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Lakers - Trail Blazers Rivalry

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Lakers-Trail Blazers Rivalry
Teams
Post-season history

The Lakers-Trail Blazers rivalry is a National Basketball Association (NBA) rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers. The teams have met in the playoffs 10 times, with the Lakers winning eight of these series and the Trail Blazers winning only two playoff series. However, the rivalry has become less significant in recent years, with neither team facing in the playoffs since 2002.[1]

1970s and 1980s[edit | edit source]

Background[edit | edit source]

The Portland Trail Blazers were incepted into the league in the in 1970-71 NBA Season as an expansion team, and were placed in the Pacific Division for the Western Conference alongside with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Trail Blazers ended their inaugural season with a 29-53 record[2], whilst the Lakers made the Western Conference Finals led by Wilt Chamberlain. The Trail Blazers, at the time led by Geoff Petrie and Sidney Wicks, failed to make the playoffs in their first six seasons. Meanwhile, the Lakers made the finals twice, winning once in 1972 and running-up in 1973. The Trail Blazers acquired Bill Walton in the 1974 NBA Draft and Maurice Lucas in the ABA Dispersal Draft. Meanwhile, the Lakers traded Elmore Smith, Brian Winters, Dave Meyers and Junior Bridgeman for three-time MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1975 offseason.[3]

1977 Western Conference Finals[edit | edit source]

Bill Walton led the Trail Blazers to the 1977 Finals.

The Lakers and Trail Blazers first faced in the playoffs in the 1977 Western Conference Finals, where the Blazers swept the favored Lakers 4-0.[4] The Lakers led by Abdul-Jabbar, who had just won his fourth MVP, [5] finished at the top of the Western Conference with a 53-29 record. Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers finished with a 49-33 record, led by Bill Walton, who led the league in blocks per game and rebounds per game.[6] The series was touted to be a battle of the two former UCLA big men, with the two future hall-of-famers Abdul-Jabbar and Walton, who was finally healthy, going head to head. Despite the series loss, Abdul-Jabbar outscored Walton 30.9 to 19.2 points per game. [7]

The Trail Blazers won Game 1 one the road 121-109, with four of their five starters scoring at least 20 points.[8] The Blazers took a 2-0 series lead heading back home, winning 99-97 despite 40 points from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Lakers had a chance to tie, but Abdul-Jabbar missed the game-tying shot with five seconds to go. [9] The Trail Blazers won Game 3 102-97, led by 22 points from both Bill Walton and Maurice Lucas. Walton scored his last 14 points in the last 5:18 minutes, including a dunk over Abdul-Jabbar, as the Trail Blazers overcame a fourth quarter deficit to win the game. [9] The Trail Blazers would complete the upset sweep over the Lakers in Game 4 where they won 105-101, led by Maurice Lucas' 26 points. [10]

The Trail Blazers would eventually win their first NBA Finals, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 4-2.[11]

1980s[edit | edit source]

The 1980s marked an era of dominance from the Lakers over the Trail Blazers, winning all three of the playoff series between the two sides. Their first meeting was in 1983, where the Showtime Lakers, led by Magic Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, their number one draft pick from the previous year James Worthy, and new head coach Pat Riley, defeated the Blazers 4-1 in the Western Conference semi-finals.[12]

In 1985, the Lakers would once again defeat the Trail Blazers 4-1 in the conference semi-finals. The Lakers would go on to win 4-2 in the finals against the Boston Celtics.[13]

The final playoff series between the two teams in the 1980s occurred during the first round of the 1989 Playoffs, where the Lakers swept the Trail Blazers 3-0.[14]

1990s[edit | edit source]

Early 90s[edit | edit source]

1991 Western Conference Finals[edit | edit source]

The Lakers defeated the Trail Blazers in the 1991 Western Conference Finals 4-2.[15]

