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LeBron James leads Lakers past Trail Blazers for 2-1 series lead

It was in the third quarter, again, in which the Los Angeles Lakers finally pulled away from the pesky Portland Trail Blazers and began to treat them the way a top seed should treat its first-round opponent.

It was in the third quarter, again, in which the Los Angeles Lakers finally pulled away from the pesky Portland Trail Blazers and began to treat them the way a top seed should treat its first-round opponent.

With general manager and vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka howling and clapping from an elevated seat in the socially distanced spectator area Saturday night, the Lakers beat the Trail Blazers 116-108 in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series to take a 2-1 lead.

The Lakers have won back-to-back games against Portland after dropping Game 1.

LeBron James finished with 38 points, eight assists and 12 rebounds, while Anthony Davis also neared a triple-double with 29 points, eight assists and 11 rebounds. The Lakers also got double-digit scoring contributions from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso.

The Lakers again held the Trail Blazers’ dangerous offense to well below its bubble average. Portland guard Damian Lillard finished with 34 points, while his teammate CJ McCollum added 28.

Lillard had the first two fingers on his left hand wrapped after dislocating his right index finger during Thursday’s game.

The Blazers guard never considered missing Saturday’s game because of the injury but didn’t do any on-court work between games. At one point in the first quarter, Caldwell-Pope landed on Lillard, causing the Portland star to gingerly hold his fingers.

But if the injury bothered him otherwise, it didn’t show. In the first quarter, Lillard scored 14 points on four-for-seven shooting while also making three three-pointers.

The Lakers planned to have Rajon Rondo active for the game, but he began experiencing back spasms during pregame warmups and could not play.

With little success against Davis in Game 2, the Trail Blazers shook up their frontcourt, starting Hassan Whiteside instead of rookie Wenyen Gabriel, and moving Jusuf Nurkic to power forward. The Lakers were undeterred in attacking the paint.

Free throws, though, proved to be an early nemesis. The Lakers missed 13 free throws in the first half and trailed by four at halftime.

In the third quarter, they built a lead of 12 but still had trouble pulling away from Portland until late in the fourth.

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