The Trail Blazers Upset The Lakers In Game 1 Of Their First-Round Series Despite LeBron James' Historic Performance
With the Trail Blazers down by three points and 5 minutes and 46 seconds left in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Lakers, Damian Lillard made a 30-foot three-pointer to tie the score at 87-87.
He then started dancing to the song "Blow The Whistle."
Most eighth seeds aren't relaxed enough to take a moment off in a tight game. Most superstars can't afford to let their guard down for a second in a game against LeBron James.
But Lillard savored every moment of the Trail Blazers' 100-93 upset over the top-seeded Lakers on Tuesday.
Especially that one.
"They played the East Oakland anthem," Lillard, who finished with 34 points, said in his walk-off interview with TNT. "So it was only right that I acknowledge the East Oakland anthem and go dumb for a second."
If anything, that moment inspired the Lakers to go dumb.
The Trail Blazers went on to hit another three three-pointers in a row from Lillard, Carmelo Anthony and Gary Trent Jr. in the final 3 minutes and 13 seconds.
James said none of those three-pointers should've happened, even Lillard's incredible 36-foot shot from just inside the halfcourt logo.
"Obviously it was a big time shot, but it was a breakdown, it was a breakdown defensively," James said. "He makes big shots, he takes big shots. Commend him for that. The 'Melo three, that was a breakdown as well, we didn’t get the rotation correct. And same with the Gary Trent shot. We were slow on the rotation. So that’s things we can control."
It was a disappointing loss for the Lakers for many reasons, especially considering the type of performance James had.
James, 35, finished with 23 points, a career-playoff high 16 assists and 17 rebounds, becoming the first player in NBA history to have at least 20 points, 15 assists and 15 rebounds in a postseason game.
Still, it didn't go the Lakers' way.
"No frustration, because the game is the game, and we came here with a mindset to win," James said. "We didn’t take care of business, but we got another opportunity on Thursday to even the series and that’s my only mindset. I’m gonna go back to the hotel, watch some film tonight, lock in with the team tomorrow, prepare before the game on Thursday and get ready to play."
The Lakers trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half, but cut their deficit to one point at halftime, 57-56. It was a close game after that with six lead changes and seven ties, but the Trail Blazers were nearly pristine down the stretch.
Heading into Tuesday's game, they had one big advantage.
The Trail Blazers were used to this type of intensity.
"That team’s been playing basically Game 7s for the last two weeks and we’ve been trying to work guys in and playing games that don’t count in the standings," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. "That’s all behind us. That really doesn’t mean anything right now. We’ve got to execute and make shots down the stretch."
The Lakers' bubble shooting woes continued Tuesday as they were outshot from beyond the three-point line, 38.2 percent to 15.6 percent.
Vogel said that will turn around.
"Remain patient," Vogel said. "Trust the percentages, law of averages and continue to work with our guys on identifying the right shots and remaining calm."
This much is for sure.
Any questions about whether James could flip the switch for the postseason were answered Tuesday.
"This is different," he said. "I mean, we [are] in the bubble with no fans. But as far as me being locked in on the gameplan, that doesn’t change. Me going out and making plays, playing at a high level, trying to help our team win, that was the same. Nothing changes from that."
Now, the rest of the team just has to start making shots.
"He would’ve had over 20 assists if we knocked down threes at the rate that we’re capable of and at the rate we will," Vogel said.