LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers debut ended in defeat as the Portland Trail Blazers ran out 128-119 winners at Moda Center.
Three-time NBA champion James scored 26 points – the second most by a Lakers debutant – in his first regular season game since leaving hometown team the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time in the summer.
Back at it in L.A. on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/n7rsqKjKKg
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 19, 2018
But it was not enough to prevent the Lakers losing to Portland for the 16th successive meeting as Damian Lillard led the way for the hosts with 28 points.
Before the game, Portland held a moment’s silence for Paul Allen, the franchise’s owner and co-founder of Microsoft who died earlier this week aged 65.
And on the court they extended their winning run in home openers to 19 despite the Lakers making a fast start.
James wasted little time grabbing the spotlight, scoring his first basket in the third minute with an emphatic dunk after intercepting the ball in his own half, and he added another one-handed dunk 19 seconds later.
— NBA (@NBA) October 19, 2018
The Lakers stretched their lead to 10 points at one point but they ended the first period trailing 34-31.
James reached half-time with 18 points but Portland led 65-63 as the hosts were more accurate with their three-point attempts.
The Lakers missed their first 15 shots from three-point range before Josh Hart landed one late in the third period, which gave the visitors an 85-83 lead.
But Portland took control of the game in the fourth quarter as they continued their stranglehold over the Lakers.
James has lost all four of his debuts in the NBA, with the Lakers defeat adding to two losses for the Cavaliers either side of a setback in his first game with the Miami Heat.
Elsewhere, the Philadelphia 76ers bounced back from their losing start to beat the Chicago Bulls 127-108.
Ben Simmons returned his first triple double of the season while Joel Embiid scored 30 points.
In the night’s other game, Kelly Olynyk scored with 0.2 seconds left to secure the Miami Heat a 113-112 win at the Washington Wizards.