LeBron James and sidekick Anthony Davis are two wins away from
their first playoff series triumph as Los Angeles teammates.
The duo looks to take another step on Monday night when the Lakers
take on the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 4 of a Western
Conference first-round series near Orlando.
James and Davis each had standout performances in the club's
116-108 victory in Game 3 that gave the Lakers a 2-1 lead in the
James had 38 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists and Davis scored
23 of his 29 points in the second half. Davis also had 11 rebounds,
eight assists and three blocked shots.
The two stars play well together despite this being their first
season as teammates after Los Angeles acquired Davis from the New
Orleans Pelicans in the offseason.
"We know who we are as human beings," James told reporters after
Saturday's win. "We're not trying to be nobody else but our own
identity, our own self.
"And when you know yourself and when you're confident in what you
do both on and off the floor and you know what you represent, then
there's no ego. There's no ego. We want both of us to succeed, both
on and off the floor."
Portland will be relying on star guard Damian Lillard as it
attempts to avoid a 3-1 series deficit.
Lillard played with a dislocated left index finger in Game 3 and
still produced 34 points and seven assists. But he was just 2-of-9
shooting in the second half to finish 8 of 20 overall.
Lillard admitted the finger played a factor in his play.
"Obviously, I dislocated it, so it's going to have some effect on
ballhandling," Lillard told reporters. "The biggest thing I felt
was just going up to shoot, when I was gathering the ball, I was
uncomfortable. Sometimes I would subconsciously try to ease up on
it, so I would lose the ball a little bit.
"When I was making moves, in the middle of my dribble, I would ease
up on it because I would feel the pain, and I would lose the ball a
little bit. It kind of stopped me in my tracks. I did as much
treatment as I could, and I tried to just ignore it. But once you
decide to step out there, it is what it is."
Lillard said he wasn't concerned about Portland's situation
entering Game 4. Forward Carmelo Anthony also doesn't see being
behind in the series as a problem.
"I think we're good. It's only 2-1. We have a series," Anthony told
reporters. "We've got to make some adjustments. Game 4, we know the
implications on what that means. ... We're sitting in a good
situation. We're not concerned. We know what we have to do."
A big part of Game 3 was that the Lakers had a repeated motorcade
to the free-throw line. Los Angeles received 43 attempts (making
28) to Portland's 18-of-19 performance.
While Lillard said "the discrepancy in free throws is something
that's out of our control," Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts stated
"we're putting ourselves in position to foul."
Part of that is the way James was driving through the lane and
putting pressure on Portland defenders. Davis also sensed that the
Trail Blazers were a weary group in Game 3.
"Just trying to wear them down," Davis said of the second-half
approach. "Obviously they've been playing a lot. Since they've been
here, they've been playing like Game 7s. So it's our job to kind of
keep putting the pressure on them and keep running as the bigs, and
that's what we're gonna do."
Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Sunday that veteran point guard Rajon
Rondo (back) is doubtful. Rondo was cleared to play in Game 3 after
recovering from a broken right thumb but was scratched shortly
before tipoff due to back spasms.