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Pundits heap praise on Blazers after Game 1 win, Charles Barkley predicts a Portland sweep

A look at what members of the national and local media had to say about the Blazers' stunning Game 1 upset against the top-seeded Lakers.
Credit: AP
Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum (3) passes between Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (0) and forward LeBron James (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Trail Blazers continued their impressive run, upsetting the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers 100-93 in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Tuesday night.

Damian Lillard led the way for Portland, scoring 34 points. He hit three of his six 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, when the Blazers rallied from a six-point deficit with a 19-6 game-closing run to clinch the victory.

CJ McCollum added 21 points for Portland and Jusuf Nurkic finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds.

BOX SCORE: Trail Blazers 100, Lakers 93

LeBron James had a triple-double for the Lakers, with 23 points, 17 rebounds and 16 assists. Anthony Davis had 28 points and 11 rebounds, but made only 8 of 24 shots from the field.

The Blazers' defense has been a weakness all season, but in Game 1, Portland held the Lakers to 35.1% shooting, including 5 of 32 (15.6%) from the 3-point line.

KGW's Orlando Sanchez and Nate Hanson recorded an emergency podcast early Wednesday morning reacting to the Blazers' impressive victory.

3-on-3 Blazers podcast: Emergency pod! Blazers stun Lakers in Game 1 

LISTEN: Apple podcasts | Spotify Google Play | Stitcher

Here's what some members of the national and local media had to say about the game:

A matter of trust: Why the Blazers are always finding the open man 

Jason Quick, The Athletic 

Excerpt: The biggest shots of the game came from Carmelo Anthony and Gary Trent Jr. in the final minutes. Anthony had been off all game, missing eight of his 10 shots. And Trent had gone 1-for-7, twice hitting the side of the backboard on 3-point attempts.

But with the game on the line, their teammates trusted them to take 3-pointers, and like they have all throughout the Orlando restart, Anthony and Trent Jr. trusted their preparation. Anthony’s 3 with 2:32 left pushed the Blazers lead to 95-89. Later, after the Lakers drew within 95-93, Trent Jr. hit a 3 with 1:15 left.

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Gaudy numbers aside, Lakers are still waiting to meet Playoff LeBron

Joe Vardon, The Athletic

Excerpt: Watching LeBron perform in the playoffs is its own experience. It’s theatrical and dramatic. There is passion from the actor and memories for a lifetime for those who watch. Usually you know you saw greatness on the court. After Game 1 Tuesday, you’d have to look at the stat sheet to notice. There is a whole other level to Playoff LeBron, and anyone who watched his eight consecutive trips to the Finals prior to last season knows it when they see it.

And Tuesday night, they didn’t see it. Though obscured by his gaudy statistics, the fact is LeBron was not a difference maker in his first playoff game as a Laker.

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Hassan Whiteside’s presence inside powered Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 win over Los Angeles Lakers

Aaron Fentress, The Oregonian

Excerpt: One of the Lakers’ strengths is their trio of big men, Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard. To combat that, the Blazers needed Whiteside to get physical inside, something he has done well for most of the season. It was even more important Tuesday night because power forward Zach Collins sat out with an ankle injury.

Whiteside responded with seven points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots. Then there were the numerous shots he altered with his mere presence in the key.

"He was big-time," Lillard said. "We knew coming into the series that once we got here that they’ve got a lot of guys that are active in the paint … we need our big guys to have a presence in the paint on both ends of the floor."

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Portland Trail Blazers shock LeBron James and Los Angeles Lakers, win playoff opener: The good, the bad, the reason for hope

Joe Freeman, The Oregonian

Excerpt: After the Blazers dispatched the Lakers in Game 1, there were high-fives, fist-bumps and that Nurkic kiss. One thing missing: A big celebration.

Lillard roamed the court urging teammates not to celebrate. Wenyen Gabriel held up three fingers and shouted "Three more. Three more."

It was the kind of reaction you expect to see from a battle-tested team that assumed it would win. And it’s the exact kind of reaction Blazers fans should be giddy about.

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Something May Be Wrong With the Lakers, but Nothing’s Wrong With Dame Lillard

Dan Devine, The Ringer

Excerpt: All season long, the Lakers bludgeoned opponents with brute strength. Behind the mammoth frontcourt of Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee, and Dwight Howard, L.A. ranked third in defensive efficiency, first in blocked shots per game, second in points in the paint, and first in shooting percentage at the rim before the league’s March 11 shutdown; it rode that size advantage all the way to the best record in the Western Conference.

Unfortunately for LeBron James and Co., though, all that no. 1 seed bought them in the NBA’s restart was a first-round date with a Trail Blazers team that can go toe-to-toe with their bigs up front—and, more importantly, enjoys a massive mismatch in the backcourt, where Portland employs the most dangerous man in the bubble.

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And finally, last but DEFINITELY not least ...

Charles Barkley is the Blazers' No. 1 fan