LeBron James missed a buzzer-beater to tie the game as the Los Angeles Lakers lost 106-104 to the Portland Trail Blazers, bringing the Los Angeles team’s season record to 0-3.
It was another night to forget for Russell Westbrook, who continued his two-point run against the LA Clippers on Thursday with 10 points and two missed shots in the final seconds of Sunday’s game.
The two missed points were immediately punished by a brilliant Damian Lillard, whose three points took the game away from the Lakers.
James, who finished the night with 31 points, eight assists, eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks, refused to criticize his teammate.
“I’m not here to do that,” James said after the game. “[Westbrook] got some good looks and wasn’t able to knock them down. Defensively, we couldn’t get multiple saves in a row.
After going up 10-2, the Lakers quickly ceded control of the game, ending the first quarter eight points behind.
Despite a strong defensive performance, the Lakers were helpless from outside the paint, finishing the first half 1-16 from three-pointers and down 55-48.
They retired him in the third quarter to come back 78-83 through Anthony Davis who dominated the paint, scoring 10 points.
But the Lakers couldn’t keep their lead. In the final five minutes, the Trail Blazers erased an eight-point gap to win with Lillard, who was down a game-high 41 points, punishing every mistake the Lakers made to score 12 in the final quarter.
After his three-point drop put the Trail Blazers ahead by two, James responded with an easy dunk. But he was immediately beaten by Jerami Grant, who turned James and beat Davis with his layup to put the Trail Blazers 104-106.
James attempted a drop from his side, but with Lillard blocking well, he missed the decisive two-pointer.
Despite the frustrating result, James had another record-breaking night by tying Karl Malone for most 20-point games in the NBA at 1,134.
But the night was all about Lillard, who had back-to-back 41-point games and extended the Trail Blazers’ winning start. at three games.
Lillard is averaging 34 points, making 47.1% from his shots and 36.4% from three-pointers.
“Obviously Dame is back and he’s putting the league on notice,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said after the game. “Lady was Lady on the stretch.”
Despite the loss, the game showed an improved performance as the Lakers try to forget last season’s misfortunes in which they failed to make the playoffs.
Davis was nearly unstoppable in the paint, James was breaking more records, and their defense was the best in a long time.
It’s out of the paint that they’re abandoned, and Westbrook isn’t the only one out of reach. In three games, the team is averaging 21.2 percent from three-point range and had just six of 33 attempts against the Trail Blazers.
The Lakers’ rocky start to the season continues as they travel to Denver to face the Nuggets who beat the Warriors and look like one of the best teams in the West.