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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Lakers Outpace Trail Blazers; D’Angelo Russell Shines in Dominant Performance


The Portland Trail Blazers’ dreams of a rare three-game win streak died with a 134-110 easy beatdown by the Los Angeles Lakers last night in Tinsel Town.

The Trail Blazers got down double-digits in the first quarter, before storming back quickly behind the stellar play of Malcolm Brogdon. When the Lakers went up double-digits again in the second, Portland and Brogdon couldn’t pull off the same trick twice. The Trail Blazers stayed close enough through most of the game to keep the starters in, but never got within nine points again.

Portland couldn’t stop LeBron James, as the King went for 28 points, five assists and five rebounds. The Trail Blazers really couldn’t stop veteran point guard D’Angelo Russell, who lit up the opposition with a barrage of 3-pointers on his way to 34 points and eight assists.

Brogdon was Portland’s best and most consistent performer, going for 23 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Anfernee Simons scored 19 points and Jerami Grant added 17. Duop Reath and Jabari Walker played solid games, scoring 16 and 12, respectively.

If you missed any of the action, here’s how the game went down.

First Quarter

The Trail Blazers opened the game with some decent looks, but couldn’t convert, leading to a Rui Hachimura 3, an and-1 from James and a 6-0 early Lakers’ lead. Grant helped settle the Blazers down with a vintage midrange jumper from the top, but the Blazers stayed cold and the Lakers stayed hot in front of their home crowd. When James swished a 3-pointer from the left wing, it was 17-6 Lakers, prompting Chauncey Billups to call his first timeout at the 7:52 mark. James scored eight of those early Laker points on perfect shooting from the field and the free throw line.

Coming out of the timeout, Billups inserted forward Toumani Camara into the lineup for Walker. Reath had already checked into the game for Deandre Ayton after the center picked up two early fouls.

While Portland still couldn’t get many stops in the lane, the offense picked it up with solid movement on the ATO leading to an Anfernee Simons’ finish over LeBron. Then the steady Brogdon got on the board with five straight points, including a physical drive on Austin Reeves. Soon the defense caught up, forcing more jumpers and creating turnovers thanks to deflections from the lengthy Camara. It also helped that James took a seat at the 4:46 mark.

With the King sitting, a 9-0 run capped off by a Reath 3 and two Brogdon free throws tied the game up at 24-24. The Blazers were in business! Brogdon was the MVP of the first quarter for Portland, registering 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting and two assists.

When Brogdon finally went to the bench in the closing minutes after his lengthy first shift, the Portland offense grounded to a halt. A brief zone look flummoxed the Blazers into a deep airball from Simons as the shot clock expired. Reath also turned the ball over leading to an easy runout for LA. Scoot Henderson didn’t do much in his first quarter stint, electing to play it safe and swing the ball around the arc rather than attack the D. This was a theme for him in the first half.

The offensive dysfunction helped LA go on a 13-5 run during this battle primarily between the benches. A drive from Simons in the final seconds brought the score to 36-31 Lakers after one.

Second Quarter

More offensive dysfunction started the second for Portland. The Blazers seemed lost without Brogdon or Grant on the floor, and Simons had a difficult time holding onto the ball. Two of Simons’ passes got intercepted, with one leading to a breakaway dunk and the other ending in a 3 from D’Angelo Russell. The Trail Blazers trailed 47-36. Timeout Billups.

The Lakers kept the pressure on, even with Ayton, Grant and Brogdon returning to the floor. James also kept the pressure on, nailing a pullup 3 after a failed Ayton post-up. Another runout for LA off a turnover brought the Harlem Globetrotters to Tinsel Town. Russell bounced the ball high off the floor to set up a LeBron alley oop slam. LA led 58-42 with 4:46 left. Here is where I say my two least favorite words once again: timeout Billups.

Simons hit a badly needed 3 when the Lakers were on the verge of running away with a 17-point lead. Then Camara got an easy slam. The little 5-0 run calmed things down some, as Portland trailed by just 12. That seemed like a victory given how the tide had been turning.

That momentary relief didn’t snowball into some big run, with LA pushing the lead back to 17 in short order. By the time halftime rolled around, Portland trailed 67-54. The game was within reach, but LA held the momentum.

Alongside Brogdon, Reath and Walker provided solid production. Outside of those three, nobody had it going consistently through two.

Third Quarter

The Trail Blazers came out of the locker room with some fight. Grant and Simons took initiative with two hard-nosed drives. Then Simons set up Ayton for a beautiful lob slam to cut the lead to nine, but two consecutive triples from Reeves and Russell snuffed out that momentum quick, pushing the deficit right back to 84-68.

The Lakers began hitting 3s at a decent rate and finding layups again in transition. Already trailing by double-digits, that was a tough combo for Portland to stomach, even with some improved offensive production. An inexplicable foul on James by Simons led to an easy and-1 and a 20-point lead for LA with 5:46 left in the third. Not good.

A few minutes later, when a likely steal by Matisse Thybulle somehow bounced around and turned into a logo 3 from Russell, pushing the deficit to 22, the hill looked very steep to climb.

Yet, Portland wasn’t ready to turn the game into a Rip City Remix showcase just yet. Brogdon canned a 3 and then got three the old-fashioned way to close out the quarter, bringing the score to 103-87.

Fourth Quarter

Looking for Blazers magic in the fourth quarter? LeBron certainly wasn’t. James started things off with a left-hand hammer and then cashed a 3. Still, the Blazers kept up with the firepower. Scoot got his first field goal of the game to drop and Simons netted a 3.

But once again, Russell played spoiler to any Blazers run possibly coming. The vet got the shooter’s roll on a right wing 3 that initially hit the front end before bouncing in. Then he quickly fired a 3 from the top of the key off an offensive rebound, running giddily to the Lakers bench as Billups signaled for timeout. The score read 114-95. With 9:02 remaining, time for magic was running out.

Later on, Russell tried out his best Pistol Pete Maravich impression with a fake behind-the-back pass to James on the break to score an easy 2 at the cup. The nifty fake drew ooos from the LA crowd and pushed the LA lead over 20 again with just over six minutes left. It was truly Russell’s night.

Soon, both teams emptied their benches for some extended…lets call them developmental minutes. Rookie guard Taze Moore, Portland’s latest 10-day signing, made his Trail Blazers debut wearing No. 76. Moore got his first NBA points on a slam with less than two minutes remaining.

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