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Monday's NBA playoffs: Emotional LeBron ‘can’t even enjoy’ Lakers’ win over Blazers

Associated Press

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — LeBron James took note when the Los Angeles Lakers built an early 24-8 lead over the Trail Blazers on Kobe Bryant Day.

“OK, he’s here in the building,” James said he thought in the moment, when the two numbers that Bryant wore during his career appeared on the scoreboard.

The Los Angeles Lakers dominated Portland the rest of the way Monday night, winning 135-115 to take a 3-1 advantage in their playoff series.

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, right, drives against Portland Trail Blazers' Carmelo Anthony, left, during the second quarter Monday.

James had 30 points and 10 assists in 28 minutes before heading to the bench late in the third quarter. The Lakers led by as many as 38 points for their third straight win in the opening-round series, the team’s first playoff appearance since 2013.

After the game, James detailed the emotional burden of both honoring Bryant and coping with the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

“I can’t even enjoy a playoff win right now, which is the sad part,” he said.

James spoke at length about the shooting, which has sparked violent protests. Blake, who remained hospitalized on Monday, was shot, apparently in the back, as he leaned into his SUV while his three children sat in the vehicle.

“We are scared as Black people in America,” James said. “Black men, Black women, Black kids. We are, we are terrified.”

The Trail Blazers won the opener but have appeared gassed in the past two games. Damian Lillard, the MVP of the seeding games in the NBA bubble, had 11 points before leaving with a right knee injury in the third. Jusuf Nurkic had 20 points and 13 rebounds.

Anthony Davis added 18 points in 18 minutes for the Lakers before leaving the game midway through the third with back spasms.

The Lakers, the top seed in the Western Conference, can close out the series on Wednesday.

After the game, Blazers coach Terry Stotts was asked to describe his team’s position.

“Not good,” he said.

“You’re down 1-3, it’s a tough position against a good team,” Stotts added. “We’ll regroup, it’s one game at a time. You can break out all the cliches, but we know what we’re up against when you’re down to a good team 3-1, so we’ve got to battle.”

It was considered “Kobe Day” because Monday was 8/24, the two numbers Bryant wore during his 20-year career.

Los Angeles wore “Black Mamba” jerseys with a heart-shaped No. 2 patch to honor Bryant’s daughter, Gianna.

Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash with his daughter in January, would have celebrated his 42nd birthday on Sunday.

“To be able to continue his legacy is something that hits home for me, and it’s easy for me because I put in the work,” James said. “And if you want to see results you got to work at it. It’s not about the wins and losses.”

Inspired by Bryant, the Lakers’ 24-8 lead seemed fortuitous, and they went on to outscore the Blazers 43-25 in the first quarter.

The Lakers led 80-51 at the half. It was the most points in a half for Los Angeles in a playoff game since 1987.

James nailed 3-pointer from some 36 feet out and then demonstratively nodded as the Lakers took an 80-53 lead.

Lillard dislocated his left index finger in Game 2 and backcourt mate CJ McCollum has been playing with a fractured vertebra in his lower back.

Stotts said following the game that he did not have an update on Lillard’s status. He was undergoing an MRI.

More NBA playoffs

Milwaukee 121, Orlando 106: Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists, Khris Middleton finally came alive with a huge fourth quarter and the Bucks beat the Magic to take a 3-1 lead in the first-round series.

Middleton scored 18 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 10 rebounds after being held to one field goal in the first three quarters on 1-of-9 shooting.

Wesley Matthews added 12 points for the Bucks, who can close out the Magic on Wednesday.

“It’s just intensity and attention to detail,” Matthews said after the game. “Game 1 we came out a little flat. Credit the Magic, they made shots. … We had to pick up our intensity.”

Nikola Vucevic continued his strong play for the Magic, finishing with 31 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Terrence Ross had 19 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Milwaukee has now won three straight after losing the series opener to the eighth-seeded Magic.

The top-seeded Bucks led by three entering the fourth quarter before Middleton came alive. He scored 11 points during an 18-2 run on three 3-pointers and a mid-range jumper off an inbouds play to help the Bucks build a 102-83 lead as the Magic went cold from outside.

Antetokounmpo finished the game 14 of 21 from the field, but did most of his damage inside the paint where he was 12 of 14.

Oklahoma City Thunder's Dennis Schroder (17) scores against Houston Rockets' Jeff Green, right, during the second quarter Monday. Schroder finished with 30 points in a 117-114 Oklahoma City victory to even the first-round series 2-2.

Oklahoma City 117, Houston 114: Dennis Schroder scored a career playoff-high 30 points, and Oklahoma City rallied to beat Houston and even the first-round Western Conference playoff series at two wins apiece.

Oklahoma City trailed by 15 points in the third quarter and was down a point heading into the fourth.

