Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James posted 28 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and three blocks to help his team break a four-game losing streak and defeat the Portland Trail Blazers 102-93 at home Friday in Staples Center.
Lakers guard Dennis Schroder returned to the lineup after missing four games due to the league's health and safety protocols and supplemented James' effort with 22 points. Montrezl Harrell added 17 points and nine boards off the bench for the 23-11 Lakers.
Turnovers (15 vs. the Lakers' nine) and poor shooting (37.8 percent from the field) ultimately doomed the 18-14 Blazers, who have now lost four straight.
However, Blazers point guard Damian Lillard excelled, leading all scorers with 35 points on 11-of-24 shooting alongside seven assists.
Blazers PG Damian Lillard: 35 points, 7 assists
Blazers C Enes Kanter: 11 points, 17 rebounds
Blazers SG Gary Trent Jr.: 19 points
Lakers G/F LeBron James: 28 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, 3 blocks
Lakers G Dennis Schroder: 22 points
Lakers C Montrezl Harrell: 17 points, 9 rebounds
James' All-Around Effort Paves Path to Win
Many teams over the course of James' 18-season career have failed to come up with answers for slowing down the four-time NBA MVP and four-time NBA champion, so the Blazers being unable to do so Friday isn't out of the norm.
James was simply sensational en route to putting the Lakers' losing streak to bed, dominating the Blazers on both ends and sometimes turning excellent defense into easy buckets.
In the first quarter, James stripped Robert Covington of the ball as he tried to sky to the rim. He then took care of business himself with a coast-to-coast dunk.
Later in the frame, James launched a perfect Hail Mary pass to Harrell for another two.
James later played excellent defense on Lillard, sticking with the All-Star guard before adding another block to his stat line.
Blazers forward Derrick Jones Jr. later became another one of James' block recipients.
When he wasn't scoring or blocking shots, he was setting up his teammates for easy looks. Here he is again finding Harrell for a pair of buckets and Marc Gasol for another on a no-look inbounds pass.
James also benefitted from a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope swipe on Lillard, as he collected the ball, found KCP, got the rock back and slammed it home.
Ultimately, it was another epic performance from James, who will now look to close the first half of the season on a high note with three more games remaining before the All-Star break.
Lillard Excels Despite Tough Night for Blazers Overall
Lillard entered this game averaging 32.0 points and 11.5 assists in his last six contests, continuing a phenomenal season that should undoubtedly land him on the sixth All-NBA team of his career.
The Blazers may have lost following a rough offensive performance, but Lillard excelled once again, keeping Portland in this one thanks to his efforts.
The former Weber State star scored 15 points in the first quarter alone, with nine of them occurring in the final 3:09.
That first quarter included the shot of the game, with Lillard somehow making this layup from a near-impossible angle:
He continued his torrid pace in the second quarter, adding another nine capped by a four-point play:
The second half did not go as well for Lillard and the Blazers, but he hit the 30-point mark once again after nailing a stepback jumper:
The shorthanded Blazers, who are missing C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins due to injury, ultimately could not keep pace with James and the Lakers, even if L.A. was missing superstar big man Anthony Davis.
It's a tough loss for Portland, but on the bright side, it's still four games over .500 and firmly in contention for a playoff spot.
Plus, Lillard is playing excellent basketball on a routine basis, and his presence in the backcourt can help Portland compete and win against any team, anywhere on any given night.