PORTLAND, Ore. – The debut of LeBron James with his new club began with two monstrous Tomahawk dunks within 19 seconds. But James knows that he and the Los Angeles Lakers are still a long way from a slam dunk and that their chemistry will not be nearly as fast.
LA's defense began on Thursday night after the LeBron Lakers era Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum failed to spoil James's # 1 violet-and-gold debut to lead Portland to a 128-119 win at Moda Center ,
King James brought the fireworks early, but Lillard Time was too late when the Trail Blazers spoiled LeBron's first Lakers game.
LeBron James says he's "fresh" when he starts his 16th season with a new team – the Lakers – and wins championships The goal that drives him
"Um, not like that Quick as you think it will happen, "James said when asked how long it would take for the Lakers chemistry to develop. "I always compare it to instant oatmeal, it's not that fast, it takes a while to get to where you can close your eyes and know exactly where people are."
James scored 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, but he watched as the Lakers missed their first 15 3-point attempts, scored 14 offensive rebounds and 21 second-chance points and both at both ends of the soil had too little cohesion. The Lakers also showed promising lightning, especially at their speed, as they beat the Trail Blazers 34-12 in fast break points. Six Lakers also achieved double-digit numbers.
"I liked our fight to get back into the game," James said. "We were in double digits, I liked the way we sometimes played against each other, and I liked the way we shared the ball, which were all positive."
With NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Nike co-founder Phil Knight on hand to see, this game felt like a major event that came with more hype than a typical season opener. Before the game, a horde of cameramen and reporters took James every step of the team bus up to his locker.
James was a picture of calm before the game and set the mood for his Lakers debut. A mahogany teak scented candle burned in the empty locker beside him.
His Lakers debut started a scorching start. The Lakers were leading early at 10, and James's first basket in purple and gold came after stealing a pass from Jake Layman and then breaking into an undisputed break-away power jam at 9:21 in the first quarter was. Less than 20 seconds later, James came through the alley, throwing another dunking dunk. After both slams, James Knight and Nike manager Lynn Merritt looked up at the basket next to the basket where James had hit.
"I was right there, first row," said Lonzo Ball, who came behind the starter from the bank Rajon Rondo. "[Two] of the best two games I've ever seen."
But some of the problems that many thought could plague the Lakers this season – especially early – came to light in the opener. In free agency, the Lakers purposely surrounded James with several ball dealers and did not sign shooting specialists like the Cleveland Cavaliers with James in the past.
The Lakers opened the game by leaving their first 15 3-point shots in front of Josh Hart (20 points) made the team's first trey with 2:22 in the third quarter. Hart, who also hit a 3-pointer in the third quarter buzz, helped the Lakers finish 7-for-30 behind the bow.
The Lakers management believe the team has plenty of shooters, with people like Hart, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma improving their shots this season.
"Hopefully it's a coincidence," Ball said. "Hopefully that will not happen again, I do not think we'll shoot 0-by-15 again."
Ball (seven points) hit a 3-pointer with 8:07 in the game Draw the Lakers within 101-100. But Lillard responded with a 3-pointer to spark a 18-6 run. Lillard (28 points) and McCollum (21 points) combined 20 points in the last eight minutes, leading Portland to their 16th win in a row against the Lakers. Nik Stauskas added 24 points for Portland, who have already scored their first home win in 18 consecutive seasons.
Lakers coach Luke Walton tried a variety of lineups at the season opener and used James to sign the four-year Lakers signings from Rondo, Caldwell-Pope, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee. Walton had also played James along with the four Lakers prospects of Ingram, Kuzma, Ball and Hart.
"It [is] will take patience from our team, from all of us," said James. "To find out what we're good at, find out what we're not good at, how we can be better at it, it's a good first test for us to be in a building where they are located." [a home opener] in the 2000s. "
The Lakers hope that their aspiring core will be prepared to play faster than expected with James. In the other two times James debuted with a new team, it took a while for him and his new teammates to be jelling.
The Heat stumbled to 9-8 in James' first season in Miami before winning 12 consecutive games (19659002) When James returned to Cleveland after his first visit there, the Cavaliers opened under David Blatt 19- 20 and won 12 straights, finishing 53-29 and making the first of four NBA finals
"We're literally in there for less than a month," James said about the team since the training camp that began in late September. "So, it's still early, you still have to go through a lot, you'll go through some adversities, see how the boys react, look what boys do."
It will not be easier for the Lakers as James makes his Staples Center debut in the regular season on Saturday against James Harden, Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets.
"Pretty, it will take time," Ball said as Lakers take their steps. "We want to go there, we want to bring back L. A. It's just the first game, it's not a big deal right now."