As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.
Lakers: D.J. Mbenga, Sun Yue
Trail Blazers: Raef LaFrentz, Martell Webster, Shavlik Randolph
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum
Blazers: Steve Blake, Brandon Roy, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and Joel Pryzbilla
Kurt Rambis (Coaching for Phil Jackson) on Andrew Bynum
With Jackson back in L.A. due to some swelling in his right lower leg, Kurt Rambis will handle head coaching duties, and had this to say about Bynum’s performance last night:
“It was pretty good. He still has a way to go. We’re measuring him (from) when he was playing his best basketball, that’s the level we want him to get back to. We know that’s going to take some time for him to get his rhythm and timing back, but we feel he’s kept up with his conditioning and now is just going to have to get used to being out there in the game and the wrestling aspect that big guys have to go through.”
12:00 Guess what clip Portland concluded their two-minute highlight video with? If you guessed “Trevor Ariza’s foul on Rudy Fernandez,” you were right. Crowd hating/loving that. Afterwards, some woman set a record for longest National Anthem ever. A sample: Annnnndddd the roooccckkkkkeeettttttttttsssss reeeeeeddddd glllllaaaaaarrrrreeeeeeee.” Ariza then got the loudest collective boo of his life. By the way, Rambis defended his forward staunchly before the game, explaining that it was a great defensive play in which Ariza caught both the ball and his man.
12:00 “Beat L.A.” is chanted for the 456,568th time. In other news, the game hasn’t started.
11:31 Bynum boxed Pryzbilla out for the first board (remember, Pryz had seven offensive boards last time these teams played here) and Bryant went to the rim and made two free throws after drawing a foul. The best early sign for L.A., however, was the 24-second violation they forced after swarming the Blazers for a full possession.
9:42 Portland, after being shut down for two minutes, finally got a hoop from Pryzbilla on a nice drive to answer Bynum’s putback.
7:29 Ariza’s jumper followed a Gasol bank shot that put L.A. up 8-5 early. More significantly, L.A. was able to match Portland’s early energy boost, which was a big problem in early March.
5:55 Kobe’s first field goal was a triple, good to answer one from Blake and put L.A. up 13-10. The Blazer fans were still dutifully cheering, just waiting for a burst … Which they got from Roy, who pulled up in the lane before hitting from three in transition after Fisher missed a wide-open jumper.
4:38 Nicolas Batum took a dive to draw an offensive foul on Bryant (usually that call goes the other way, while Shannon Brown and Lamar Odom* were again the first two Lakers off the bench. Contributing immediately was Brown, who canned a deep jumper to tie the game. Moments later, Walton joined those two and Bryant on the floor, matching the lineup that killed Sacramento and Denver in L.A.’s last two wins.
*Bynum had two points and four boards without a foul in 7:22 of action.
1:13 Odom made a fantastic cut to the hoop with Gasol palming the ball, and Pau found No. 7 for a lefty jam that made it 22-21 Blazers. After grabbing a defensive board, Odom then stuck a jumper in Greg Oden’s face to reclaim the lead for L.A. And there’s the benefit of having Odom off the bench. The Blazers are deep too, however, with talents like Fernandez, Travis Outlaw, Oden and Sergio Rodriguez coming off the pine, and it was Fernandez who hit a leaner over his Spanish teammate Gasol to give the Blazers a one-point lead after one.
11:20 Odom’s six points, two boards and assist in 4:38 were impressive in the first, while Portland answered with six points from Fernandez, who opened the second with a triple. On the floor for the Lakers: Farmar, Vujacic, Walton, Odom and Bynum.
10:15 The Blazers continued a strong stretch to start the quarter with a Roy three and Outlaw layup, though Odom stopped the run with another lay in over Oden. Roy then hit again, but this time Bynum answered with an and-1 alley-oop drop in. His free throw made it 34-30 Blazers.
8:45 L.O., L.A.’s early MVP, was at it again, grabbing his second offensive board and sticking in his fifth field goal in six attempts heading into a timeout. His assault continued with yet another offensive board, which turned into two foul shots to give him a team high 12 points. Meanwhile, Farmar continued to struggle, missing both shots he took and committing an offensive foul. Fisher had missed all three of his shots, but did have two assists without a turnover. Does this mean more Shannon Brown?
6:46 Further Bynum benefit – Gasol, Bryant and Fisher got to sit until the 6:46 mark of the second before the starters, with Vujacic in for Ariza, checked in to potentially close the quarter.
