Los Angeles Lakers back in form
The Los Angeles Lakers look like they are going to be just fine. After a humbling Game 1 loss to the No. 8 seeded Portland Trail Blazers, the No. 1 seeded team in the Western Conference roared back and beat the Blazers in Game 2, 111-88.
They were led by an exciting performance from Anthony Davis, who gave them 31 points, 11 rebounds, and also provided a top-notch defence. More importantly, after shooting a dreadful 5-of-32 on 3-pointers in the opener, the Lakers hit 14-38 of them tonight.
Pressure now builds on Portland to respond as we look to Game 3, and the downside is that they won’t be at 100 per cent as they attempt to do so.
Damian Lillard dislocated his left index finger in the third quarter and looks doubtful, and even if he plays, he will likely be less than his typical superstar self, which only adds to Portland’s disappointment after such a big blowout.
The Lakers took Portland’s best punch in Game 1. Now they’re in control with the first two games in the books.
Orlando Magic 96-111 Milwaukee Bucks
Early on Thursday evening, the 2020 NBA playoffs continued with Game 2 between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic. In a stunning upset, the Magic ran away from the top-seeded Bucks in Game 1 on Tuesday, but Giannis Antetokounmpo and Co. bounced back in a major way in Game 2, dominating almost the entire way, winning 111-96 to even the series at 1-1.
The Bucks’ defence finally seems to found their form on Thursday evening after it looked very abysmal in Game 1 against the Orlando Magic side.
They completely suppressed the Magic early on, ensuring they didn’t get more than 13 points in the first quarter, which then set the tone, and they led by as much as 23 before coasting to victory.
Giannis led the way as per usual for the Milwaukee Bucks, finishing with 28 points, 20 rebounds, and five assists.
Orlando started the game poorly, shooting 3 of 24 in the first quarter, which quickly put them behind by double digits. They, however, kept spirits up and fought to put a little scare into the Bucks in the fourth quarter, but they never really had a chance after such a rough start. Nikola Vucevic had another strong game in defeat, finishing with 32 points and 10 rebounds.
Miami Heat 109-100 Indiana Pacers
Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic provided some Miami magic in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of their first-round series, but that wasn’t the same case for Game 2.
Even with Victor Oladipo cleared to play for the Pacers after his eye injury, the Heat never trailed in the second half and coasted to a 109-100 win to go up 2-0.
Duncan Robinson was a big reason why the heat managed that.
The second-year forward’s emergence as a key player for the Heat, and one of the most dangerous shooters in the league, has been one of the best stories of the season.
In Game 2, he drained 3-pointers on the first two possessions and went on from there, finishing with 24 points on 7 of 8 from downtown.
His seven 3s tied a Heat franchise record and put him in a club with Finals legend Robert Horry as the only two players in postseason history to ever hit seven-plus 3s without even attempting a two-pointer. Admittedly that second “record” is extremely niche, but it’s a neat little note nonetheless.
His record-breaking performance helped the Heat take a commanding 2-0 lead in what was supposed to be one of the most competitive first-round series in the NBA Playoffs 2020. Robinson’s performance highlights an important point about this Miami team.
Oklahoma City Thunder 98-111 Houston Rockets
After losing Russell Westbrook to injury, the Houston Rockets now turn to James Harden to run the show as they lead their first-round series 2-0 against the Oklahoma City Thunder because of everybody except Harden.
Houston’s former MVP shot 5 of 16 for 21 points but it didn’t matter as seven Rockets hit double figures in what was an amazingly balanced attack. Houston won 111-98 over Oklahoma City.
The Thunder now have their backs against the wall, but can take positives away from from the fact that rookie Lu Dort could be something big. The rookie, who missed Game 1, took the Harden assignment himself and absolutely flummoxed the NBA’s leading scorer.
The Thunder need to go back to the drawing board offensively, but if they can continue to contain Harden like this, they’ll be able to make this a series.