NBA

Lakers 'not a lay-down team', says LeBron after sensational comeback against Trail Blazers

By Sports Desk January 23, 2023

It was a game of two halves at Moda Center as the Los Angeles Lakers overturned a 25-point deficit to beat the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.

When the Lakers went in trailing by 25 at the half, they had just experienced the wrong side of the joint second-biggest scoring margin in one quarter since the NBA added the three-point arc in 1979.

Portland outscored the visitors 45-13 in the second quarter, but LeBron James and his team-mates would not lie down.

The Lakers came back to register 75 points in the second half, while only allowing 41, turning around the 25-point deficit to win by nine.

"I guess it's only one or two ways, you can either go out and you can lay down and get ready for the next game or you can see what happens in the third quarter, make a game of it," James said after the victory.

"And for us as competitors, and our team and our makeup this year, we're not a lay-down team. That's just not the makeup of our club."

James scored 37 with 11 rebounds as he closed in further on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time scoring record, while Thomas Bryant added 31 with 14 rebounds as the Lakers produced their second-biggest half-time deficit comeback win in franchise history.

"They jumped on us and knocked us down,” James added. "Thank God for the standing eight count."

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    LeBron James has warned the Los Angeles Lakers must play "mistake-free basketball" if they are to overcome the Denver Nuggets.

    The Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 110-106 on Tuesday, meaning they progress to the first round of the playoffs.

    A series against the reigning NBA champions awaits, starting on Saturday.

    And James, who finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, knows the Lakers will have to deliver a near-perfect performance.

    "It's the defending champion," James said.

    "They know what it takes. They know how to win. They've been extremely dominant on their home floor over the last few years.

    "They've got an MVP on their team. They've got a closer on their team. They've got high-level players, high-IQ players, and they've got a hell of a coach.

    "So, we have to play mistake-free basketball. Make it tough on them. They're going to try to make it tough on us, obviously.

    "But if we can play as great of a game as we can play, and they're going to play as great of a game as they play, it's going come down to one or two possessions. We'll see who executes then."

    It was put to Lakers coach Darvin Ham that there had been reports the Lakers might throw their game against the Pelicans in order to go up against either the Sacramento Kings or the Golden State Warriors in the other play-in game.

    The Kings ultimately won, and will now face the Pelicans, with the prize a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Western Conference's No.1 seed.

    "There was a report of what?" an incredulous Ham said. "Insane asylum sources say?"

    The Lakers reached the Conference Finals last year, and Anthony Davis is confident Los Angeles are coming into their best form at the opportune moment.

    "I think we're clicking at the right time," Davis said.

    "Guys are playing well. Guys are very confident. Guys are feeling good. And we're going to need it, especially against Denver."

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    Sacramento, who were led by Keegan Murray's 32 points, lost to the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs last year.

    And Fox and his teammates knew exactly how important gaining a measure of revenge was this time around.

    "We knew what was on the line," said Fox, who scored 24 points for the Kings.

    "This was just another obstacle in our way. We have to get over this hump.

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    The Warriors, meanwhile, have now missed out on the playoffs for the third time in the past five seasons.

    "I was a sophomore in high school watching them win championships [four titles between 2015 and 2022]," Fox said.

    "We've been watching this team for a long time. If it is the end, it is what it is. I'm glad we're able to beat this team at this moment, but they definitely had a hell of a run."

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    The 39-year-old scored 23 points in the Lakers’ 110-106 victory and also contributed nine rebounds, nine assists and three steals.

    The Lakers go into the play-offs as the seventh seed and will face defending champions the Denver Nuggets in the first round.

    Speaking to reporters, James said: “It was a good all-round team win. This was a long road trip, you almost forget we were in Memphis before these two games.

    “Tonight was definitely a play-off game so get your mind right, get your body right, try to get as much recovery as we can before we have to go out there on Saturday.

    “It’s a sprint now, we already went through the marathon. Tonight we showcased what we’re able to do both offensively and defensively. We’ve got a good group going right now, a good rotation, good plan and guys are coming in ready to go.”

    James, who will compete in the play-offs for the 17th time in 21 seasons, feels his team have their work cut out against the Nuggets.

    “It’s the defending champion, they know what it takes, they know how to win, they’ve been extremely dominant at home over the last few years,” he said.

    “They’ve got high-level players, high IQ players, they’ve got a hell of a coach. We have to play mistake-free basketball and make it tough on them.”

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