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Hot shooting from LeBron James and Lakers ices Trail Blazers in blowout

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) reacts with forward Kyle Kuzma (0) in the first half of Game 4.
LeBron James reacts after a play during the Lakers’ 135-115 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals on Monday.
(Kim Klement / Associated Press)

LeBron James dribbled the basketball up court on the fast break early in the third quarter, pulled up from 36 feet and drilled a three-pointer, a smile crossing his face, his head bobbing after the ball settled into the nets.

Yeah, James was feeling that good about his shot.

So were all the Lakers, for that matter, their shots falling in Game 4 of the first-round playoff series like rain drops.

The Lakers simply shot down the Portland Trail Blazers on their way to a 135-115 rout Monday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla., on a night Los Angeles honored Kobe Bryant by wearing the Black Mamba jersey and a patch with the No. 2 that represented the number his daughter Gianna wore from her basketball playing days.

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Kobe, Gianna and seven others died in a tragic helicopter crash in January.

James did his part to celebrate them both by putting on a shooting exhibition.

He missed just two of his 10 shots, just one of his five three-point attempts and two of his eight free throws. He completed his night with 30 points, 10 assists and six rebounds in just 28 minutes of play.

“We want to get better every game,” James said on a videoconference call with reporters late Monday night. “We’re seeing things that we can do better. The most important thing we’ve done in this series is we’ve taken our in-between games film sessions, our meetings and we’ve applied it to that next day.

“We look at film, we watch film. We know it’s not that much practice time and you really can’t get on the floor too much because you’re playing every other day. That next day is kind of a recovery day and things of that nature. But our minds are sharp and our minds are firing in our film sessions and that’s been huge for our ballclub so far.”

The Lakers came out sizzling and just kept knocking down shot after shot after shot, finishing the game shooting 56.3% from the field, their highest field-goal percentage in the playoffs since making 57.7% of their shots against the Phoenix Suns on May 19, 2010. They made 43.6% of their shots from the three-point arc in opening a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference series.

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In the first half, when the Lakers opened an 80-51 lead, they shot 62.2% from the field, their best mark in any half of a postseason game since April 27, 2010, when they made 64.9% of their first-half shots against Oklahoma City.

The Lakers shot a blistering 57.9% from three-point range in the first half.

That shotmaking is what allowed the Lakers to open a 15-0 lead and put the Trail Blazers in a hole in which they were never able to recover from.

James got help from many of his teammates.

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Anthony Davis, who left the game early in the third quarter because of back spasms, had 18 points, five rebounds and five assists in just 18 minutes.

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Guard Danny Green had his best shooting night of the series, going five for eight from the field and three for four from three-point range in scoring 14 points.

Guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 12 points on five-for-eight shooting, two for four on three-pointers.

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Kyle Kuzma came off the bench to provide the Lakers with 18 points on six-for-12 shooting, five for nine on three-pointers.

“The guys are making shots,” Davis said via videoconference on Monday night. “When we’re making shots from the perimeter, from inside the paint, it opens the floor for everyone.”

Turner reported from Los Angeles.


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