Alexander: Was it really the medical info that held up Mookie Betts trade?

first_img Alexander: Lakers-Blazers is not your typical No. 1 vs. No. 8 series The world according to Jim:• Nearly a week ago, L.A. rejoiced. The Dodgers, who swing for the fences plenty on the field but have been  overly risk-averse otherwise, turned bold and (apparently) came away with one of baseball’s elite players, Mookie Betts.Finally, on Sunday, Dodger fans are closer to being able to celebrate but only after exhaling, having stewed for a week over whether this thing was going to get done or not.• In the meantime, eight players on four different teams – and who knows how many additional prospects – were in a state of uncertainty, with a trade contingent on medical clearance hung up because the Boston Red Sox decided that the reliever they were getting, Brusdar Graterol, evidently wasn’t healthy enough to be the starter they needed. • On a related note, the Padres traded for Tampa Bay closer Emilio Pagán Saturday, and if you’re a Dodger fan you might have, in a momentary panic, interpreted that as A.J. Preller preparing to assemble another package to offer the Red Sox. Then again, Manuel Margot, who went to the Rays in this deal, was part of San Diego’s original offer. What was Preller going to do, offer the Sox Wil Myers’ bloated contract?Either way, Pagán adds to another stacked Padres bullpen. But a Dodgers pen with Graterol and a healthy Blake Treinen added to Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, Joe Kelly and Adam Kolarek could be hard to screw up. (Your move, Dave Roberts.)• As for the part of this multi-headed monster that didn’t work out? Ross Stripling posted a GIF of his own double fist pump on Twitter shortly after reports filtered out that the Dodgers-Angels deal, Stripling and Joc Pederson for Luis Rengifo and salary relief, was off.A little while later, he deleted the tweet. The reason should be obvious: If you’ve been traded once you can be traded again, so no sense celebrating too soon.• Since Angels owner Arte Moreno was said to be irate over the trade delay anyway, can we stipulate he’s not a Rube Goldberg fan?Related Articles Alexander: Playoff series takes a turn Clippers weren’t expecting • That said, even without this trade the Angels have sneakily made themselves a lot better this winter.Hiring Joe Maddon was the start. Signing Anthony Rendon was the big piece. And while none of their pitching acquisitions were glamorous, their rotation is absolutely stronger by adding Dylan Bundy, Julio Teheran and, maybe, Matt Andriese to a starting pitching mix including Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning and (later if not sooner) Shohei Ohtani. Even without Pederson’s addition, the Angels begin the year in good shape in the outfield and will be in even better shape once Jo Adell arrives for good.• You may remember that This Space predicted a Freeway World Series before the 2018 season began.I’m not going out on that limb again, not yet. But it could be a fun October around [email protected]@Jim_Alexander on Twitter Alexander: Coping with the desolation, and silence, of empty seats • This was an unusually long delay, but it’s a sign of the times. The only deals announced immediately these days are deadline deals. Most often, executives or (more often) agents leak the information – always with that “pending a physical” caveat – and even when there isn’t hesitancy the process drags.(I would throw in a one-liner about this trade process being as laborious as “The Irishman,” except for two things. I liked “The Irishman” – sat through it all – and the three-hour, 29 minute length of that movie already has been compared to a typical Yankees-Red Sox game, in the New York Times no less.)• And I’m just speculating here, but I would not be surprised if a well-placed Red Sox front office person put the original proposal out as a trial balloon last week, and the fierceness of the reaction from New England and its expatriates was stunning enough for the Sox to determine they needed to ask for more.• The week’s wait also has the Players Association fired up. This is one more log to throw on a labor relations fire that is already blazing.• Another effect of this delay is to demonstrate the drawbacks of Rube Goldberg-type trades such as this, the three- and four-team extravaganzas of which Andrew Friedman seems especially fond. All it takes is for one piece to go awry and the whole thing is in danger of falling apart.• And if you don’t know who Rube Goldberg is and don’t feel like consulting Google, the late cartoonist’s specialty was, according to the rubegoldberg.com website, “inventions, also known as Rube Goldberg Machines, (that) solved a simple task in the most overcomplicated, inefficient, and hilarious way possible.”Yep, that’s Andrew.• The Dodgers-Twins trade evidently will remain intact, so the Dodgers wind up keeping Graterol, a right-handed reliever who sends radar guns into triple digits, and they get Betts and Price, plus a prospect they previously traded in Luke Raley, without giving up Dustin May or Gavin Lux. Even among Friedman’s critics in the Dodger fan base, I think you’d have to assume a thumbs up.• As MLB Network insider – and one-time Daily Breeze baseball writer – Jon Heyman noted, “Non-Boston docs seem to have no big issue with Graterol meds.” What does that tell you? Alexander: Baseball’s ‘unwritten rules’ need to be erased A couple players may still be in limbo. Stay tuned.• Our interpretation of the holdup, here at What They Say vs. What They Mean Headquarters: Red Sox fans’ intense reaction to this trade – both the departure of former American League MVP Betts and what was perceived as a paltry return for Betts and David Price’s contract – led Red Sox head decision-maker Chaim Bloom to back away and ask for more, using the medical reports as cover.Boston fans intense? Who knew?• So the restructured deal reportedly agreed to Sunday – and nothing is official, remember, until the teams announce it – has infield prospect Jeter Downs and catching prospect Connor Wong going to Boston along with Alex Verdugo.The upshot of Downs’ inclusion would be that the return from last winter’s trade of Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig turned out to be a lot greater than expected. Alexander: Lakers fans, it’s been a long wait Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

LeBron James, Lakers start strong but fall to Blazers in season opener

