The LeBron James Lakers Era started on Thursday night with a 128-119 opening night loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. The excitement and social media-inspired hype about King James joining Magic and Co. in LA has been ramped up since the four-time MVP left Cleveland to come to Hollywood.
🎥 Luke Walton details the Lakers opening night loss in Portland. https://t.co/UHey7nceFz
Early predictions for the Lakers this season have been all over the place, with some Stans picking Bron and his eclectic mix of young talent, vocal vets and two-point shooters to finish as high as third and possibly be in the mix for a championship by next season.
“As a Lakers fan, I would be highly happy, because they played well enough to win if they were at home. Winning on the road in the NBA is just a chemistry you have to learn, ” said NBA on TNT analyst Kenny Smith. I would be encouraged.”
On the flip side, some have offered the opinion that LeBron won’t make the playoffs and he “doesn’t have enough” to compete with the goliaths of the Western Conference.
“I still think the Lakers are a sixth, seventh seed at best,” said Charles Barkley after the game.
The Trailblazers were inspired by their longtime owner Paul Allen who passed away this week at age 65. The backcourt of Damian “Dame D.O.L.L.A.” Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for 49 points. James, who scored 26 points with 12 rebounds and six assists in his Lakers debut, called for patience as the newly-constructed team develops a system that lends itself to winning.
🎥 In his Lakers debut, LeBron finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 helpers tonight against Portland. https://t.co/t6puVg2tby
“I always compare it to instant oatmeal, it’s not that fast, it takes a while for the chemistry to get to where you could close your eyes and know exactly where your guys are. That’s what we’re gonna work towards,” he said. “It’s still early, still gotta go through some things, go through some adversity and see how we react to it.
“Just the timing with some of our passes. I had one in the fourth quarter where I expected Kuz [Kyle Kuzma] to pop, he rolled and I threw it out of bounds.
The potential is there, but the flaws are obvious.
“They played with great energy and speed, but they have to find some rebounding and a knock down shooter,” added Shaq, referencing the Lakers shooting 7-of-30 from trey land. In today’s NBA you have to shoot three.”
The NBA world is anxious for Showtime to return to LA, but LeBron put everything into perspective and reminded everyone after the game that this is a marathon and not a sprint. Folks shouldn’t expect the Lakers to be Golden State or even the Houston Rockets so soon.
Bron’s 26 points was the second most points he’s had in a debut with a new team. In his inaugural game with the Miami Heat in 2010, Bron dropped 31. The point total was also the second best Lakers debut ever, just one short of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record.
🎥 @KingJames shares his thoughts following his first game as a Laker https://t.co/uKrFT8S2o8
Overall, the Lakers have some work to do. Josh Hart is going to have to carry a huge offensive load.
🎥 Josh Hart stepped up in the second half, finishing with 20 points and 3 steals in the season opener against Portland. https://t.co/t0Ey2xNpO8
Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram are going to have to play better defense and combine for more than 31 points if the Lakers are going to move into the upper echelon of high-scoring, three-balling Western Conference squads.