damian-lillard-scores-34-and-blazers-beat-lakers-in-game-1

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Damian Lillard had 34 points and the Portland Trail Blazers spoiled LeBron James’ first playoff appearance for the Los Angeles Lakers with a 100-93 victory on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the teams’ playoff series.

James had 23 points, 17 rebounds and 15 assists for this 24th postseason triple-double. His assists were a career playoff high.

Jusuf Nurkic had 16 points and 15 rebounds for Portland, which led by as many as 16 points in the first half. The Lakers narrowed the advantage to 57-56 at the break and stayed close the rest of the way.

Trailing 78-75 going into the final period, the Lakers tied it 78-78 on Kyle Kuzma’s 3-pointer. James’ layup gave Los Angeles the lead, and Kuzma added a pair of free throws and another layup to extend it to 84-78.

Lillard’s 3-pointer tied it at 87 with 5:46 to go and CJ McCollum’s floater gave Portland the lead.

After Danny Green’s layup tied it again for Los Angeles, Lillard nailed a 3-pointer. Anthony Davis’ dunk cut the Lakers’ deficit to 95-93, but Gary Trent Jr. made a 3-pointer that put Portland up 98-93 before Nurkic dunked to all but seal it.

Portland won the first play-in postseason NBA game since 1956, beating Memphis 126-122 on Saturday to make the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. The Blazers were among three teams with losing overall records to make the bubble playoffs. No team below .500 had advanced to the postseason since 2015.

The Blazers were without forward Zach Collins because of inflammation in his left ankle. Wenyen Gabriel started in his place.

“I like his energy, particularly at the defensive end,” head coach Terry Stotts said about Gabriel. “I like his length and athleticism. When you have a starting lineup with Dame, CJ, Melo and Nurk, I think…

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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