Final score: Trail Blazers 128, Lakers 119
Portland Trail Blazers
- The Blazers went into this season committed to shooting more three-pointers. They did exactly that on Thursday, and it paid off. Last season, Portland averaged 28 three-point attempts and 10 makes per game. In this season’s opener they made 13 out of 37 treys.
- Lost amidst all the hype for LeBron James’ Lakers debut was that Damian Lillard — who plays everything from basketball to Spades with a chip on his shoulder — hasn’t won a game since April. And he was probably not feeling the idea of playing second fiddle in his home opener. Lillard reminded everyone that he’s a superstar, too, putting up 28 points in the win.
- The unexpected star of the night was Nik Stauskas, who came off the bench for 24 points (5 threes). The Blazers didn’t have the cap space or the pull to land another star player in the offseason, but less-splashy additions like Stauskas and Seth Curry could be big for a team that needed to get more shooters.
- Jake Layman was a revelation for the Blazers in the preseason and was rewarded with a spot in the starting lineup for the regular season opener. His three points in 14 minutes may have been a come-back-to-Earth moment.
- The best part of Al-Farouq Aminu’s loud pre-game outfit was the reaction of the Moda Center employees who just acted like that was totally normal. The worst part of Aminu’s outfit was Aminu’s outfit.
- Zach Collins had 6 points, 6 rebounds and 6 blocks. There’s some kind of “mark of the beast” / “he was a beast” joke in there, but I can’t quite find it.
Los Angeles Lakers
- LeBron looked like he was going to have an epic night, posting 18 points in the first half with a couple of thunderous dunks. Then he went scoreless in the third quarter — it seemed like he was purposely taking a back seat to see what his new teammates can do — and couldn’t bring them back against Portland’s offensive barrage in the fourth quarter. LeBron finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
- The Lakers simply couldn’t make threes. They went 7-for-30 beyond the arc (23 percent). All during the offseason we heard talk that L.A. was going to take a totally different approach than the Warriors-style everyone else is trying to emulate, but on Thursday they didn’t look too different from LeBron’s Cleveland teams — living and dying by the long ball.
- The Lakers were at their best when they were attacking the basket and letting LeBron and Rajon Rondo be the brilliant playmakers that they are.
- Speaking of playmakers, what is Lonzo Ball’s role on this team? He seemed like a man without a plan. If Rondo and LeBron are going to be the primary ball-handlers, Lonzo might want to carve out a Shaun Livingston-type of role for himself. He’s too talented to play 19 forgettable minutes with 7 points and 1 assist.
- Brandon Ingram (16 points) has these stretches where he looks like he deserved all of those Kevin Durant comparisons he got in high school and college. On this night, that happened in the third quarter when he went on a run where he looked almost unstoppable. If he can do that in the fourth quarter, L.A. will be very dangerous.