Miami: The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks stepped it up on Thursday night, bouncing back from opening upsets with convincing victories in the NBA play-offs.
LeBron James and the Lakers, seeded first in the Western Conference, thumped the Portland Trail Blazers 111-88 to even their best-of-seven series at one game apiece.
The Bucks came back from a humbling loss to beat the Orlando Magic 111-96.
Anthony Davis, who struggled through an eight-of-24 shooting night in the Lakers’ Game 1 loss to Portland, led Los Angeles with 31 points on 13 of 21 shooting and pulled down 11 rebounds in 29 minutes.
He’s the first Laker since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to score more than 30 points in a play-off game in less than 30 minutes of action.
“He was just aggressive from the beginning of the game,” James said of Davis. “He wasn’t passive at all, looked for his shots. He did a great job of rebounding as well, got some put-backs.”
James scored just 10 points, but his quiet night was no problem for a Lakers team that closed the first half on a 12-2 scoring run for a 17-point half-time lead.
“We knew we had to not have as many defensive lapses,” James said.
“When you have a defensive strategy you have to execute that strategy for 48 minutes and I think we did a great job of that tonight.”
The Lakers led by 30 — 88-58 — going into the fourth quarter, when Portland suddenly found themselves without star Damian Lillard.
Lillard exited with less than two minutes remaining in the third after dislocating his left index finger — apparently when he banged his hand against Davis’s foot while reaching for the ball.
Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with 28 points and 20 rebounds as the Bucks brought the defensive intensity that carried them to the league’s best regular-season record.
“Our whole mindset this game was to come out, play hard, play together and as long as we got stops we were going to figure it out on offence,” Antetokounmpo said.
“I think the team did a great job first quarter, setting the tone. Coming out hard, playing hard, rebounding the ball and just making the right play.”
The Houston Rockets and Miami Heat both took commanding 2-0 leads in their series.