LeBron James took one step inside the NBA’s small midcourt logo, picked up his dribble and rose for a heat check on behalf of the entire Lakers team.
Of course, he made it.
LeBron’s DEEP 3-pointer gave the Lakers 91 points in just 27 minutes. From there, Los Angeles cruised to a 135-115 win over Trail Blazers in Game 4 Monday. Unfortunately, the rest of the game had a couple bumps, Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis leaving due to injury.
The status of Lillard, who hurt his right knee, is unclear as the teams head into Game 5 Wednesday. With the Lakers up 3-1, the first-round series could end there. Teams leading a best-of-seven series 3-1 have won 96% of the time, including 60% of the time in Game 5.*
*Unlike most teams leading 3-1, Los Angeles will not have homecourt advantage in Game 5, as games are being played in the Disney World bubble.
After losing Game 1, the Lakers have steadily rounded into form.
LeBron (30 points on 12 shots, 10 assists, six rebounds) was unstoppable. Davis (15 points, five rebounds, five assists and two blocks in 18 minutes) was excellent before exiting with back spasms. The supporting cast hit shots, at least temporarily alleviating a worry from early in the series.
The Lakers – wearing their “Black Mamba” uniforms on Kobe Bryant Day (8/24) – shot 67% on 2-pointers and 44% on 3-pointers. And that included letting their foot off the gas through a lengthy garbage time.
Los Angeles methodically picked apart Portland’s overmatched defense. When the Trail Blazers went big, the Lakers used their speed and outside shooting. When the Trail Blazers went smaller, the Lakers attacked the rim.
The Lakers also tightened their defense, jumping to a 15-0 lead.
Portland – led by Jusuf Nurkic (20 points, 13 rebounds, four assists) – scored fine after that. But it was too late.
It’s getting to be too late in the entire series – especially with Lillard’s health questionable.