The Los Angeles Lakers are now one win away from advancing to the Western Conference semi-finals after a convincing 135-115 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 4.
LeBron James was at his aggressive best, pouring in 30 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds, leading six Laker players to score in double figures on the night.
Eight Blazers players scored in double figures, led by 20 points and 13 rebounds from Jusuf Nurkic, while CJ McCollum added 18, Carmelo Anthony 16, and Damian Lillard and Hassan Whiteside 11 apiece.
Here are the key takeaways from today's game:
1. Playoff LeBron
After losing Game 1, the Lakers have kicked into gear and have looked every part the no.1 seed since.
James was on a mission in Game 4, piling up 30 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from the 3-point line - testing out his range with this deep triple in the third quarter.
LeBron pulls up from deep! 🎯🎯🎯 #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/PuH6LNMOu7- NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) August 25, 2020
James became the first Laker since Kobe Bryant to post back-to-back 30-point playoff double-doubles and the first player in NBA history to reach 7,000 playoff points! No other player has reached 6,000 playoff points.
2. Mamba Day
In honour of the late, great Kobe Bryant, the Lakers rocked their Mamba jerseys on 8/24, a date symbolising Bryant's two jersey numbers with the Lakers.
They opened this game on a 24-8 run, putting both of Bryant's numbers on the scoreboard, in a fitting tribute.
"When I looked up and saw we were up 24-8, I was like, okay, he's here in the building," LeBron James said post-game. "It's a beautiful, beautiful night for our franchise and something we will always remember - this moment."
Score: 24-8 💜💛- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 25, 2020
(📺: Spectrum SportsNet & TNT) pic.twitter.com/3zvLXPBpLa
With this triple, J.R. Smith tied Bryant for eighth on the NBA's all-time playoff 3-pointers made list with 292.
With this 3-pointer, JR Smith tied Kobe Bryant on the all-time list for playoff threes 🙏 @TheRealJRSmith pic.twitter.com/nCLVY3ghjQ- ESPN (@espn) August 25, 2020
3. Lakers find 3-point touch
After struggling to find their shooting rhythm during the seeding games, the Lakers today showed just how dangerous of a team they are when their three-ball is falling.
They shot 17-of-39 from the 3-point line in Game 4, setting a new playoff record, with seven different players connecting from deep, led by 5-of-9 from Kyle Kuzma. James added 4 triples, Danny Green 3, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 2.
HIGHLIGHTS: @kylekuzma splashes five of the Lakers' team playoff-record 17 treys 👌👌👌👌👌 pic.twitter.com/MHQSRzN8zl- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 25, 2020
The Lakers made 16 three-pointers on just five occasions during the regular season, with the last time coming in February. No better time to find their shooting touch than at the business end of the season.
4. Anthony Davis injury update
Anthony Davis checked out of the game with 9:21 remaining in the third quarter after suffering back spasms.
Davis exited the game with 18 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two blocks in just 18 minutes on court. 16 of those points came in the first quarter, marking a playoff career-high for points in a quarter for the big man.
The good news for Laker fans: Davis said post-game he expects to play in what could be a decisive Game 5 in a few days time.
"100%. No question I'll be playing in Game 5." @AntDavis23 with @LakersReporter on his status for the next game and tonight's special #Lakers win on Kobe Day. pic.twitter.com/t2KOK2negI- Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) August 25, 2020
5. Blazers running out of steam
After a grueling seeding games schedule which held playoff-like intensity for each game, the Blazers' have struggled to match that level beyond Game 1, thanks largely to the exhausting defensive effort from the Lakers.
On top of that, star guard Damian Lillard, who is already nursing a dislocated index finger, exited Game 4 in the third quarter with a knee injury.
Lillard appeared to injure his knee on a drive to the basket, grimacing in pain after planting his right foot. He went back to the locker room, returning to the court for a few possessions, before exiting the game for good with 5:18 to go.
He finished with 11 points on 3-of-9 shooting in 27 minutes and with the severity of the injury still unknown, he is set to undergo an MRI.
Yahoo Sources: Portland star Damian Lillard is undergoing an MRI on his right knee.- Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) August 25, 2020
Zach Collins is already out for the remainder of the post-season, while CJ McCollum has been nursing a fracture in his lower back.
6. Monster first half sets the tone
The Lakers raced out of the gates in Game 4, piling up 43 points in the first quarter and another 37 in the second to take an 80-51 half-time lead.
James was dominant in the second, scoring 14 of his 22 first-half points in the period.
The Lakers opened the second half on a 10-2 run and while the Blazers punched back with a 24-9 run of their own, the Lakers held a comfortable lead for the remainder of the game, with James sitting the entire fourth quarter.
7. What's next?
The teams will regroup ahead of a pivotal Game 5 clash on Thursday, August 27 at 6:30 a.m. IST.
You can catch that game on Sony Six and NBA League Pass.
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