The Lakers were riding high coming into their Monday night matchup against the Portland Trailblazers. Winners of their previous two games while scoring an average of 133 points, the Lakers looked to be hitting on all cylinders. The World Champions looked good at the start, building a 13 point lead in the 1st quarter. The Blazers responded with a run in the 2nd quarter however and took an 8 point lead of their own. In fact, this game came down to a game of quarters. The Lakers took the 1st and 3rd, while the Blazers won the 2nd and 4th. The problem for the Lakers is that when the dust settled and the game ended, the Blazers had the lead.
The Lakers are a loaded team in the 2020-21 season. Last season if either LeBron James or Anthony Davis was off the Lakers chances of securing a W dimmed. This season, that is not the case. Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma are all averaging in double digits and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope isn’t that far behind. This game wasn’t lost because one of their big 2 didn’t play great, although AD had a sub-par game for him with 13 pts and 10 rbs, this game was lost due to missed opportunities. Opportunities that were made when presented to the Trailblazers. The Lakers missed shots they needed, failed to gather rebounds they needed and failed to make stops when needed. The Blazers took better advantage of their opportujnities than the Lakers did.
Star of the Game
Never easy or fun to pick a star of a game in a losing effort, but Dennis Schroder had himself a ballgame. When the season started I felt the Lakers were going to miss Rajon Rondo‘s playmaking. Last season Rondo filled that void when LBJ got some rest. It looked to me that this seasons Lakers team would have problems when LeBron got his rest. Yes, Marc Gasol is a playmaker and has proven to be very good in that role, but he wouldn’t have the ball in his hands as much as a guard would. Schroder is averaging 6 assists so far this season and looking every bit the part of playmaker.
Tonight he kept the Lakers in the game while participating in a game within the game with Damian Lillard. It wasn’t clear what happened, but those two seemed to be going at each other with Schroder holding his own and more against the perennial All-Star. He finished with 24 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds.
No real concerns come out of this game. Sure, its never fun to lose, but no team in history has won them all. This was a good game against a good team after playing a game last night. The Lakers will have a target on their back all season being the defending Champs. Teams will play their best against them and losses will come. So, while there are no big concerns, there are some minor ones.
Kyle Kuzma has all the potential in the world. He continues to lack the consistency that could/should catapult him from where he is to All-Star level. Coming off a game where he has 20 points on 8-12 shooting the hope was he would come close to those numbers again tonight. He did not. Kuz finished with 6 points while making only 2 of 9 shots. That and the aforementioned subpar game for Anthony Davis are the only minor concerns after tonight’s game
Not sure we can call him a surprise anymore, but Talen Horton-Tucker continues to amaze. The 20 year old’s numbers tonight don’t “wow” you, he had 6 pts, 2 rbs and a steal, but if you watched the game and saw how he got those points, you might just say “Wow!”. He is so crafty and is unique in that he is a young player who likes to drive to the rim. He seems to live off that contact that others tend to shy away from. That and those long arms and passion he plays with make it hard to take your eyes off him when he’s on the court.
Jose has written for Bleacher Report, Clipperholics, OC Weekly and wrote a series of articles covering the 2010 NBA Finals for the LA Times. He lives in Southern California and is excited to watch thePeachBasket grow!