Chris Paul scored 26 points and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Thunder, who won despite allowing 23 3-pointers.

James Harden had 32 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds for Houston. Eric Gordon scored 23 points and Danuel House Jr. added 21 for the Rockets.

Former Thunder star Russell Westbrook sat out for Houston again with a strained right quad.

Miami 99, Indianapolis 87: Goran Dragic scored 23 points and fifth-seeded Miami completed a first-round sweep of Indiana.

Tyler Herro had 16 points and Bam Adebayo added 14 points and 19 rebounds for the Heat, who made it out of the first round for the first time since 2016.

Victor Oladipo had 25 points and Myles Turner added 22 points and 14 rebounds for the Pacers, who have dropped four straight postseason series to the Heat since 2012.

Miami’s bench outscored Indiana’s depleted reserves 38-3.

Heat guard Jimmy Butler left the game in the first quarter with a left shoulder strain. He returned after halftime and finished with six points in 23 minutes.

Eastern Conference

Milwaukee 3, Orlando 1

Tuesday, Aug. 18: Orlando, 122, Milwaukee 110

Thursday, Aug. 20: Milwaukee 111, Orlando 96

Saturday, Aug. 22: Milwaukee 121, Orlando 107

Monday, Aug. 24: Milwaukee 121, Orlando 106

Wednesday, Aug. 26: Orlando vs. Milwaukee, 4 p.m.

x-Friday, Aug. 28: Milwaukee vs. Orlando, TBD

x-Sunday, Aug. 30: Orlando vs. Milwaukee, TBD

Toronto 4, Brooklyn 0

Monday, Aug. 17: Toronto 134, Brooklyn 110

Wednesday, Aug. 19: Toronto 104, Brooklyn 99

Friday, Aug. 21: Toronto 117, Brooklyn 92

Sunday, Aug. 23: Toronto 150, Brooklyn 122

Boston 4, Philadelphia 0

Monday, Aug. 17: Boston 109, Philadelphia 101

Wednesday, Aug. 19: Boston 128, Philadelphia 101

Friday, Aug. 21: Boston 102, Philadelphia 94

Sunday, Aug. 23: Boston 110, Philadelphia 106

Miami 4, Indiana 0

Tuesday, Aug. 18: Miami 113 Indiana 101

Thursday, Aug. 20: Miami 109, Indiana 100

Saturday, Aug. 22: Miami 124, Indiana 115

Monday, Aug. 24: Miami 99, Indiana 87

Western Conference

L.A. Lakers 3, Portland 1

Tuesday, Aug. 18: Portland 100, L.A. Lakers 93

Thursday, Aug. 20: L.A. Laker 111, Portland 88

Saturday, Aug. 22: L.A. Lakers 116, Portland 108

Monday, Aug. 24: L.A. Lakers 135,  Portland 115

Wednesday, Aug. 26: Portland vs. L.A. Lakers, 9 p.m.

x-Friday, Aug. 28: L.A. Lakers vs. Portland, TBD

x-Sunday, Aug. 30: Portland vs. L.A. Lakers, TBD

L.A. Clippers 2, Dallas 2

Monday, Aug. 17: L.A. Clippers 118, Dallas 110

Wednesday, Aug. 19: Dallas 127, L.A. Clippers 114

Friday, Aug. 21: L.A. Clippers 130, Dallas 122

Sunday, Aug. 23: Dallas 135, L.A. Clippers 133, OT

Tuesday, Aug. 25: Dallas vs. L.A. Clippers, 9 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 27: L.A. Clippers vs. Dallas, 9 p.m.

x-Saturday, Aug. 29: Dallas vs. L.A. Clippers, TBD

Utah 3, Denver 1

Monday, Aug. 17: Denver 135, Utah 125, OT

Wednesday, Aug. 19: Utah 124, Denver 105

Friday, Aug. 21: Utah 124, Denver 87

Sunday, Aug. 23: Utah 129, Denver 127

Tuesday, Aug. 25: Utah vs. Denver, 6:30 p.m.

x-Thursday, Aug. 27: Denver vs Utah, 4 p.m.

x-Saturday, Aug. 29: Utah vs. Denver, TBD

Houston 2, Oklahoma City 2

Tuesday, Aug. 18: Houston 123, Oklahoma City 108

Thursday, Aug. 20: Houston 112, Oklahoma City 98

Saturday, Aug. 22: Oklahoma City 119, Houston 107, OT

Monday, Aug. 24: Oklahoma City 117, Houston 114

Wednesday, Aug. 26: Oklahoma City vs. Houston, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 28: Houston vs. Oklahoma City, TBD

x-Sunday, Aug. 30: Oklahoma City vs. Houston, TBD