Anthony Davis Drops 31 as Lakers Crush Damian Lillard, Blazers in Game 2

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 21, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, second from right, Kyle Kuzma (0) and Anthony Davis, right, look on at the half during Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)
Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

The top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers will breathe a little easier after they evened their first-round series with the Portland Trail Blazers via a 111-88 victory Thursday night in the 2020 NBA playoffs.

LeBron James had a triple-double in Game 1 (23 points, 17 rebounds, 16 assists), but the Lakers' supporting cast—including Anthony Davis—struggled to find their touch. James was 9-of-20 from the field, with the rest of the team shooting just 32.5 percent.

The Blazers also had a 24-point advantage in three-pointers, with Damian Lillard's six made threes eclipsing Los Angeles' five. 

The shoe was on the other foot in Game 2 as Lillard and CJ McCollum were 2-of-12 on three-pointers. Their poor shooting underscored how suffocating the Lakers were on defense, which helped Los Angeles build a 17-point lead, 56-39, at halftime.

The Lakers continued to coast in the second half, with both head coaches emptying out their bench for the majority of the fourth quarter.

Making matters worse for Portland, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Lillard suffered a dislocated left index finger, which is casting some doubt on his availability for Game 3.


Notable Performers

Anthony Davis, PF, Lakers: 13-21 FG, 31 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block

LeBron James, SF, Lakers: 4-11 FG, 10 points, six rebounds, seven assists, two steals

Damian Lillard, PG, Blazers: 6-14 FG, 18 points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal

CJ McCollum, SG, Blazers: 6-16 FG, 13 points, five rebounds, three assists


Davis Leads Dominant Showing

Los Angeles' perimeter game still left something to be desired, but it didn't matter because L.A. hammered Portland inside. The Lakers claimed a 52-40 edge on points in the paint.

Davis in particular took it upon himself to attack the Blazers in the paint.

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

Anthony Davis wanted it. So Anthony Davis got it. (📺: @SpectrumSN & ESPN) https://t.co/HCrcWLumTM

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

AD's looking for three points from outside and from inside👌 (📺: @SpectrumSN & ESPN) https://t.co/9sHnLEkNm7

The seven-time All-Star nearly had a double-double in the first half, scoring 21 points and collecting eight rebounds. No one player was more indicative of the Lakers' improvement between Games 1 and 2 than Davis.

Rob Perez @WorldWideWob

somebody got under Anthony Davis' skin after Game 1 and whoever that person is deserves a raise.

Skip Bayless @RealSkipBayless

Anthony Davis decided to come out and dominate tonight and has been by far the best player on the floor. Portland: overmatched. But if the Blazers heat back up & shoot their way back in this, come 4th q will AD stand for All Done?

Rick Kamla @RickKamlaSports

This is a legacy game for Anthony Davis and he has 21 + 8 and a 17-point halftime lead. When he’s in attack-mode, he’s unstoppable. This is what #Lakers signed up for...

Channing Frye @channingfrye

AD is going to work, when he plays like this the Blazers don’t have a answer. https://t.co/zUtRNIRwQb

When the NBA suspended the season in March, the Lakers had a 5.5-game lead on the Los Angeles Clippers for the best record in the Western Conference. As a result, they didn't have to do much in the restart to secure the No. 1 seed, and that might have fed into their performance. They dropped five of their eight seeding games.

Between that and Tuesday's loss, it seemed reasonable to wonder whether Los Angeles would have its hands full against the Blazers, who were riding a wave of confidence.

If this is the version of the Lakers that shows up for the remainder of the series, they might have things wrapped up in five games.


Reality Sets in for Portland

Coming into the postseason, James made the point that the Blazers are "not your typical eighth seed," which is true to some extent. With a healthy Jusuf Nurkic for a full season, Portland might have finished higher in the standings.

But that doesn't mean the Blazers are in the same class as the Lakers when the two teams are at their best.

During the regular season, Los Angeles was third (106.1) in defensive rating compared to 27th for Portland (114.3), per NBA.com, and that wide gulf was on display Thursday.

Steve Jones Jr. @stevejones20

Shots going in helping the Lakers but they are playing with much more purpose tonight early in Game 2. Different sets, putting pressure on the Blazers defense to move more than in Game 1. Felt like they tried to out-talent last game.

Yaya Dubin @JADubin5

will the blazers get within 6 feet of a shooter by the end of the night y/n

Fatigue might become a factor in the series as well.

The Lakers might have been playing in first or second gear during the seeding round, yet one obvious benefit to that approach was that the players weren't expending excess energy. The Blazers, meanwhile, were fighting for their playoff lives, which surely exacted a physical and mental toll.

Angel Gray @Angel_Gray1

Is it just me, or is the energy level at 20% for the Blazers? 🤨

Mason Ginsberg @MasonGinsberg

Blazers may benefit from just mailing this one in and getting their main guys some rest given how intense each of their games have been throughout the entire bubble

Brian Mahoney @briancmahoney

The Blazers, in particular Nurkic and Carmelo, look like a team that's played too much basketball lately and doesn't have any legs tonight. If they're going to lose, getting blown out for a little extra time on the bench might be beneficial.

Mike Trudell @LakersReporter

In Game 1, Portland may have benefitted from being in all those tight games the last month. We’ll see if the Lakers - who had a far different approach to the seeding games by circumstance - can continue to look like the team with more gas as the series continues.

Just Los Angeles responded after Game 1, Portland will probably be better in Game 3.

In all likelihood, that won't be enough to drastically change where the series looks to be going.


What's Next?

The teams return to the court Saturday for Game 3. The tip is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET, with coverage on ABC.