With Rob Pelinka, the team’s general manager and vice president of basketball operations, howling and clapping from an elevated seat in the socially distanced spectator area Saturday night, the Lakers beat the Trail Blazers 116-108 in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead.
LeBron James finished with 38 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, while Anthony Davis also neared a triple-double with 29 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. The Lakers, who have won back-to-back games after dropping Game 1, also got double-digit scoring from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso.
The Lakers again held the Trail Blazers’ dangerous offense to well below their bubble average. Damian Lillard finished with 34 points, while teammate CJ McCollum added 28.
Lillard had the first two fingers on his left hand wrapped after dislocating his index finger during Thursday’s game. The guard never considered missing Saturday’s game because of the injury but didn’t do any on-court work between games. At one point in the first quarter, Caldwell-Pope landed on Lillard, causing the Portland star to gingerly hold his fingers.
But if the injury bothered him otherwise, it didn’t show. In the first quarter, Lillard scored 14 points on four-for-seven shooting while making three three-pointers.
The Lakers planned to have veteran guard Rajon Rondo active for the first time in the bubble, but he experienced back spasms during pregame warmups and could not play.
With little success against Davis in Game 2, the Trail Blazers shook up their frontcourt, starting Hassan Whiteside instead of rookie Wenyen Gabriel and moving Jusuf Nurkic to power forward. The Lakers were undeterred in attacking the paint.
Free throws, though, proved to be an early nemesis. The Lakers missed 13 free throws in the first half and trailed by four at halftime.
In the third quarter, they built a lead of 12 but still had trouble pulling away from Portland until late in the fourth.