Things were going so poorly for the Trail Blazers early they couldn’t even earn a technical foul.
The Los Angeles Lakers thrashed the Blazers from the opening tip, rolling to a 135-115 win in Game 4 to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the opening round series.
The Lakers didn’t waste any time getting the beatdown started, ripping off a 15-0 run to open the game as the Blazers looked hapless on both ends. Portland couldn’t get anything to go right, their offense couldn’t shake loose, their defense was porous enough to make sponges jealous, and in the midst of that nightmare they couldn’t even draw a technical despite repeated heated venting toward the referees in the opening five minutes.
The Blazers eventually scored after nearly four minutes. They eventually got a tech, too, when CJ McCollum drew one in the second quarter. But it didn’t matter. The game was over early, and it got worse from there.
Damian Lillard left the game with a right knee injury in the third quarter. It appeared Lillard hurt his knee with just over seven minutes left in the third while attempting to get off a layup around Los Angeles’ Marcus Morris. Lillard stayed in the game, reentering after a Lakers timeout played but had a noticeable limp. He exited the game for good with 5:18 left in the period. The team announced he would not return, but did not elaborate on the extent of the injury.
Even before the Lillard injury scare, the fourth quarter was going to present some extended garbage time, because truthfully the final 40 minutes were pretty much a formality after the way the Lakers dominated early.
The Lakers scored 43 points in the first quarter. They had 80 points at halftime and cracked the 100 point mark with more than three minutes left in the third quarter.
“The Lakers were clicking on all cylinders and our offense couldn’t get anything going early,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “They played really well and we got off to a poor start and obviously they put us in a big hole to begin with.”
Portland doesn’t have the defensive personnel to stop LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and can’t find a lineup that offers a modicum of resistance while also producing consistent offense. All that adds up to a blowout loss, the second full on beatdown the Blazers have absorbed in the past two games.
Lillard finished with 11 points on 3-of-9 shooting in 26 minutes. Jusuf Nurkic was a lone bright spot in the Portland box score, putting together his best game of the series with 20 points, 13 rebounds and four assists.
James had 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting, adding six rebounds and 10 assists in 28 minutes to pace the Lakers. Davis scored 18 points before leaving the game midway through the third quarter with back spasms.
The Blazers now find themselves on the brink of elimination ahead of Wednesday’s Game 5, and very little seems to be going in their favor. It was the type of demoralizing defeat couple with an injury scare that left little silver linings for the Blazers to point towards.
“We got our [butts] whooped tonight,” CJ McCollum said summing up the Blazers predicament succinctly. “And now we’re down 3-1.”