Time to panic? Portland Trail Blazers offensive in disarray against Los Angeles Lakers

It was just a game. A loss in a 1-1 series. But a trend has developed which is bad news for the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Lakers defeated Portland, 111-88, in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series. It was the second game in a row the Lakers got to work on the Portland offense and kept it well below its 126-point average in their nine games until the playoffs in the NBA bubble.

In Game 1, that defensive effort didn’t matter much as the Lakers’ offense didn’t show up and they lost 100-93. But in Game 2, Los Angeles did it on both sides of the pitch as the Blazers looked helpless.

Portland, of course, doesn’t take the lopsided loss as an indication that the team is in deep trouble.

“We got our ass kicked tonight but it’s only a game,” said the Portland goaltender. Damien lillard noted. “I think that’s the beauty of it. It’s a serie. They don’t get two wins for such a great effort. So being beaten like we’ve been beaten doesn’t count as two losses, it counts as one.

That number could quickly grow to four if the Blazers fail to turn the tide as the series continues on Saturday with Game 3. However, what happens may not be fixable.

There are plenty of reasons the Lakers are the No.1 seed and the Blazers are No.8. But one main trait Portland has going for him in this series is a Lillard-led offense, CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony it could keep the Blazers in any game even if their mediocre defense is shredded.

The latter remains a daily concern, of course, but completely losing their offensive punch would likely mean this series ends in five games.

Since scoring 36 points in the first quarter of Game 1, the Blazers have averaged 19 points per quarter. This coming from a team that averaged 31.5 per quarter during the classification and play-in matches.

Portland Trail Blazers goaltender Damian Lillard (0) takes on Los Angeles Lakers goalie Alex Caruso (4) in Game 2 of a first-round basketball playoff first half of the NBA, Thursday, August 20, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement / Pool Photo via AP) APPA

Portland shot 40 percent Thursday and 27.6 percent from three points. On Tuesday, the Blazers shot 39.2% from the field and 38.2% from three points. That latter percentage kept Portland alive in this game. In fact, the Blazers closed the win with three three-pointers in the dying minutes.

So, one could argue that Portland simply had a bad offensive night from the outside on Thursday. However, if the Lakers really found their offense, Portland needs to consistently score in the 120 to have a realistic chance of winning this series. Greater offensive efficiency not only leads to points, but also prevents the Lakers from missing, transitioning, and attacking before the Blazers’ defense is set.

“It was their night and it didn’t help that we didn’t play well on the offensive end and it’s a team that wants to play fast and play in transition,” said Lillard. “So we kind of played their game by not playing well on offense.”

But, again, it wasn’t just about the Blazers not playing well on offense. The Lakers have a lot to do with being much more aggressive by design, delights coach Frank Vogel.

“The attention factor on the defensive side of the ball is where it should be to win in the playoffs and we have immense respect for the offensive firepower of the basketball team we play,” he said. Vogel said. “I have just been satisfied with the efforts and commitment of our team on defense during the first two games.

The Lakers have chased Lillard from the jump. He said he could hear Los Angeles defenders yelling “box” before attempting to lock him up, multiple times sending center JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard at him.

Portland failed to counter with effective plays to open up shooters or to set up center Jusuf Nurkic, who scored just nine points. Lillard was limited to 18 points in 30 minutes before quit the game with a dislocated left index finger at the end of the third quarter with Portland lagging behind 85-55.

The x-rays were negative on Lillard’s finger and he said he would play on Saturday.

Now, one could attribute this debacle to the team due to a clunker. Each team has them.

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Game 2

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and Portland Trail Blazers goaltender Gary Trent Jr. (2) fight for a loose ball in the first half of Game 2 of a playoff series NBA first round basketball, Thursday August 20, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement / Pool Photo via AP) APPA

“Obviously the bad credit loans goes to them and the way they played,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “But I thought it was probably the first game we’ve had since we were here that we looked a little slow and didn’t have the same pop. I don’t know if we were due for any of them, but I know we have to play at a high level to beat the Lakers, which we did in Game 1 and it wasn’t quite right. done there tonight.

Lillard said he didn’t feel the Blazers were due to a bad game, but added that over time, “the game balances out. Some guys go out and have a big night out and then the next night they might calm down. Some teams play great during the stretches and then they have this game where they cool down. “

It could be seen as a legitimate possibility if it hadn’t happened twice and for a team that, during the regular season, had the league’s third-best defensive rating (106.1).

Could fatigue have been a factor? Lillard rejected the idea even though the Blazers have played 11 important games since July 31. He pointed out that they had a four month hiatus before the restart and that they are not traveling like they would in a normal NBA play-off situation.

Still, the Lakers have said they believe they might tire the Blazers and felt they did so to some extent in Game 1.

Rationalization, reasoning and analysis aside, Lillard believes the Blazers have simply been dominated.

“Obviously we went out and won the first game, so it’s natural for them to come out and be a little more aggressive and fight a little more,” he said. “We didn’t come out relaxed, they just chased him harder than us.”

The Bubble Blazers rebounded well from losses to Boston and the Los Angeles Clippers. It will be their biggest challenge following a loss because of who they are up against and it is a team that is now stuck on what they are doing.

Portland is unlikely to fall back. The effort will probably be there.

“Knowing our team,” Stotts said, “we’re going to bounce back. “

But will doing it be enough?

– Aaron Fentress | [email protected] | @AaronJFentress (Twitter), @AaronJFentress (Instagram), @AaronFentress (Facebook).

Subscribe to The Oregonian / OregonLive newsletters and podcasts for the latest news and the best stories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.