Three takeaways: Portland Trail Blazers steal Game 1 vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images) /

The Portland Trail Blazers caught fire in the fourth quarter to steal a game vs. the Los Angeles Lakers, capitalizing on a rough shooting night for the No. 1 seed.

Folks, Charles Barkley was right. The former big man spent the entire pre-game show preaching a win for the No. 8-seeded Trail Blazers, but Chuck had his broom out at the buzzer, as Portland stole a 100-93 win.

Damian Lillard hit six threes on his way to 34 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Jusuf Nurkic earned a tidy double-double in just the first quarter.

Hassan Whiteside had perhaps the most impressive performance though, as his late-game defensive heroics seriously shifted the momentum; the centre ended up with 5 blocks, including one with 3 minutes to go that led to a Lillard three-pointer.

Here are three takeaways from the win.

Whiteside turns up

An engaged Hassan Whiteside could is a dangerous, dangerous weapon off the bench for the Portland Trail Blazers. In this kind of series, especially.

With the Lakers size in the paint, Whiteside’s rim-protection looked to be a key factor to Portland’s chances, and Whiteside made that difference tonight.

The center worked his way to seven points, eight rebounds and five blocks off the bench, with two of those rejections coming in the final few minutes. Whiteside was focused, engaged and constantly challenged shots at the rim. Anthony Davis was 8-of-24 this evening, and Whiteside certainly played a part.

Too many offensive rebounds, too many open looks

The Blazers deserved this game tonight for that fourth quarter alone, but they were fortunate to be in that position.

The Lakers had their chances this evening, and will not play this badly again. In the first half especially, Portland didn’t actually defend that well, and gave up a great deal of open looks on the perimeter. LA shot 5-of-31 from three, a stat which will probably not repeat itself.

Eventually, the Lakers will start knocking down shots- if they had done tonight, they probably beat the Portland Trail Blazers by double digits. Portland must do a better job of closing the shooter.

The Lakers offensive rebounding was another factor that should concern Terry Stotts. While the Portland Trail Blazers only lost the overall rebound battle by five, the Lakers had 17 offensive rebounds (compared to Portland’s five), and just like the three-pointers, they will eventually start converting these boards into second-chance points.

Portland has the firepower to win this series


In the fourth quarter, they went 6-of-10 from three, and we saw a little bit of everything on the offensive end. Dame from the logo. A couple of tough CJ buckets. The late-game Melo catch and shoot three that is seemingly becoming a mandatory exercise for the Bubble Blazers. Gary Trent Jr shot poorly but got himself on the act, hitting a clutch triple over the extended arm of AD.

Charles Barkley said it best after the game. If Lillard has a bad game, the Blazers can still score enough to win. Same with McCollum. Same with Melo. Same with Nurkic. This team has the ability to light it up from deep, and lately everything seems to be coming together in the fourth quarter.

We can talk about the Lakers playing poorly, but keep it consistent- the Blazers didn’t shoot the ball particularly well either.  Carmelo Anthony was 3-of-11, Nurk was 4-of-11, Trent Jr was 2-of-8. CJ got it going late, but struggled for much of the game.

LeBron and co will only get better, but we can expect the same from Portland. So, strap in Rip City. This team can win this series.

Next. Melo, LeBron speak on Damian Lillard's greatness. dark