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Home / Sports / Lakers Vs. Highlights: LeBron James makes a strong debut, but L.A.'s problems show up in the loss

Lakers Vs. Highlights: LeBron James makes a strong debut, but L.A.'s problems show up in the loss



LeBron James made his Lakers debut on Thursdays in a 128-119 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. There were a lot of things about the way the Lakers played, but there was also some cause for concern. Here are five quick takeaways.

How long does it take for LeBron to take more control?

The king scored 13 points on 5 of 6 shootings in his first quarter for the Lakers, who, with Rajon Rondo leading the pace, all played as if they were spun out of a cannon. As the game progressed, LeBron began to control his possessions a little more, but he was obviously in "Involve" mode all night, blighting a good part of his damage ̵

1; he made a sweet cut to the baseline of one Rondo Pass, and he had some offensive setbacks (he only had 34 of them all last year). The 13 points were a career high for LeBron in the first quarter, if you can believe that.

Overall, LeBron scored 26 points, 12 boards and 6 assists in 38 minutes. It was a simple line. LeBron allowed Rondo to control much of the half-court instinct, and Rondo was really good with 13 points and 11 assists as Plus-11 in his 32 minutes. It was a big story, LeBron played more on the ball, and in the opener he definitely did more than we've seen in the past. He found Brandon Ingram on a nice high-low pass over the top. He created corner 3s for Ingram with some split action next to Rondo in the middle. He ran with his wing for breaks, instead of getting the socket and pressing the ball himself.

There were good things to come, namely the fact that six Lakers scored 13 points or more. Ingram was nice in the third quarter after battling a bit in the first half; He could have the biggest shot of a Laker playing more without the ball. Josh Hart was eliminated with 20 points. In the second half, he finished a nice move, in which he refused LeBron's ball screen and went to the edge. He went 3 out of 5 out of three. Kyle Kuzma was aggressive all night and finished with 15 points.

Nevertheless, the Lakers have lost. LeBron has never dealt with the "I'm going to take this game" mode, and at some point he probably has to do that more often. When will this point be? How will it happen? It is a difficult situation, because in the West LeBron can not do it alone. That was fine in the east. But in the West he needs these guys to be really good next to him. In many ways, they were on Thursday. In an important way they were not. What makes us …

Filming is a Big Deal

This was a concern for the Lakers since they began combining this weird list with Rondo's signature Lance Stephenson. Michael Beasley and JaVale McGee: Who takes pictures? Especially 3-pointers? On Thursday, the Lakers shot 7 out of 30 from the depths. That's 23 percent. The Blazers made 13s in a 35 percent clip. For all intents and purposes that was the difference.

We all know that LeBron has traditionally worked most successfully in a mostly four-rate set, especially in his last deployment with Cleveland, with shooters around him to cover the floor and open the track for his wrecking ball. Ingram settled early as a spot-up in the corner and missed two open 3s; He went 0-for-4 from deep for the game. Kuzma went 1-for-7. Lonzo Ball went 1 to 4. Stephenson was 0 for 3. LeBron also took a donut from four attempts.

Quite simply, if you can not do 3s or grow up against 3s on the other end, you're in a world of trouble. There are things that can be adjusted to become a better defensive team against the 3, but knock-down shooters will not suddenly turn up on the Lakers list. Lakers fans can hope that Kuzma has a hot year (he is capable) and that either Ingram or Ball gets hot from game to game in a kind of changing role. These things are not completely unreasonable, but they are also not exactly reliable developments. We will see.

Maybe we have a problem with Lonzo

Ball lost his starting job to Rondo for the time being, and if it is Thursday night, he will not get it back in the foreseeable future. Again Rondo was really good, and Lonzo was just the opposite – in his 19 minutes seven points and an assist on 2 of 7 for a team low-minus 15. Yikes.

There has been a lot of talk that Lonzo is actually a really good off-ball player, but I never bought him and I do not. He is not a good shooter, plain and simple. He is also ready for a passer-by in the half-court, often getting rid of the ball like a hot potato. If the Lakers can continue to play super fast and make a ball-and-player-based, half-court shoot that consistently cuts and screen action, Ball has a natural feel for this type of inclusiveness. But it all depends on his energy, and quite simply, on Thursday he just played through the moves. If you give up the ball and just stand there, and you can not shoot to a level that scares the defense in the least, you're a non-factor.

That was Lonzo Thursday night. A complete and complete non-factor. There is a real swag that comes with the start of a basketball game. This applies to every level, from junior high school to the future. It is a matter of pride. A thing with confidence. For a young player, it's easy to see how he comes off the bench as a demotion, rather than having a chance to influence the game in other ways – for example, how Andre Iguodala sees his role in Golden State. This is veteran stuff. For young people, being self-confident can be difficult if you have just been demoted. Lonzo, who has never been so assertive, should better find out how to do that, otherwise he'd better get used to being a backup.

A Little Love for the Blazers

Every year the Blazers are interviewed. Every year they are good. Here's the deal: No team with Damian Lillard will ever be a bad team. I am convinced of that and have been for a long time. Lillard went for 28 points, six rebounds and four assists. He defeated a hard shooting night by going 8-for-8 on the free throw line. That's what stars do, and Lillard is a stone-cold star. Should be in the MVP conversation every year. Do not let anyone else tell you. Just watch him answer LeBron's huge dunk with one of his own.

I talked to Terry Stotts this summer and he told me that one of the Blazers' main goals this year would be the 3-point line – both shooting more than last year and defending it at the other end. As mentioned above, they stopped the Lakers '3-point attack and picked up 13 of their own chips from the depths – thanks in large part to Nik Stauskas' surprise championship, who scored points from the bank with 5 against 8 for 24 giants from deep within , CJ McCollum came in with 21 points on 3 of 6 from the depth. Portland's bank was terrific as a group.

Stotts also told me he wanted his team to make more passes through the pass this year instead of isolating themselves so much. This can get even better – on Thursday there were only 21 assists. But listen, to some degree, you ride the horses you have, and Lillard and McCollum are the horses. Why people are always afraid to bet on them is a mystery to me.


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