Lakers without LeBron dominated in loss to Damian Lillard, Blazers

PORTLAND, Ore. – During a time-out in the third quarter, LeBron James, wearing a buttoned shirt and cap, stood under the rim and casually fired shots from the glass.

The Lakers will need the NBA’s all-time top scorer in uniform soon for goals to count.

James’ absence — his third straight missed game — was felt deeply Monday night in a 127-115 loss that saw the Portland Trail Blazers (28-29) play with the Lakers (26-32) in a razor-sharp shooting night. Damian Lillard had 30 points at halftime and finished with an easy 40.

The 32-year-old has already had one 60-point game this season but he has been on pace with eight 3-pointers, all before half-time. As a team, the Blazers were a whopping 23-47 behind the arc, a mark that made even Matisse Thybulle, just a 33% deep shooter, even more painful at 4-6.

“Just try to do your best to make it as difficult as possible for him,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said of Lillard. “I don’t know what else you can do besides steal his sneakers.”

It was that kind of night, and with the Blazers amassing 17 3-pointers at halftime, the Lakers’ defense became so stretched and frenetic that Portland easily sliced ​​them in the third quarter and cemented the score.

The 13th-ranked Lakers are in the nagging position of needing every win they can get, and they missed a valuable opportunity to move closer to the team directly ahead of them in the Western Conference rankings, as the night began. They only have one game left against the New Orleans Pelicans before the All-Star break, which they also likely badly need.

“Obviously it’s our second game together,” Lakers big man Anthony Davis said of the significant roster changes made ahead of the trade deadline. “I’m still trying to figure it out.”

Davis finished the game with 19 points and 20 rebounds but seemed timid, especially on offense, despite being guarded by starter Drew Eubanks in the run-up. He was only 8 to 18 off the field, his shooting contact so far having been slow to come back after his return from injury.

“I still need to be productive for my team to win basketball games,” Davis said. “I feel good. I just have to take pictures.”

After making their debut with a win Saturday at the Golden State, the Lakers’ newcomers posted similar numbers: D’Angelo Russell had 16 points and four assists; Jarred Vanderbilt had six points and six rebounds; Malik Beasley had 22 points but boosted his stats during fourth-quarter garbage time minutes.

However, neither of them made a discernible impression as the Lakers looked for a comeback attempt — crystallizing the notion that the Lakers’ success is tied not to their commercial acquisitions but to the play of their stars.

Portland led by as much as 27 points, and the Lakers were never in the single digits after the first quarter. Portland’s 3-point percentage (49%) was higher than the 2-point percentage (46%).

The Blazers had already racked up nine 3-pointers in the first quarter alone when they ran their last game of the frame with 1.6 seconds left. Unfortunately for the Lakers, that was more than enough time for Lillard, who pulled up from 40 feet as Austin Reaves and Vanderbilt tried to hold their own and then could only watch as it splashed through the net. Lakers without LeBron dominated in loss to Damian Lillard, Blazers

Russell Falcon

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