The Portland Trail Blazers brought their momentum and form from the seeding games to the playoffs, stunning the top-seed Los Angeles Lakers with a 100-93 Game 1 victory.
It was the Los Angeles franchise's first postseason appearance since 2013 and also, the playoff debut as Lakers, for both LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
However, Damian Lillard stole the show. He led the way with a game-high tally of 34 points as the Blazers, playing without Zach Collins, overcame a historic game from LeBron James to take the 1-0 series lead.
Here are the biggest takeaways from this exciting contest:
Lillard starts hot, takes over late
Having played nearly every game of the seeding games schedule with playoff intensity, the Blazers looked locked in during the first quarter. They held their biggest lead of 16 in the opening 12 minutes and finished the period with a 11-point lead (36-25).
They were led by Lillard's 15 points (5-of-6 FG) and Jusuf Nurkic's double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. As a team, Portland shot 12-of-23 from the field and assisted on eight of their 12 made field goals during the period.
Nurk dime to Dame 👀 pic.twitter.com/rW9TPFsqMM- Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) August 19, 2020
On the other hand, the Lakers' regular rotation of players hadn't played a meaningful game in nearly a week and it showed in the first quarter, but they bounced back with a 13-1 run in the second quarter. Since then, the game never got away from either team before Lillard took over late.
Over the final 7:37, the Blazers came from a six down (84-78) to win it by seven courtesy of a 22-9 run. Their All-Star point guard scored or assisted on 14 of those 22 points, including a couple of long-range 3-pointers.
ARE U SERIOUS pic.twitter.com/8sAiHy2Hj2- Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) August 19, 2020
Lillard, who received plenty of help from this teammates, also finished with five rebounds, five assists, and was a team-high +19 in his 43 minutes of action.
Nurkic finished with 16 points, 15 rebounds, and three assists in 33 minutes. CJ McCollum chipped in with 21 points, while Hassan Whiteside came up big in his 25 minutes off the bench - seven points, eight rebounds, five blocks, and a +13.
Carmelo Anthony, who continued his run of knocking down clutch triples in the bubble, with one in this game, recorded 11 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists.
LeBron James' historic game
In his first playoff game for the Lakers, LeBron James made history by becoming the first NBA player ever to record at least 20 points, 15 rebounds, and 15 assists in a playoff game.
LeBron James is the first player in #NBAPlayoffs history to record 20+ PTS, 15+ REB, and 15+ AST in a game. pic.twitter.com/r0oIf49b7Q- NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) August 19, 2020
In 41 minutes of action, he registered 23 points, 17 rebounds, and 16 assists. His assists tally is a playoff career-high and the most by a Laker in a playoff game since Magic Johnson had 15 in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals.
The game was also his 24th career playoff triple-double and the 22nd (regular season + playoffs) as a Lakers, passing Kobe Bryant for the third-most in franchise history. He also became the second player in franchise history after Magic Johnson to record a playoff triple-double in their post-season debut for the franchise.
Lakers' offensive woes
After James, Anthony Davis was the Lakers' biggest contributor with 28 points and 11 rebounds in 39 minutes, but the team was a -20 when he was on the floor.
While the Brow made 12-of-17 from the free-throw line, he struggled to knock it down from the field. In fact, all of the Lakers did. While Davis shot 8-of-24 from the field and 0-of-5 from 3-point range, the Lakers knocked down just five 3-pointers on 32 attempts (15.6%) as a team.
The Lakers shot 5-32 from three tonight.- StatMuse (@statmuse) August 19, 2020
That's the second worst 3P% in a playoff game by any team with at least 30 three-point attempts in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/5yWeBDvB95
The Lakers' struggles from long range were seen earlier in the bubble, as they were the worst 3-point shooting team among the 22 during the seeding games.
What's worse, the team also faltered in an aspect of the game it dominated during the regular season - fastbreak points (2nd). In this game, however, the Lakers shot 7of-26 (26.9%) in transition. Their 19 misses are the most since the stat was tracked by Second Spectrum in 2013-14.
They did dominate the game in paint scoring, 50-28, but they've got to have shots falling from long-distance to find their offensive rhythm. Their struggles meant the Blazers had restricted their opponent to under 100 points for the first time since Jan. 7th.
Both teams battle it out once again, in a couple of days, for Game 2 on August 21st at 6:30 a.m. IST.
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