to 1-0 and dropped the star-studded Lakers to a surprising 0-2.
It was an impressive season opener for Portland as its season couldn't have begun any better. Here are the awards, grades and analysis of the Blazers' victory.
Player of the game
Nicolas Batum: 26 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 9-16 FG
The game hopefully marked Batum's coming-out party. He was excellent on both ends of the floor, hitting jumpers and scoring in a variety of ways. He also got into the passing lanes defensively.
The 23-year-old was a pest on the defensive end against Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace. The only question now is consistency and whether this is not just a one-night performance.
Key moment of the game
With the Blazers clinging to a single-digit lead, newcomer Sasha Pavlovic made a huge jumper and was fouled by Dwight Howard with 1:35 left in the third quarter to push the lead to seven.
Pavlovic missed the ensuing free throw, but got the rebound and laid it up for an 85-76 lead to cap a four-point play. Pavlovic nailed a three-pointer on the following possession, and Portland ended the quarter on an 11-0 run to take a 92-76 lead into the fourth and led by double digits the rest of the way.
If there were any doubts how the rookie out of Weber State would fare in his first game, they might as well be put to rest.
The Oakland, Calif., native finished with 23 points off 7-for-17 shooting with 11 assists and three rebounds.
Damian Lillard became the third player in NBA history to score at least 20 points and dish 10 assists in his NBA debut, joining Hall of Famers Isiah Thomas and Oscar Robertson (via ESPN Stats & Info on Twitter). Impressive company, for sure.
Tweet of the Night
This Lillard kid is going to be pretty fun to watch all season and beyondJaime Valdez-US PRESSWIRE
— Jason Quick (@jwquick) October 31, 2012
What they said
"Defensively, we didn't do a good job," Lakers coach Mike Brown told Mike Bresnahan via the Los Angeles Times.
“It can’t be better,’’ Aldridge said. “Our defense won us the game, we got into the passing lanes, forced turnovers, we made them frustrated ... this was perfect for us.’’ (via Jason Quick of The Oregonian)
“I felt real comfortable,” Lillard said. “It’s a lot easier when L.A. is making shots, Wes is making shots and Nic is making shots. I gotta give credit to them, they made shots, and it made it easier for me.” (via Joe Freeman of The Oregonian)
Final Grade: B+
The Blazers continued to bring the intensity and fire that they showed during the preseason.
LaMarcus Aldridge was solid, but not spectacular, with 19 points and just three rebounds. Wesley Matthews held his ground with 22 points off 7-for-11 shooting and four steals.
Portland's bench is still a question mark with just 13 points total. The Lakers weren't that much better with 15 bench points.
L.A. dropped to 6-25 when it plays in the Rose Garden since Kobe Bryant was drafted in 1996. While the Blazers still have areas of improvement, it was the best debut imaginable.
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