4:56 Bynum, looking big, contested consecutive Roy shots, resulting in a turnover and a missed J, which Bryant capitalized upon by drawing a foul that would put L.A. up 39-38. It’s simply a different Lakers’ team with the big kid.
3:16 Bynum affected Roy’s attempt for a fourth straight possession, and L.A. continued to capitalize at the other end first with a Bryant triple and second Gasol’s put back of Fisher’s missed jumper. With that, L.A. quickly went up 46-40.
2:05 The Lakeres continued an excellent stretch with four straight points by Bryant and Gasol’s earning a charge from Aldridge to go up 10, their biggest lead of the game.
0:17.8 The Blazers, however, came right back with a 9-0 run highlighted by a Blake triple as Rambis pulled Bryant and Fisher out of the game in favor of Brown and Ariza. That’s probably the first time Rambis has done something that we haven’t seen from Phil Jackson this season.
0:04.7 Big triple in the corner from Vujacic, courtesy of a terrific drive and kick from Odom after Bryant drew the double team near half court. That shot from the Slovenian put L.A. up 53-49 at the half.
The Lakers were boosted primarily by a great defensive effort that held Portland to 39.5 percent shooting in their house. The Lakers didn’t shoot much better (43.5 percent), and made half as many threes (six for Portland), but grabbed eight offensive boards to the Blazers’ five.
10:55 Bynum opened the scoring with a putback off Bryant’s miss, his sixth board and 11th point in 20 minutes. Bryant would also get to the rack on the next two possessions, but didn’t get a call on any of three tries. Well … at least until he was whistled for a tech.
6:39 Fouls called on L.A. this quarter: Six. On Portland: One. The resulting eight free throws put Portland up 66-59. Portland and Utah’s crowds inevitably produce these kinds of disparities, with the crowd going crazy on any questionable call, and the refs having trouble distinguishing. It wasn’t happening so much in the first half, but the first five minutes and change in the third must have been tough for L.A.’s players to handle. Example: After Pryzbilla held Bynum’s arm on an attempt in the lane but got no foul, Alridge fell down as Gasol ran by, but got the call.
5:26 Moments after canning a triple, Bryant made a tough driving layup plus the foul to bring L.A. within one.
3:20 Gasol’s jumper put the Lakers up 73-70, continuing another stretch of solid play.
0:18.5 Outlaw’s three followed that of Fernandez to rally the Blazers to a 81-77 lead after three and send the crowd into a frenzy. The Lakers finally seemed tired trying to rotate out for those two bombs … Was the back-to-back finally starting to rear its head, at least mentally?
10:33 A nice spin move from Oden was answered by L.A.’s seven footer from the right baseline to make it 83-79 Blazers.
8:48 Does Shannon Brown miss? His triple was his third hit in three attempts, and was certainly timely since Fernandez had just thrown down a silly reverse alley-oop jam to once again get the Blazers fans’ adrenaline going like “Real World” CT in the opening Duel 2 episode (OK, maybe not that insane).
6:53 Fatman Sr.‘s making a serious case for playoff minutes that he started in Sacramento, canning another three and ripping down a defensive board that found L.A. trailing by two.
5:15 After a tough fadeaway on the baseline, Bryant hit again off a screen to tie the game at 91. Will the game come down to who’s able to hit more shots between Bryant and Roy? Will Bynum be able to check back in and clog the paint that Roy’s so eager to enter?
3:00 After two tough Roy buckets, Bryant converted a tough and-1 to bring L.A. within one at 99-98. Drama certainly building in the Rose Garden.
1:56 It wasn’t Roy, but Steve Blake who drained a tough jumper out of the pick and roll to put the Blazers back up three.
1:13 I might have bet something – if I were allowed to bet – that L.A. would draw up a play to get Fisher a look at a three were Kobe not able to get to the cup. Sure enough, Bryant drove into traffic and kicked to Fisher in the corner, but the veteran couldn’t find the range, and Portland grabbed the board and called time out.
0:54.5 Bryant locked Roy up, forcing a kick out pass to Outlaw, who missed a contested three. Back to the Lakers … Does Rambis want a quick two, or a three?
0:42.9 Bryant took a three and missed, and Odom fouled Blake on the ensuing rebound. Shoud he have fouled there? Blake did miss 1-of-2, but more than made up for the miss by stealing Bryant’s kick out attempt to Odom, racing up the floor and calling timeout with 28.3 left on the clock.
0:26.9 Fernandez also missed 1-of-2 free throws, but Portland held a 103-98 lead nonetheless.
0:00 The Blazers closed the door at the foul line as L.A. continued to miss shots, sending the purple and gold to its eighth straight victory at the Rose Garden.