LeBron James’ 38 point-performance in game three of the Lakers’ series over the Blazers led to a 116-108 victory on Saturday inside the Orlando bubble. After James scored just 10 points in the second game, he bounced back to give the Lakers a 2-1 lead in the series.
“I loved his game. He was in attack mode,” said coach Frank Vogel. “We encouraged him to be aggressive shooting over the top too and he obviously knocked down four three’s.”
The Lakers trailed for much of the first half as the team committed 12 turnovers and missed 13 free throws. Despite the sloppy start, James led all scorers at halftime with 22 points.
LeBron James describes his relationship with AD: “There’s no ego.” James said that they both want each other “to succeed on and off the floor.” #Lakeshow
— Laurantine (@LoJoMedia) August 23, 2020
“I didn’t want him to just carry the team the entire time,” James’ co-pilot Anthony Davis stated. “I wanted to take some pressure off of him.”
Blazers’ CJ McCollum came out to a hot start including a buzzer-beater at the half to extend Portland’s lead to four points, 57-53. McCollum led the Blazers with 20 first-half points as Damian Lillard added 19 points.
The Lakers opened up the second half with a 12-0 run as James went to the bench. Davis came alive in the third quarter after scoring six points on three shot attempts in the first half. He scored 23 of his 29 points in the second half.
“He didn’t let missed free throws get him down,” Danny Green said. ”Eventually he started knocking down the mid-range, started getting in rhythm.”
Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony got into a shooting rhythm with 13 third-quarter points finding the mid-range game as well.
The Lakers outscored the Blazers 40-29 in the third quarter as they earned their biggest lead of the game. The Blazers came back within three points to start the fourth quarter. Blazers’ big man Jusuf Nurkic soared to the rim for a dunk on a defensive breakdown by the Lakers. It would be one of the few offensive sparks the Blazers saw in the final quarter. The Lakers’ defensive play to close out the game rendered the Blazers to shoot 33.3 percent from the field.
Rajon Rondo was inactive for the third game due to back spasms. With Rondo sidelined, Alex Caruso contributed to the Lakers in their victory over the Blazers. He added 10 points and dished seven assists with four rebounds on the night.
“The number one thing it does is, is it allows LeBron to be off the ball some which is important to our offense and just sustaining his freshness throughout 48 minutes,” said Vogel. “Rajon has been sort of that guy in the second unit throughout the year. We’ve missed him. Hopefully, we get him back soon, but in the meantime tonight Alex did a great job doing it, setting up AD.”
Rondo was on the team’s active roster for the game, but just minutes before tip-off, it was amended that the Lakers’ point guard would not play.
Vogel said the Lakers do not have a definitive date on Rondo’s return. The Lakers will attempt to take a 3-1 lead in the season series on Monday.