Plenty of panic buttons have already been pushed among the wide swath of Los Angeles Lakers fans, but there doesn’t seem to be any alarm coming from LeBron James following the 0-2 start.
The Lakers will try to soothe their fan base and iron out some shooting woes when they host the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday afternoon.
The Lakers lost their season opener at the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, and then dropped their home opener to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.
The Lakers were much more competitive against the Clippers, but still shot 9 of 45 from 3-point distance (20 percent), putting them at 22.4 percent for the season.
“Our ball club is our ball club. I’m definitely not going to sit here and harp on what we can’t do every single game,” James said. “That’s not being a leader. What I know we can do is defend.”
The Lakers defended well against the Clippers, forcing 23 turnovers and collecting 13 steals.
“I love the way we’re playing basketball right now,” James said. “We’re sharing the ball offensively. We’re moving bodies. We’ll begin to knock down shots.”
The Lakers also seemed to dodge a bullet when Anthony Davis took a hard fall early in the third quarter against the Clippers. He sprang to his feet and finished the game, later telling reporters he’s “pretty sure” he’ll be OK.
Heading into this season, Davis has missed over 38 percent of the regular-season games since arriving in Los Angeles before the 2019-20 season because of injuries.
The Trail Blazers have won their first two games for the first time since 2018.
They beat the Phoenix Suns 113-111 in overtime on Friday behind 41 points from Damian Lillard, who received the biggest pat on the back for the shot he didn’t take.
Lillard gave the ball up to shooting guard Anfernee Simons in the closing seconds of overtime and he sank a short running hook with 7.2 seconds left for the final points of the game.
“First and foremost, it says a lot about Dame,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said of the final assist.
Lillard has historically played well against the Lakers, averaging 28 points in 32 career games, compared to 24.6 overall for his 11-year NBA career.
Lillard also appears rejuvenated after playing just 29 games last season because of surgery to repair a nagging abdominal injury.
Another good sign for the Trail Blazers is the play of 7-footer Jusuf Nurkic. He had 20 points and 17 rebounds against Phoenix.
“I told him to keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’,” Lillard said. “He was very good on the defensive end. Controlled the glass for us. Excellent game from Nurk.”
The Lakers are hoping for a better performance from Russell Westbrook, who missed all 11 of his field-goal attempts against the Clippers.
He wasn’t alone in his poor shooting, however.
Kendrick Nunn missed all seven of his field-goal attempts and Patrick Beverley missed six of seven. The trio was a combined 1 for 16 from 3-point distance.
“We’ve all had bad shooting nights,” James said. “I’ve had bad shooting nights. Every person in this league had bad shooting nights. Who cares. (Westbrook) played a great game. Defensively, he was in tune and locked in. He just didn’t make any shots.”
–Field Level Media