The 1990 offseason saw Pat Riley, the five-time championship coach of the showtime Lakers, step down as head coach, and was replaced by Mike Dunleavy Sr. The Dunleavy coached Lakers would finish third in the Western Conference with a 58-24 record.[16] Meanwhile, Portland finished top of the Western Conference with a 63-19 record, led by their new core of All-Star guards Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter.[17]

The Lakers won Game 1 on the road 111-106 behind 28 points from James Worthy. In Game 2, Portland evened the series 1-1 behind 26 points from Terry Porter on 12 of 15 shooting from the field, including a 20-foot jumpshot in the last two minutes to seal the game, as well as 21 points and 10 rebounds from Clyde Drexler.[18]

The Lakers won Game 3 106-92 behind a 25-point performance from James Worthy.[19] The Lakers took out a commanding 3-1 lead, blowing Portland out in Game 4 116-95, with Magic Johnson leading with a near triple double of 22 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists.[20] However, the Blazers won Game 5 95-84. [21]

The Lakers clinched a spot in the Finals in Game 6, winning 91-90, as Lakers managed to hold on to the lead despite the Trail Blazers rallying from 15 points behind. [22] Portland missed two opportunities to take the lead late in the game, with Cliff Robinson dropping a pass out of bounds on a fast break with less than a minute left at 88-89, and Terry Porter missing a jumpshot for the lead in the final seconds of the game.[22]

The Lakers would go on to lose to the Chicago Bulls 4-1 in the NBA Finals.[23]

1992 Western Conference First Round[edit | edit source]

The Trail Blazers defeated the Lakers in the first round of the 1992 playoffs 3-1 en route to the NBA Finals. The Lakers barely made the playoffs as the 8th seed, as the 1991-92 NBA season was the Lakers' first season since 1979 without Magic Johnson, who announced his retirement after testing positive to HIV.[24] The Lakers also missed James Worthy, who suffered a season ending knee injury towards the end of the season. [25]

The Trail Blazers won comfortably in Game 1 115-102.[26] The Trail Blazers Game 2 won game to in a 101-79 blowout, before losing Game 3 119-121. [27] [28] However, Portland managed to close out the series in a 102-76 blowout win in Game 4. [29]

Portland would go on to proceed to the NBA finals. However, the Trail Blazers would go on to lose to the NBA Finals to the Chicago Bulls 4-2.[30]

Late 90s[edit | edit source]

1998 Western Conference First Round[edit | edit source]

The third seeded Lakers defeated the sixth seeded Trail Blazers 3-1 in the first round of the 1998 playoffs. The Lakers won Game 1 104-102, led by 30 points from Shaquille O'Neal.[31] The Lakers would further their lead, winning Game 2 108-99, [32] before the Blazers won Game 3 99-94. [33] However, the Lakers defeat to Portland in Game 4 110-99 to advance to the next round of the playoffs. [34]

2000s[edit | edit source]

Early 2000s[edit | edit source]

O'Neal won MVP in 2000.

2000 Western Conference Finals[edit | edit source]

The Blazers and Lakers faced in the Western Conference Finals most recently in 2000, where the Lakers defeated the Blazers 4-3.[35]

Prior to the 1999-2000 NBA Season, the Lakers replaced Kurt Rambis with Phil Jackson, who had won 6 championships with the Chicago Bulls, to team up with young All-Star Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. The Lakers finished at the top of the Western Conference with a 67-15 record, with O'Neal winning the league MVP. Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers finished 3rd in the West with a 59-23 record, led by Rasheed Wallace and Jackson's former Chicago All-Star Scottie Pippen.

