The Los Angeles Lakers have regained command of the series, defeating the Portland Trail Blazers to take a 2-1 lead.
An offensive outburst from LeBron James dictated the game, while a second-half explosion from Anthony Davis helped close things out with a 116-108 victory. Damian Lillard's dislocated finger appeared to be just fine, but a combined 62 points from he and CJ McCollum was not enough to come away with a win.
For more on the action-packed Game 3, we have you covered with some key takeaways below.
Attack mode LeBron
The Lakers only needed 26 minutes of LeBron James in their Game 2 blowout win. He tallied just 10 points - it was only the fourth time in his career that he was held to 10 points or less in a playoff game and the first time since 2014.
As usual, despite the win, the general masses were critical of LeBron's Game 2 showing, unhappy with his scoring output. It's unknown whether or not that was the motivation behind his Game 3 performance, but James was seeing red from the jump.
It only took LeBron until the 10-minute mark of the second quarter to eclipse his scoring output from his last contest. He was a bulldozer in transition, looking to call his own number whenever he had the opportunity. He got to the free throw line early and often and his 3-point shot was falling for the first time this series (he was previously 1-for-8 from beyond the arc). It added another dynamic to his score-first attitude that made him virtually unstoppable.
James would finish the game with 38 points shooting 11-for-18 (61.1%) from the field, 4-for-8 from 3-point range and 12-for-17 from the free throw line, constantly putting pressure on the Blazers defence.
The King (38 PTS, 12 REB & 8 AST) balled out! 👑- NBA TV (@NBATV) August 23, 2020
LA takes game 3. pic.twitter.com/WxytEyknkI
LeBron looking to attack the way he was tonight exposed Portland's lack of a matchup for the all-time great.
Lillard's finger appears as non-factor
When Damian Lillard was forced to leave Game 2 with a dislocated finger, Portland's season flashed before their eyes. Luckily, the superstar cleared himself to play in Game 3 immediately after the loss, but it was still a question of how will the injury - even on his off-hand - impact his rhythm and performance?
Well... it didn't take long for Lillard to dismiss any uncertainty. He'd convert his first three 3-point attempts of the game and explode for 14 points in the first quarter alone. Not once did it look like his finger was disrupting his shot or his ball-handling, meaning he was the typical offensive threat we've seen all season.
Lillard would post a team-high 34 points to go with seven assists and five rebounds, but he did go quiet in the second half.
The Lakers did a great job of taking Lillard out of the game with a variety of double teams and traps, using fullcourt pressure and off-ball denial to outcast the prolific scorer. He shot 2-for-11 from the field and 1-for-5 from beyond the arc, but still tallied 15 points simply from hitting 10 of his 11 free throw attempts.
It was a positive to see that his finger didn't bother him but the All-Star didn't get the result he was looking for.
Davis' second-half statement
The Trail Blazers switched up the starting lineup, electing to start both Jusuf Nurkic and Hassan Whiteside, presumably to try and make life more difficult for Anthony Davis.
The lineup change had appeared to be working going into the halftime break as Davis was held to just six points shooting 1-for-3 from the field, giving Portland a four-point lead. James was the Lakers' only source of offence and they needed a completely different version of their other superstar if they were going to pick up the win.
In the second half, Davis turned into the player that's considered to be among the top tier of the NBA.
The 27-year-old forward exploded for 23 points, six rebounds, five assists and a block in the final two periods. When Los Angeles was trying to put the Blazers away late in the game, it was Davis who stepped up going for 12 points in the fourth quarter, knocking down jumper after jumper to secure the win.
HIGHLIGHTS: @AntDavis23 puts up a monster stat line of 29 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals. pic.twitter.com/MqDn5oT6iI- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 23, 2020
AD would finish with a monster stat line of 29 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and two steals to go with a team-best +/- of 15. It was a tale of two halves for the All-Star big man.
Carmelo Anthony was transparent in Game 2, finishing with two points, zero rebounds and a +/- of minus-26. He was a key part to the Blazers run to qualify for the postseason and it was no coincidence that his poor performance went hand-in-hand with the blowout loss.
If Portland was going to have a chance in Game 3, they were going to need a better showing from Anthony.
When the team was struggling to counter a game-altering run from the Lakers in the third quarter, Melo was there to weather the storm. It was like a flashback to the late 2000s with James and Anthony trading buckets.
Carmelo erupted for 13 points in the quarter to keep the Blazers in the game. He was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field and gave his team life when it seemed like the Lakers were going to run away with the game.
Melo is on fire in the 3rd QTR 💯- NBA TV (@NBATV) August 23, 2020
He has 13 of his 18 points in the frame! pic.twitter.com/P7a3d9HIrw
Portland would still come up short, but Anthony's 20 points, six rebounds, four steals, two assists and one block was a step in the right direction after a rough showing in Game 2.
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