first_img Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Even James, following a spectacular 13-point effort in his first nine minutes of play, wore down to mortal levels as the game went on. After going 5 for 6 from the field to start the game, he was 4 for 10 in the remainder.James’ first official Lakers stat line: 26 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 turnovers. And a loss.The Lakers haven’t exactly been beating their chest about raised expectations: Even in the hours before tip-off, Walton and James both spoke of patience. But with James still capable of the moments that spellbound the Moda Center crowd in the opening minutes, one of the season’s defining questions for the Lakers is how long such patience can hold.For now, James said, he’s hoping the progress continues through the best teaching mechanism: experience.“You control what you can control,” he said. “And what I can control is how I lead these guys and how I prepare every day. I come in with a championship mindset and preaching and practicing excellence every single day. So, I believe that will wear off (on them).”👀 the TOP PLAYS from LeBron James’ (26 PTS, 12 REB, 6 AST) @Lakers debut. #LakeShow #KiaTipOff18 pic.twitter.com/vETGfLaUDZ— NBA (@NBA) October 19, 2018 Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThey delivered the pace that was promised, speeding in transition to the tune of 34 fast-break points. But that was the only part of the Lakers that looked fully formed in a 128-119 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in their season-opening effort Thursday night.It wasn’t exactly a surprise that the Lakers looked a little sloppy early, especially against a Portland team that finished third in the Western Conference last season. It served to reinforce that the franchise, burnished by the hope of James’ signing, still have a long road ahead.“That’s all I’ve been preaching since the season started, since we got back to work, that it was going to take patience from our team, from all of us,” James said. “To just figure out one another, figure out what we are good at, figure out what we are not so good at, how we can be better at it.”The clear highlight for the team came in a sequence that started less than three minutes in, as James scored his first points off the transition dunk.When Portland’s own star Damian Lillard found an answer with his own jam, it took just eight seconds for a rebuttal. James hardly broke stride to slip around a JaVale McGee screen and violently assault the rim again, this time puffing his chest for the fans in the courtside seats. Brandon Ingram in attack mode to start half #[email protected] x @trailblazers – #KiaTipOff18 📺: @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/tr3xuufOMW— NBA (@NBA) October 19, 2018 Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs PreviousThe seat for Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen, who passed away on Oct. 15, has a rose and a hat placed on it before an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)The Lakers’ LeBron James dunks against the Trail Blazers during the opening minutes of the first quarter of their game on Thursday night at Moda Center in Portland. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James dunks against the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsLakers forward LeBron James dunks against the Portland Trail Blazers in the first quarter of their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James dunks against the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, center, shoots over Portland Trail Blazers guard Evan Turner, left, and guard CJ McCollum, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 and Brandon Ingram #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate in the first quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers during their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)Lakers center JaVale McGee goes up for a dunk in front of the Blazers’ Jusuf Nurkic during the first quarter of their season opener Thursday night in Portland. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee, left, dunks over Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives against Jake Layman #10 and Maurice Harkless #4 of the Portland Trail Blazers in the first quarter of their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers steals from LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first quarter of their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers guard Josh Hart, center, drives to the basket past Portland Trail Blazers guard Evan Turner, left, and forward Zach Collins, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers controls the ball against the Portland Trail Blazers in the first quarter of their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives against CJ McCollum #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers in the first quarter of their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the first quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers during their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes up against Jake Layman #10 and Maurice Harkless #4 of the Portland Trail Blazers in the first quarter of their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)The Lakers’ LeBron James huddles with his teammates during the first quarter of their season opener against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night in Portland. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the first quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers during their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the first quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers during their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma shoots against the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, right, looks to pass around Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)The Lakers’ LeBron James drives against the Blazers’ CJ McCollum during the first quarter of their season opener on Thursday night in Portland. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James reacts after scoring against the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)The Lakers’ LeBron James drives against the Blazers’ CJ McCollum during the first quarter of their season opener on Thursday night in Portland. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: Rajon Rondo #9 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots against Jusuf Nurkic #27 of the Portland Trail Blazers in the second quarter of their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the second quarter as Jusuf Nurkic #27 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on during their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers is fouled by CJ McCollum #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers in the second quarter of their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the first quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers during their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee, left, shoots over Portland Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: JaVale McGee #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks against Maurice Harkless #4 of the Portland Trail Blazers in the second quarter of their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: JaVale McGee #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks against Maurice Harkless #4 of the Portland Trail Blazers in the second quarter of their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers argues with referee Brian Forte #45 in the second quarter of their game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: Josh Hart #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots against Jusuf Nurkic #27 of the Portland Trail Blazers in the second quarter of their game at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the second quarter of their game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, center, shoots over Portland Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless, left, and guard Nik Stauskas, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers argues with referee Brian Forte #45 in the second quarter of their game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers guard Josh Hart, center, shoots between Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, left, and center Jusuf Nurkic, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Portland Trail Blazers guard Nik Stauskas, right, shots over Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. The Trail Blazers won 128-119. