After struggling against the Blazers in splitting their first two meetings this season, the Lakers finally figured them out in the second half of tonight’s game, notching a 104-91 victory. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with a near triple double effort with 36 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists as one of six Lakers to reach double figures in scoring.
“Their defense was confusing to us, I thought, a lot of the middle part of the game, especially in the third quarter when we both got kind of stuck in a rut, both teams,” said Jackson.”We were quick, obviously defensively, had some breaks for ourselves, getting some turnovers and some opportunities. I think we cashed in on them that well. You know, we extended the lead and I thought that was important.”
Pau Gasol also made his long-awaited return for the Lakers, scoring 10 points and dishing out seven assists in his return to the floor.
“It was okay,” said Jackson. “I thought he had a lot of kinks in the game. His passing wasn’t sharp and he didn’t go get the ball the way you want to see him get the ball and the boards and loose ball situations but his height bothered (LaMarcus) Aldridge. He did a good job defensively on him.”
Jackson praised Kobe’s exceptional play, especially in the second half.
“It was good,” said Jackson. “That first half, he was not as involved as I’d like him to be. At times, he looked like he was more intent about getting his teammates involved but secomd half he picked it up and played pretty good. There’s one sequence where there’s an open opportunity, I thought, in the third quarter that stalled us a little bit. It looked like he was indecisive about putting the ball on the floor too much. That’s really the only time I thought that he either over-penetrated or didn’t get the job done.”