The Los Angeles Lakers, heavy favorites to win a second straight title, suffered their second defeat in 4 games in the new season, falling 115-107 to the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday, December 28 (Tuesday, December 29, Philippine time).
Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 31 points and Gary Trent Jr. added 28 off the bench as Portland’s reserves outscored the Lakers bench, 45-23.
LeBron James led the Lakers with 29 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists and Anthony Davis returned from a night off with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“I thought we came out with great energy,” said Los Angeles coach Frank Vogel, whose Lakers seized a 13-point lead in the opening quarter. “When they made their runs we weren’t able to sustain the energy we began the game with.”
In Salt Lake City, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell scored the Jazz’s final 12 points – including the game-winner with 7 seconds remaining – and Rudy Gobert shut down Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at the rim as time expired to give the Jazz a 110-109 victory over the Thunder.
The game marked the Jazz’s return to Oklahoma City for the first time since March 11 – when Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive for COVID-19 and league play shuddered to halt, resuming 4 months later in a quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.
“Obviously you have all the memories coming back,” said French big man Gobert, who finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. “It’s a little bit of a weird atmosphere.
“But I’m happy we were able to come back and get the win.”
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