The Lakers won Game 1 at home 109-94, behind a 41-point effort from O'Neal. However, the Blazers kept O'Neal to 23 points in Game 2 in a 106-77 blowout win to level the series, behind 29 points from Rasheed Wallace and 24 from Steve Smith. However, the Lakers took the next two games on the road, winning Game 3 93-91 behind Ron Harper's go ahead basket with 29.9 seconds left. The Blazers had a chance to tie the game, but Arvydas Sabonis' layup attempt was blocked by Kobe Bryant.[36] The Lakers took a 3-1 series lead in Game 4, winning 103-91. [37]

The Blazers won Game 5 96-88 on the road, with Rasheed Wallace and Scottie Pippen scoring 22 points each to keep the series alive. The Blazers evened up the series 3-3 with a 103-93 victory in Game 6 behind 26 points from Steve Smith and 20 points in 19 minutes off the bench from Bonzi Wells.[38] The Game 6 defeat meant that the Lakers were on the verge of being only the 7th team to blow a 3-1 series lead. [39]

In Game 7, the Lakers came back from a 16-point deficit to win 89-84 at the Staples Center. Portland led 73-58 going into the fourth quarter, but were outscored 13-31 by the Lakers. The Lakers' comeback was capped off by an alley-oop from Kobe Bryant to Shaquille O'Neal.[39]

The Lakers would go on to defeat the Indiana Pacers 4-2 in the 2000 NBA Finals.[40]

2001 Western Conference First Round[edit | edit source]

The second seeded Lakers swept the seventh seeded Trail Blazers 3-0 in the first round of the 2001 NBA Playoffs. The Lakers won Game 1 106-93, Game 2 106-88 and Game 3 99-86 in their sweep. Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant averaged 27 and 25 points per game respectively in the series.[41]

The Lakers would go on to the NBA Finals, where they would defeat the Philadelphia 76ers and win the Championship.[42]

2002 Western Conference First Round[edit | edit source]

The Lakers swept the Trail Blazers 3-0 in the first round for the second year in a row in the 2002 NBA Playoffs. The Lakers won Game 1 95-87 behind 34 points from Kobe Bryant.[43] The Lakers also won Game 2 103-96 through 31 points from Shaquille O'Neal. [44] The Lakers would finish their sweep in Game 3 92-91, with Robert Horry scoring the game-winning three pointer to help the Lakers advance to the next round. [45]

The Lakers would go on to win the championship, defeating the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals, to complete their third consecutive championship.[46]

2010 - Present[edit | edit source]

The two teams have not met in the playoffs since 2002.[1]

Current Trail Blazers all-star Damian Lillard made his NBA debut on October 31, 2012, scoring 23 points and 11 assists in a 116-106 victory against a heavily favored Lakers team who had acquired two-time MVP Steve Nash and former defensive player of the year Dwight Howard in the previous offseason to team up with Kobe Bryant.

The Blazers currently have a 16-game win streak over the Lakers, dating back to April 2014, their second longest win streak over another franchise.[47]

Although the rivalry has dwindled since the retirement of Kobe Bryant in 2016,[48] both teams have had success in with their young cores in the NBA Summer League, where the two teams faced in the finals in both 2017 and 2018.[49] The Lakers won the 2017 Summer League Final 110-98, led by Kyle Kuzma's 30 point performance; Kuzma would go on to win the Summer League Finals MVP, whilst teammate Lonzo Ball was named Summer League MVP. [50] The Trail Blazers would win the 2018 Summer League in a 91-73 blowout victory, led by 17 points from Summer League Finals MVP K. J. McDaniels. [51]

