The Los Angeles Lakers Friday night showed everything you need to have to be a championship team.
With LeBron James and Anthony Davis they have two superstars, Hall of Fame-caliber players who are tough at both ends of the floor. They’ve surrounded those players with shooters and veterans who know how to play.
Almost as important as that, they’ve got an experienced coaching staff that appears to have its team buying into defense and moving the ball. Frank Vogel and his assistants are doing an outstanding job with this team that has won 20 of its first 23 games.
And in the Lakers’ 136-113 win over the Trail Blazers in Moda Center, the Lakers got all the help they needed from a very weak officiating crew -- John Goble, Tre Maddox and Leon Wood -- that had Terry Stotts going apoplectic and his players so frustrated they didn’t know what to do.
Stotts was ejected by Tre Maddox with a little more than a minute left in the third quarter after a foul call on Kent Bazemore, who had flown past Anthony Davis without touching him. This after Skal Labissiere was in the locker room getting four stitches in his lip from an elbow by Kyle Kuzma that was not called a foul.
My only question about Stotts getting run was, “What took you so long?”
It had been a poorly officiated game all night and it was the very first time Stotts, in his 880th game as an NBA head coach, has been booted from a game.
“It was very necessary,” Damian Lillard said, then said again. “It was very necessary.”
Bazemore said, “I had four fouls. I didn’t touch him. I was just trying to get out of the way.”
Bazemore got in James’ face and exchanged some words with him a couple of times, but wouldn’t share the content. “I didn’t get here by backing down from anyone," he said. "That’s not who I am. I’m a fiery player. Very passionate. This is what I like to show.”
It was a contentious game that left Portland players feeling they didn’t get a fair shake. CJ McCollum reacted with dismay when he thought he was fouled in the third quarter. And he got a technical foul for it.
“I was clearly fouled,” McCollum said. “He hit me in the head. They didn’t call it. So I let him know that he missed the call. He didn’t appreciate it.
“They were very inconsistent all night.”
He was asked about Stotts’ getting ejected.
“Tells you the kind of night it was -- he doesn’t freak out for no reason,” McCollum said. “He just doesn’t do that. Kent runs by a guy and doesn’t touch him. Wouldn’t you be mad?”
Is it difficult to play a team with big-name players who seem to get calls?
“That’s what it looked like tonight,” he said. “It is what it is. It’s not even about the calls they get. It’s, can we get the same calls?”
The Lakers didn’t need any help. They buried Portland early with dunks off lobs and then put the hammer down with their three-point shooting, hitting 17 of 36 from long range.
Lillard had 29 for Portland, which now has the problem of replacing starting small forward Rodney Hood, who suffered a torn left Achilles tendon.