The Los Angeles Lakers (8-12) comfortably defeated the Portland Trail Blazers (11-11), 128-109, on Wednesday, in LA’s final bout before the schedule dramatically ramps up in difficulty. It was their best performance of 2022-23, and it couldn’t come at a better time.

In the first matchup between these two Western Conference foes this season, the Lakers surrendered a seven-point lead in the final two minutes as Damian Lillard tapped into Dame Time and Los Angeles fell 106-104. (Perhaps it was fitting, then, that the Lakers hosted the Blazers after disastrously blowing a 17-point fourth-quarter lead to the Indiana Pacers on Monday.) There was no crunch-time suspense this time around (Lillard did not play).

Here are three instant takeaways from the latest clash between these Pacific Division rivals — not counting a fan drilling a halfcourt shot for the second game in a row, seconds after Russell Westbrook drained an equally improbable logo heave.

3 key reactions to Lakers vs. Blazers

1) LeBron was cookin’

LeBron, fresh off a tweaked ankle, was feeling his jumper. A profoundly welcome sight for the Lakers.

For the most part, LeBron hasn’t shot the ball all that well this season, particularly from the perimeter. Granted, he’s dealt with the flu, foot soreness, and a groin strain, but his .455/.289/.738 shooting splits were far below his standard (his free-throw attempts have been down, as well). He shot just 8-0f-22 in Monday’s loss, including a 2-0f-8 final period.

He was hot on Wednesday. During the first half of the second quarter, LeBron drilled two midrange jumpers and hit two threes (he missed a telling heat check). He entered the locker room with 17 points on 7-0f-8 shooting and 3-of-4 from deep as the Lakers took a 66-62.

In the second half, he threw down a massive slam and ushered spry takes to the rim. He was bouncily looking to hoist.

Overall, LeBron finished with 31 points on 12-of-18 shooting, including 6-0f-8 from 3. He added 7 rebounds and 8 assists.

The Lakers are depending on LeBron — their best high-volume three-point shooter in 2021-22 — to help float the boat for the group. Against Portland, Los Angeles shot 14-of-36 from distance.

Anthony Davis (27 points, 12 rebounds), meanwhile, was steadily dominant throughout, once again. The Lakers were truly firing on all cylinders.

2) Austin Reaves is deep in his bag

In general, the Lakers are short on wing depth. They became even shallower when both Troy Brown Jr. and Lonnie Walker IV were declared out shortly before tip-off.

Never fear: Austin Reaves is here.

Reaves shined on both ends, continuing a stellar run of play for the sophomore. He planted his foot on the gas in the first half, shooting 4-of-5 from the field and 6-of-8 from the free-throw line. He had multiple transition scores and turned defense into offense, as the Lakers need to consistently do. He pulled off a McHale up-and-under, a Dream Shake and a Smitty. He nailed a 3 off a no-look LeBron pass. He threw down a two-hand tomahawk.

Are you 1000% an NBA fan?

🚨 Get viral NBA graphics, memes, rumors and trending sports news delivered right to your inbox with the Clutch newsletter.

*Sign up now and receive your own one-of-a-kind ClutchPoints photoshop with yourself and your favorite player!

Reaves finished with 22 points (7-of-10 FG) and 5 boards.

The sophomore has been either the Lakers’ third or fourth-best player this season. He’s tapping into a swagger and playmaking verve that he didn’t have last season. The Lakers — and the Crypto.com Arena crowd — palpably feed off of it.

3) A massive win ahead of a gauntlet

The Lakers needed this dub, especially following the gut-wrenching Pacers loss. Los Angeles will begin a six-game East Coast road trip on Friday against a handful of contenders, including the Milwaukee Bucks (Friday), Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, and Philadelphia 76ers.

The Lakers face arguably the toughest schedule in basketball in December, considering the strength of schedule (13 +.500 teams), volume (16 games, including three back-t0-backs), and miles traveled (nearly 10,000).

In other words: the wire-to-wire win over the Blazers will feel especially good.