How good was the Lakers’ defense in Tuesday’s 96-76 opening night win over the Portland Trail Blazers at STAPLES Center?
So good that the 76 points mustered by Portland were the fewest in franchise history against the Lakers, who gave up 79 to Portland on Feb. 1, 2005 for the previous low.
“We made them take hurried shots with the clock running down or shots out of their comfort zone,” explained Jackson after the game. “But they did miss some open shots so we can’t take all the credit for the defense.”
Fair enough. But still, the having L.A. at times overload one side of the floor to ball hawk and create havoc worked wonders as one of the Lakers seven-footers was usually waiting in the lane to deter drivers. While that was the game’s major story line, the most important specific stretch came after Portland narrowed L.A.’s lead to eight in the third quarter before Kobe Bryant went off for 17 of his 23 points to effectively bury the Blazers.
Here are a few other thoughts from the contest:
Greg Oden apparently landed awkwardly on Derek Fisher’s foot early in the first quarter and eventually left with what’s being called a “mild foot sprain.”
We mentioned Bryant’s clutch scoring, but how about those 11 boards to tie him with Pryzbilla for the game-high?
As part of the ball-hawking defense, Vladimir Radmanovic posted four steals.
Jordan Farmar’s been battling a cold, but it didn’t show too much as he led the way with six assists, grabbed six boards and scored nine points plus a steal. His bench mates Ariza and Odom combined for 20 points, nine boards, two dimes and two steals.
Portland shot just 34.5 percent for the game, while L.A. managed to hit 46.8 percent of its shots, including 7-of-10 from Pau Gasol. Pau took only one shot in the second half, but carried L.A. in the first half.
Brandon Roy was way off to start the game, though he did hit five of his final six shots to finish the game with 14 points. After the game, Roy said that the Blazers “Didn’t expect this level of intensity, I think we were cruising and maybe feeling ourselves a little bit.” Travis Outlaw led Portland with 18 points.