The Lakers signed four time MVP LeBron James in the 2018 offseason.[52] James made his Lakers debut on October 18 against the Blazers, where they were defeated 119-128, despite 26 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists from James.[53]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "NBA & ABA Playoffs Series History". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  2. "1970-71 Portland Trail Blazers Roster and Stats | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-10-09.
  3. Cady, Steve. "Abdul‐Jabbar Traded by Bucks for Four Lakers". Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  4. "1977 NBA Western Conference Finals - Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-09-11.
  5. "NBA MVP Award Winners | NBA.com". NBA.com. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  6. "1976-77 NBA Leaders | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  7. "Dunk History: A healthy Bill Walton meets Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the summit". Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  8. "Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers Box Score, May 6, 1977 | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "L.A. COULDN'T MOVE THE MOUNTAIN". Vault. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  10. "1977: Lakers vs. Trail Blazers". Los Angeles Lakers. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  11. "1977 NBA Finals - Portland Trail Blazers vs. Philadelphia 76ers". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  12. "1983 NBA Western Conference Semifinals - Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  13. "1985 NBA Western Conference Semifinals - Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  14. "1977 NBA Finals - Portland Trail Blazers vs. Philadelphia 76ers". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  15. "1991 NBA Western Conference Finals - Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  16. "1990-91 Los Angeles Lakers Roster and Stats". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  17. "1990-91 Portland Trail Blazers Roster and Stats". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  18. AP. "BASKETBALL; Trail Blazers Get Even With Lakers". Retrieved 2018-09-11.
  19. "Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers Box Score, May 24, 1991 | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  20. Araton, Harvey. "BASKETBALL; Lakers On the Freeway To Finals". Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  21. "Los Angeles Lakers at Portland Trail Blazers Box Score, May 28, 1991 | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  22. 22.0 22.1 HEISLER, MARK (1991-05-31). "Lakers Survive Final Threat : Western Conference: Porter misses, Johnson passes and Los Angeles wins right to play Bulls, 91-90". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  23. "1991 NBA Finals - Los Angeles Lakers vs. Chicago Bulls". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  24. "ESPN.com - ESPN 25 - 7: Magic Johnson announces he's HIV-positive". 2011-09-14. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  25. HARVEY, RANDY (1992-03-19). "Worthy to Have Knee Surgery". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  26. "Los Angeles Lakers at Portland Trail Blazers Box Score, April 23, 1992 | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  27. "Los Angeles Lakers at Portland Trail Blazers Box Score, April 25, 1992 | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  28. "Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers Box Score, April 29, 1992 | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  29. "Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers Box Score, May 3, 1992 | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  30. "1992 NBA Finals - Portland Trail Blazers vs. Chicago Bulls". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  31. "Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers Box Score, April 24, 1998 | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  32. "Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers Box Score, April 26, 1998 | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  33. "Los Angeles Lakers at Portland Trail Blazers Box Score, April 28, 1998 | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  34. "Los Angeles Lakers at Portland Trail Blazers Box Score, April 30, 1998 | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  35. "2000 NBA Western Conference Finals - Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  36. KAWAKAMI, TIM (2000-05-27). "Lakers Regain Their Edge on Road as Harper's Shot Beat Trail Blazers". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  37. "Los Angeles Lakers at Portland Trail Blazers Box Score, May 28, 2000 | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  38. Spousta, Tom. "PRO BASKETBALL; Blazers' Play Forces The Lakers To Game 7". Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  39. 39.0 39.1 Staff, NBA.com. "Top Moments: Famous alley-oop from Kobe to Shaq caps Lakers' comeback | NBA.com". NBA.com. Retrieved 2018-09-11.
  40. "2000 NBA Finals - Indiana Pacers vs. Los Angeles Lakers". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  41. "2001 NBA Western Conference First Round - Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  42. "2001 NBA Finals - Philadelphia 76ers vs. Los Angeles Lakers". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  43. "Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers Box Score, April 21, 2002 | Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  44. Arkush, Michael. "PRO BASKETBALL; Lakers Hold Off the Blazers And Move Closer to a Sweep". Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  45. Press, LANDON HALLThe Associated. "Horry, Lakers extinguish Blazers". Arizona Daily Sun. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  46. "2002 NBA Finals - New Jersey Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  47. "Streaks Preserved, Allen Honored In Opening Night Win Versus Lakers | Portland Trail Blazers". Portland Trail Blazers. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  48. "Kobe Bryant's final game in Portland marks end of an era for Trail Blazers fans' last true villain". OregonLive.com. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  49. "Summer league title game stars to watch when the real season tips". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2018-09-11.
  50. "Lakers beat Trail Blazers to win Summer League Finals". SBNation.com. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  51. "The Trail Blazers blew the Lakers out of Las Vegas to win the Summer League Finals". SBNation.com. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  52. "LeBron signs with LA Lakers". NBC Sports Washington. 2018-07-01. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  53. "NBA Games Played on October 18, 2018". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2019-05-27.

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