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James delivers 26 but Trail Blazers spoil his Lakers debut

LeBron James began his Los Angeles Lakers era with two rim-rattling dunks on Thursday, but the 14-time all star couldn’t reverse a string of losing debut games with new NBA teams.

James (pictured) scored a game-high 26 points and had 12 rebounds but the Portland Trail Blazers spoiled his Lakers debut with a 128-119 victory at the Moda Centre arena.

The basketball world has been waiting months to see the 33-year-old James in the purple and gold jersey and when the moment arrived he delivered.

James electrified the Portland crowd with back-to-back monster slams for his first points as a Laker, but ultimately he couldn’t prevent them from dropping their 16th straight game to Portland dating back to March 2014. “It’s not instant oatmeal. It’s not that fast.

It takes some time to get that chemistry where you can just close your eyes and know exactly where guys are,” James said. The Lakers will play their first home game on Saturday against the Houston Rockets at Staples Centre.

James opted out of his contract with Cleveland in the offseason and agreed to a four-year deal worth $154 million (Sh15.4 billion) with the Lakers.

Against Portland, James shot nine-of-16 from the field in 37 minutes of playing time. Josh Hart added 20 points for the Lakers.

“I liked our fight to get back into the game when we were down double digits. I liked the way we competed at times. I liked the way we shared the ball as well. Those were all positive,” James said.

He went on “There’s some things that we could do better.  We can rebound a lot better, we had some turnovers, which I expected. Us just trying to get a feel for one another.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton weighed in: “Glad he’s on our team. He’s pretty good at the game of basketball.” Damian Lillard had 28 points and Nik Stauskas scored 24 points off the bench for Portland, which won its NBA record 18th straight home opener.

With the Lakers up 6-2 after baskets by Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Brandon Ingram, James stole the ball from Portland forward Jake Layman and raced to the other end for a dunk.   -AFP

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