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The Blazers Pulled Off A Game 1 Win Over The Lakers Behind Another Huge Game From Damian Lillard

For the second time in one day, the 8-seed took a Game 1 off of a 1-seed. The Orlando Magic stunned the basketball world when they beat the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday afternoon, and that same evening, a less surprising result happened: The Portland Trail Blazers continued their torrid run of form in the NBA’s Bubble to take down the Los Angeles Lakers, 100-93. It was a tense affair, but the Blazers relied on their tried-and-true formula for success to come out on top in the Bubble: Give Damian Lillard the basketball and watch what happens.

The Blazers looked fantastic during the game’s first frame. Between Lillard doing the stuff that made him must-watch during the seeding games (15 points) and a double-double for Jusuf Nurkic (10 points, 10 boards), Portland’s offense was humming during the opening 12 minutes. They led by as many as 16 points and held a 36-25 lead at the end of the quarter.

It also helped that L.A. was ice cold. They shot 30 percent from the field, missed all eight of their attempts from three, and while Anthony Davis was the leading scorer with nine points, he was 1-for-8 from the field.

The two teams switched places during the second quarter. Portland couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat, hitting three shots from the field over the entirety of the second, the first of which came at the 4:56 mark in the quarter. Of their 21 points, eight came from the field and the rest from the free throw line. The Lakers, meanwhile, found their groove early. The team ripped off a 13-1 run while Lillard and Davis were on the bench, with James orchestrating the attack by scoring or assisting on 12 of those.

While Portland competed for the entirety of the quarter, Los Angeles was able to find a bit of a rhythm and finally took the lead when James played a cheeky pass to Davis for a dunk.

Still, the Blazers took a 57-56 lead into the locker room, with Lillard unsurprisingly being the main reason why. He had 23 points on 6-for-11 shooting, while Carmelo Anthony scored eight and Nurkic had 14 points and 12 boards. The Lakers’ dynamic duo shouldered the load for them — Davis lived at the foul line, with 11 of his 21 points coming from the stripe, while pitching in seven boards. James’ metronomic ability to dictate a game’s tempo led to him having 12 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds at the half.

The offensive struggles for both teams continued in the third. The Blazers outscored the Lakers during the frame, 21-19, in something reminiscent of when the two teams would battle in the postseason in the early-00s. CJ McCollum wasn’t quite the scoring threat he can be during the first half, but dropped 11 on L.A. in the quarter.

Still, stars on both sides of the equation had highlight moments in the third. Davis showed off his ability to make things happen on both ends of the floor, while Lillard ended things with a flourish when he sliced through Los Angeles’ defense to set up a dunk for Hassan Whiteside.

The Lakers managed to get the lead early on in the fourth. A slow start for Portland led to Kyle Kuzma tying things with a triple before a bucket by James nudged them ahead shortly after. Lillard was eventually able to stop the 9-0 run L.A. found itself on to start the frame, knocking down his first bucket of the second half at the 7:37 mark. Before Dame Time could get going, though, James came right back with a triple of his own.

But this Blazers squad has been defined by its resiliency in the Bubble, and thanks to an 11-3 run in which Lillard canned a triple from 30 feet out to tie things up, they were able to go back up by two, 89-87.

Danny Green stopped the bleeding for a moment with a layup to tie things up, but thanks in big part to some stellar rim protection by Whiteside, Lillard threw a haymaker.

From there, the Blazer offense hit some gigantic shots, while the Lakers couldn’t quite find enough juice. Anthony and Gary Trent Jr. connected on a pair of triples, with Nurkic capping things off with an uncontested dunk as Los Angeles bizarrely opted to not foul down five.

The 34-point outing by Lillard, who pitched in five rebounds and five assists, led the way. Both Nurkic (16 points, 15 rebounds) and Anthony (11 points, 10 rebounds) had double-doubles, while McCollum went fo 21 points. Whiteside contributed off the bench, recording seven points, eight rebounds, and five blocks. The Lakers had monster games from James (23 points, 17 rebounds, 16 assists) and Davis (28 points, 11 rebounds), but the team struggled to hit shots all evening. That was particularly the case from three, where L.A. went 5-for-32 (15.6 percent).

The two teams will square off again on Tuesday evening on ESPN, with things tipping off at 9 p.m. EST.

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