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Los Angeles Lakers guard Josh Hart, top, shoots over Portland Trail Blazers guard Evan Turner during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, left, shoots over Los Angeles Lakers guard Josh Hart during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. The Trail Blazers won 128-119. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo, center, shoots over Portland Trail Blazers guard Nik Stauskas during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu, left, dunks over Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. The Trail Blazers won 128-119. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, right, dribbles around Los Angeles Lakers guard Josh Hart during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. The Trail Blazers won 128-119. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, right, shoots over Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. The Trail Blazers won 128-119. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu, right, shoots over Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. The Trail Blazers won 128-119. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James walks off the court after an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. The Trail Blazers won 128-119. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers arrives to their game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers and teammates prepare for their game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James heads to the court before an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers is introduced prior to their game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James partakes in warm ups before an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James partakes in warm ups before an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers warms up prior to their game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on prior to their game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers is introduced prior to their game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers is introduced prior to their game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)The seat for Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen, who passed away on Oct. 15, has a rose and a hat placed on it before an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)The Lakers’ LeBron James dunks against the Trail Blazers during the opening minutes of the first quarter of their game on Thursday night at Moda Center in Portland. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)NextShow Caption1 of 56The Lakers’ LeBron James dunks against the Trail Blazers during the opening minutes of the first quarter of their game on Thursday night at Moda Center in Portland. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)ExpandPORTLAND, Ore. — Fifteen years after he first heralded his arrival into the NBA with a runaway slam dunk, LeBron James began the latest era of his career in the same flamboyant fashion.The 33-year-old found his first points as a Laker by stealing an inbounds pass, running alone to the other end of the court and finishing with a one-handed flush with the easy grace that is all his own.In his first official game in purple and gold, James quickly established that while he’s in a new jersey, he’s still at the height of his powers as one of the NBA’s best. His era with the Lakers would not begin quietly: As a player, he has the subtlety of a wrecking ball.As a team, however, the Lakers are not quite there. “They were thunderous,” second-year guard Josh Hart said. “That gave us great energy. He’s the best player in the world for a reason. He just kind of showed that.”But most other segments from the Lakers were less sound. They missed their first 15 attempts from 3-point range, a span that lasted until there were only two minutes left in the third quarter when Hart finally buried one. The defense, which was a concern throughout the preseason, was particularly vulnerable from long range, as the Blazers landed 13 3-pointers of their own.The unsettled nature of the Lakers’ bench rotations was exacerbated by incredible contributions from the Blazers’ reserves. Nik Stauskas hit his first six shots of the game, feeding the already fired-up Moda Center on an emotional night when the team was honoring deceased owner Paul Allen. Stauskas, who hit five 3-pointers, eventually tied a career high for 24 points. Evan Turner (13 points) also played beyond his normal means to boost the star tandem of Lillard and C.J. McCollum (49 combined points).When McCollum hit a 3-pointer with five minutes left to put the Blazers up by 10, it was clear that they were running away with their 16th straight win over the Lakers – a stretch of futility that dates to 2014.It wasn’t that the Lakers lacked strong performances from James’ supporting cast. Solidifying his place in the starting lineup, Rajon Rondo had 13 points and nine assists and provided a crucial punch to the offense as James sat in the second quarter. Hart had 20 points off the bench, getting hot late from long range.It was the cohesion that lacked, as the Blazers slipped through holes in the Lakers’ defense, and several passes by the Lakers themselves went nowhere, a sign of a new team still finding its chemistry. Walton bristled that his players, in their haste to run in transition after a stop, sometimes allowed the Trail Blazers to corral in offensive boards, leading to 21 second-chance points.Nothing signified the disconnect quite like a fourth-quarter play when James slid a pass behind his back that simply bounced out of bounds. He was expecting Kyle Kuzma to stay behind the 3-point line, but instead Kuzma went toward the rim. These miscommunications will happen, James said, but he hopes they start smoothing out with time.“I always kind of compare it to like instant oatmeal: It is not that fast,” James said. “It takes a while to get to where you can close your eyes and know exactly where your guys are.”Related Articleslast_img read more