Game 4 between the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers was always going to be memorable. It was taking place on Aug. 24, 8/24, the numbers that the late Kobe Bryant wore.
Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash in January. The day before Game 4 would have been Bryant's 42nd birthday. The Lakers honored Kobe Bryant on Monday with special "Black Mamba" uniforms.
Los Angeles came out on the court with the new uniforms and then paid tribute to Bryant on the court by scoring the first 15 points of the game en route to a 135-115 Lakers win to take a 3-1 series lead.
When starting Lakers point guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope drove and finished a finger roll despite being fouled by Portland All-Star Damian Lillard with 4:58 left in the first quarter, the score read:
Trail Blazers 8. Lakers 24.
24-8 score on 8-24 💜💛 pic.twitter.com/9z0alEBf38— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 25, 2020
Score: 24-8 💜💛— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 25, 2020
(📺: Spectrum SportsNet & TNT) pic.twitter.com/3zvLXPBpLa
Caldwell-Pope didn't complete the three-point play, but it allowed the score to stay up for 28 seconds -- a silver lining.
"I did see that," Caldwell-Pope said. "And I was definitely mad because I missed the free throw, but I did see the 24-8 up there, which is always cool to see his numbers everywhere. And just to be out there in the Mamba jersey, we all just felt the energy, we just played off the energy."
Many people noticed the numeric tribute, including All-Star Chris Paul and Kevin Love.
Bean is ALWAYS watching!!! Miss you my brother. 🙏🏾 8/24 pic.twitter.com/YtHJVMD3SB— Chris Paul (@CP3) August 25, 2020
24/8 Lakers 👀— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) August 25, 2020
The Lakers wound up scoring 43 first-quarter points (largest lead: 24) and 80 first-half points to take a commanding lead against the Trail Blazers, shooting well over 60% from the field and better than 50% from 3-point range.
The Lakers finished Game 4 making 56.3% of their field goals and 17 of 39 3s (43.6%). LeBron James finished with 30 points (10-for-12 field goals), 6 rebounds, 10 assists, 4 3-pointers and 1 block. According to ESPN Stats & Information, James is the first Laker with consecutive 30-point double-doubles in the playoffs since Kobe Bryant had three straight in the 2010 Western Conference finals against the Phoenix Suns.
James saw the scoreboard in the moment, as he shared after the game:
"I did notice that we were up 24-8 because I'm always trying to figure out what's going on in the course of the game," James said. "I'm always looking, if we're up, if we're down, what's the team fouls and all of that nature, and when I looked up there and saw 24-8, I was like, 'OK. This is ... he's here in the building.'
"So it's a beautiful night for our franchise and something that we will probably always remember, Game 4 of the 2020 playoffs, in this moment."