After succumbing to a shock loss in the series opener, the LA Lakers have thoroughly dominated the Portland Trail Blazers. On Saturday, they took Game 5 131-122 to make it four straight wins and eliminated Terry Stotts' side from the Western Conference picture of the NBA Playoffs.
LeBron James was at the heart of this decimation as he recorded yet another triple-double to torch the Portland Trail Blazers. CJ McCollum tried to hold his own against the LA Lakers with a 36-point game but that wasn't enough to prevent his side from losing. Damian Lillard's absence was felt largely by the Portland Trail Blazers as they crashed out of the NBA Playoffs.
Without further ado, let us look into the five talking points from Game 5 between Portland Trail Blazers and LA Lakers.
#1 The shorthanded Portland Trail Blazers come up with a spirited performance
It was always going to be tough for the Portland Trail Blazers to overcome the LA Lakers without Damian Lillard, but they at least made the Purple and Gold sweat. While CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony led the charge with a combined 63 points between the two, three other players managed to score in double digits.
Gary Trent Jr. was unable to find his rhythm all series but managed 16 points on Saturday night. Jusuf Nurkic had his usual double-double while Anfernee Simons looked good for his 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field.
Simons stole the show in particular with his variety of skills. He brought out the stepback three, had the pace to drive to the basket, and his tenacity allowed him to effect four steals. The rookie will be the one to look out for in the next season.
#2 LA Lakers still struggling with LeBron James off the court
In what has been a recurring theme for them all season, the LA Lakers failed to keep the same offensive flow going with LeBron James on the bench. LeBron's ability to dictate the play and find the open man makes it easier for the rest of the team to create offense.
Whenever LeBron James wasn't in the game tonight, the likes of McCollum and Anthony found the extra spring in their steps and managed to go on scoring runs with Portland not conceding as many points.
The LA Lakers will be facing much tougher teams than the Portland Trail Blazers in the subsequent rounds of the NBA Playoffs so they must learn to limit the damage when LeBron is not on the court for them.
#3 Injuries the undoing of the Portland Trail Blazers
If the Portland Trail Blazers were at full strength for this series, they certainly would've given the LA Lakers a better challenge. Their best young prospect in Zach Collins didn't feature in the playoffs only while Damian Lillard had to miss the final game with a knee injury.
CJ McCollum played against the LA Lakers with a fractured back and still managed to be so good. Trevor Ariza would've been a great addition too, had he not decided to sit out the restart. Even today, Hassan Whiteside dislocated his finger and could only play limited minutes.
The Portland Trail Blazers still might not boast of the best roster in the league when fully fit, but they would certainly offer more than what they did against the LA Lakers in the first round.
#4 Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James go at each other all night
Carmelo Anthony had guarded LeBron James all series but tonight seemed a bit more special. Both these legends of the game were scoring at a high clip and LeBron got to defend Melo on several possessions as well.
It seemed like a classic contest from the days past with both Melo and LeBron going at each other all night. Anthony finished with 27 points and 7 rebounds while James had 36 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.
This on-court rivalry goes back to high school for these two players and let's hope that we can see more of it in the coming season.
#1 Anthony Davis dominates the paint against the Portland Trail Blazers
It was another phenomenal night for Anthony Davis who gobbled up all the chances that LeBron James created for him. Even without the helping hand of LeBron, AD had a physical edge against the Portland Trail Blazers' frontcourt and allowed the LA Lakers to dominate the paint.
Davis ended the game with 43 points on 14-of-18 shooting, his best tally for this series. He even managed to drain four treys from downtown and his ability to stretch the floor continues to come in handy for the LA Lakers. Whiteside playing limited minutes working in AD's favor who dominated Mario Hezonja and Jusuf Nurkic throughout the game.
Published 30 Aug 2020, 11:14 IST