National Basketball Association roundup: LeBron loses Lakers debut at Portland

LeBron-Lakers-FTR

The Lakers begin their season on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night at 10:30 pm ET on TNT, before returning back in L.A. for the home opener against the Houston Rockets on Saturday night on ESPN. He missed Los Angeles' first four preseason games as he continues his recovery from offseason knee surgery to fix a torn left meniscus. Portland is a flawed team; outside of its terrific backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, the Blazers don't have much firepower or skill.

The opening festivities were tempered by the death this week of Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen.

James' 26 points matched Magic Johnson's total in his Lakers' debut, and fell short of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 27 points and Elign Baylor's 35 in their first games in purple and gold, according to basketball-reference.com. James immediately hit back, weaving through defenders for another emphatic dunk to record his second basket as a new Laker. The Lakers, despite an impressive commitment to their preferred style of play, just aren't on the same page yet.

And while the Lakers don't have many credible threats from three-point range, they also won't be this bad on a regular basis. "I always kind of compare it to instant oatmeal". It's not that fast. "It takes awhile for the chemistry to get to where you close your eyes and you know exactly where your guys are".

There was abundant evidence of the Lakers' lack of familiarity.

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The four-time league MVP joined a revamped group that includes veterans Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley, as well as a young core of Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and rookie Moe Wagner.

Ball is will also be on a minutes restriction for the night, Luke Walton said during the morning shootaround. Portland's advantage was 93-91 heading into the final period.

On the court, the focus was all on James.

And Los Angeles dunked. He didn't want to celebrate the dunks or stew too long over the Game 1 miscues, instead projecting steadiness and restraint.

"For me it's an everyday thing".

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