Advertisement

Lakers know they can’t feel comfortable, especially with Damian Lillard lurking

Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard drives the ball against Lakers guard Alex Caruso.
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard drives the ball against Lakers guard Alex Caruso during Game 2 of NBA Western Conference quarterfinals on Thursday.
(Kevin C. Cox / Associated Press)

The 23-point beating the Lakers handed the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2 didn’t leave them with any extra gratification in the best-of-seven series.

It only left the Lakers tied at 1-1 in the Western Conference first-round series that resumes Saturday afternoon at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla.

Knowing how dangerous Portland is and how lethal its backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum can be, the Lakers said their intensity must remain high to win Game 3.

The Trail Blazers averaged 126 points in going 6-2 in the eight seeding games, the highest among the 22 teams. They shot 41.4% from three-point range, the third highest in the bubble. Lilliard led all scorers by averaging 37.6 points.

Advertisement

That is more than enough to keep the Lakers’ attention.

“We can’t take this as something to gloat about or celebrate about,” center JaVale McGee said late Thursday night. “We have to move on to the next game and come out with the same intensity from the jump.”

Lillard was diagnosed with a dislocated left ring finger, but he declared that he would play Saturday.

Advertisement

None of his coaches or teammates were surprised to hear that.

"It’s kind of what we expect,” coach Terry Stotts said. “I totally anticipated [Lillard saying that], unless it was a broken finger, and even then, that Dame has played through a lot of injuries and this being the playoffs, I don’t think it surprised anybody. But certainly it sets the tone for the rest of the team.”

Stotts said Lillard had been getting treatment all day and will have to wear a splint.

Advertisement

A look at how the top 14 picks might be made after the NBA set the lottery selections, with the Timberwolves getting the first pick.

Portland also got some bad injury news Friday. Starting forward Zach Collins is out for the rest of the season after sustaining a hairline stress fracture in his left ankle that will require surgery.

James reading more than scouting reports


A hallmark of LeBron James’ playoff mode is that when they begin he stays off social media and often shuts off his phone and starts reading more.

That’s changed this year. James can’t shut off his phone since he needs to keep in touch with his family. But over the last couple of days, the latter part of his routine returned in a public way.

James was photographed reading “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” as told to Alex Haley while on an exercise bike Wednesday. On Thursday, he read the book as he waited for coach Frank Vogel to finish his news conference, held it in his hands during his interview, and then went back to reading it after he finished while he waited for Anthony Davis’ interview to end.

Advertisement

Mike Conley hit seven three-pointers and scored 27 points in his first game back from quarantine, and Utah beat Denver 124-87 for a 2-1 series lead.

“I kinda just started couple of days ago,” James said. “But I’ve read a lot of notes over the years. This is my first time actually reading this from start to finish. Just a very, a very smart man. A very, very smart man. And basically, his words in the ‘60s and what was going on is actually what’s going on today still. Him understanding how powerful the Negro can be. He uses that word a lot. How powerful we are. But we have to unite and we have to be together and we have to stand strong because there’s always going to be obstacles.”

Turner reported from Los Angeles. Ganguli reported from Orlando, Fla.


Advertisement