LeBron James, Anthony Davis Power Lakers to Blowout Win over Blazers in Game 4August 25, 2020
The Los Angeles Lakers are a single win away from their first playoff series victory since the 2011-12 campaign.
Los Angeles defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 135-115 in Game 4 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series Monday at Walt Disney World Resort. LeBron James led the way for the Purple and Gold, who are up 3-1 after a third straight win following their Game 1 setback.
Jusuf Nurkic spearheaded the effort for a Portland team that has been largely playing with its back against the wall since it entered the bubble and will now need to win three in a row itself to advance.
Both Anthony Davis (back) and Damian Lillard (knee) were ruled out for the game after it was well in hand.
Notable Player Stats
- LeBron James, F, LAL: 30 PTS, 10 AST, 6 REB, 10-of-12 FG, 4-of-5 3PT
- Anthony Davis, F, LAL: 18 PTS, 5 REB, 5 AST, 2 BLK
- Kyle Kuzma, F, LAL: 18 PTS, 5-of-9 3PT
- Damian Lillard, G, POR: 11 PTS, 4 AST
- Jusuf Nurkic, C, POR: 20 PTS, 13 REB, 4 AST
- CJ McCollum, G, POR: 18 PTS, 5 REB, 2 STL
LeBron James Reminds Everyone He's Still the King
It's not often a team with LeBron—and a No. 1-seeded team at that—is overshadowed by anyone in a playoff series.
That was arguably the case in this one as the eighth-seeded Trail Blazers captured the attention of the basketball world in the bubble with Lillard going on a scoring barrage and leading them into the playoffs. Portland winning Game 1 of the series only exacerbated the hype.
James clearly had enough.
The King was unstoppable during Monday's win, blowing past Portland defenders with an explosive first step, overpowering smaller matchups in the lane and finding his touch from the outside.
It felt like pouring salt in the wound when James pulled up from Dame range in the third quarter and drained it.
Portland didn't have anyone with the combination of size and athleticism to even slow him down, which forced double-teams and help defenders his way. The supporting cast took advantage of the resultant openings, and the team as a whole shot 17-of-39 (43.6 percent) from deep in the commanding win.
The improved accuracy was a welcome sign for the Lakers after they shot 5-of-32 (15.6 percent) on three-pointers in the Game 1 loss. James will continue attracting additional defenders with his penetration throughout the playoffs, and Los Angeles will need the surrounding shooters to capitalize if it is going to win the title.
Trail Blazers' Defensive Woes Return at Inopportune Time
There was no bigger story in the bubble than Lillard, and for good reason.
After all, he put the Trail Blazers on his back and led them up the Western Conference standings into the playoffs by putting on one of the most memorable scoring displays in recent history. He routinely hit shots from just inside half court, he scored 51 points against the Philadelphia 76ers and 61 points against the Dallas Mavericks, and he didn't back down from any challenge.
Lost in all the deserved hype was the reality that the Trail Blazers are one of the worst defensive teams in the league.
They were 27th in defensive rating during the regular season and 20th of 22 teams during the seeding games in the Florida bubble, per NBA.com. It appeared as if they might have solved some of their issues through three games against Los Angeles, and they were a solid sixth in the playoffs entering Monday's action.
So much for that.
Portland immediately fell behind 15-0, and even with all its offensive weapons, it couldn't string together enough defensive stops to threaten Los Angeles' lead. Whether it was giving up wide-open looks from three-point range, allowing offensive rebounds when the Lakers did miss or failing to keep James out of the lane, the Trail Blazers were a mess on the defensive end once again.
As a result, they are one loss away from elimination.
Game 5 of the series is Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET.