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Lakers vs Trail Blazers points, highlights: LeBron James has a strong debut, but L.A.'s problem is obviously in loss

LeBron James made his debut on the Lakers on Thursday in a 128-119 loss for Portland Trail Blazers. There were…

LeBron James made his debut on the Lakers on Thursday in a 128-119 loss for Portland Trail Blazers. There were many things to think about how the Lakers played, but there were also some reasons for concern as well. Here are five quick takeaways.

How long until LeBron takes more control?

The king posted 13 points on 5-of-6 shots in his first quarter for the Lakers, as with Rajon Rondo who led the beat, they all played as if they were shot out of a cannon. When the game was on, LeBron steered his possessions a bit more, but he was clear in “getting everyone involved” for most of the night and did a good deal of his injury in the gaps &#821

1; he did a good cut to the baseline of a Rondo- pass, and he had a few offensive backs (he only had 34 of them all last year). The 13 points were a career first quarter high for LeBron, if you can believe it.

All said, LeBron posted 26 points, 12 boards and six assists in 38 minutes. It was an easy line. LeBron made it possible for Rondo to control much of the halfway break, and Rondo was really good at 13 points and 11 assists as a plus-11 in his 32 minutes. This has been a big story, LeBron played more of the ball, and he definitely made a bit more of it in the opener than we previously seen. He found Brandon Ingram on a fine high pass over the top. He created corner 3s for Ingram with a little splitting together with Rondo in the middle. He ran the wing on breaks rather than getting the outlet and shooting the ball himself.

There were good things to deal with this, namely the fact that six Lakers scored 13 points or more. Ingram was nice in the third quarter after struggling a bit during the first half; He could have the biggest adjustment of any Latter who played more without the ball. Josh Hart lights up with 20 points. In the second half, he finished a beautiful move, refusing LeBron’s ball shield and going to the rim. He went 3-of-5 from three. Kyle Kuzma was aggressive all night and finished 15 points.

Still lost the Lakers. LeBron never came into the “I’ll take this game over” mode, and at some point maybe he must start doing it more often. When will that point be? How will it happen? It’s a difficult situation because in the west, LeBron can not do it alone. In the east it was good. But in the west he needs these guys to be really good with him. In many ways they were on Thursday. In a big way they were not. What brings us to …

Visas are shooting kind of great thing

This has been a concern about Lakers ever since they started putting this super strange roster along with the signals Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley and JaVale McGee : Who will make a shot? Particularly 3 pointers? On Thursday, the Lakers shot 7-of-30 from deep. That’s 23 percent. The Blazers did 13 3s at a 35 percent cut. For all purposes, that was the difference.

We all know that LeBron has traditionally worked most successfully in a mostly four-out set, especially in his final stint with Cleveland, shooting around him to hold the floor and open the track for his defense balls. Ingram put up the store in the corner like a spotted guy early and missed two open 3s; he went 0-for-4 from deep to the match. Kuzma went 1-for-7. Lonzo Ball went 1-for-4. Stephenson was 0-for-3. LeBron, for his part, also took a monk from the depths of four attempts.

Quite simply, if you can not make 3s, or protect against 3s at the other end, you’re in a world of trouble. There are things that can be adapted to become a better defensive team against 3, but knock-down shooters will not only suddenly appear on the Lakers roster. Lakers fans can hold out the hope that Kuzma has a hot year (he is capable) and either Ingram or Ball becomes hot in some form of shifting role from game to game. These things are not completely unreasonable, but neither are they reliable developments either. We’ll see.

We may have a Lonzo issue

Currently, Ball has lost its starting job to Rondo, and if Thursday night is an indication, he will not get it back anytime soon. Again, Rondo was really good, and Lonzo was pretty much the exact opposite – who sent seven points and one assists in 2-of-7 photography for a team-low minus-15 in his 19 minutes. Yuk.

It’s been a lot of talk about how Lonzo really is a really good off-ball player, but I’ve never bought it and still do not. He is not a good shooter, simple and simple. He is too willing to be a driver in the half-court, often getting rid of the ball as a hot potato. If the Lakers continue to play super fast and can create a ball and player-motion-based halfway break where cuts and screening actions are consistently performed, Ball has a natural feel for that kind of inclusivity. But everything was due to his energy, and quite simply he only went through the motions on Thursday. If you give up the ball and just stand there, and you can not shoot at a level that scares defense at least, you are a non-factor.

It was Lonzo on Thursday night. A complete and total non-factor. There is a real swag that comes with starting a basketball game. This is true at all levels, from junior high up. It’s a pride. A matter of trust. For a young player, it’s easy to look at the bench as a demotion rather than an opportunity to influence the game in a different way – say how Andre Iguodala sees his role in the Golden State. It’s veteran stuff. For young guys it can be hard to be assertive when you have just demoted. Lonzo, who has never been so self-adhesive to begin with, better calculate how to do it, otherwise he will be used to backup.

Little love for Blazers

Blazers is questioned every year. Every year they are good. Here is the deal: No team with Damian Lillard on it will ever be a bad team. I am convinced of this and have been a long time. Lillard went for 28 points, six rebounds and four assists. He compensated a tough day by going 8-to-8 on the free kick. This is what stars do, and Lillard is a rock star. Must be in the MVP conversation every year. Do not let anyone tell you. Just look at how he answers LeBron’s huge dunk with one of his own.

I talked to Terry Stotts this summer and he told me that one of Blazer’s main focuses this year would be the 3-point line – both shoot more than they did last year and defended it at the other end. As mentioned above, they closed the 3-point attack of the Lakers and made 13 of their own deep-thanks largely to Nik Stauska’s seasonal opening surprise, which went 5 to 8 from deep to 24-point pointing out the bench. CJ McCollum finished 21 points at 3-of-6 from deep. The Portland bench was fantastic as a group.

Stotts also said that he wanted the team to create more crimes against the pass this year than to isolate quite so much. It can still get better – they only had 21 assistance on Thursday. But listen, to some extent you ride the horses you have, and Lillard and McCollum are the horses. Why people are always afraid to bet on them is beyond me.

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