Lakers 98, Blazers 107: Running Diary

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We took a look at the Lakers – Blazers contest at the Rose Garden while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked to snap an 8-game road losing streak in Portland.

Inactives
Lakers: Luke Walton
Blazers: Travis Outlaw, Greg Oden, Joel Pryzbilla

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom* and Bynum
Blazers: Andre Miller, Brandon Roy, Martell Webster, LaMarcus Aldridge, Juwan Howard
*Odom got the start as Pau Gasol missed his third full game with a strained left hamstring.

Pregame Notes
For all our pregame notes from today, CLICK HERE. The synopsis: Phil Jackson said that his favorite thing about the key to Portland’s team, Brandon Roy, is his composure. Lamar Odom said he’s feeling better from his earlier-week stomach ailment. Jordan Farmar’s looking forward to pushing tempo when he gets into the game (and perhaps more importantly, approved the shirt I bought from Macy’s today after forgetting mine in L.A.).

59244421First Quarter
7:01 The Blazers used a 7-0 run to jump up 14-6 on the Lakers until Bryant’s 24-foot three sliced through the net. It was Bryant’s first make after three straight misses and an opening conversion as Portland opted not to double-team him on the perimeter. Instead, the Blazers focused on making it tough for Andrew Bynum to catch the ball in the post, a good counter to L.A.’s game plan.

1:45 It was no shock to the Lakers to see Portland open hot from the field, hitting 10-of-17 (62.5 percent) to take a 26-20 lead on Juwan Howard’s tip in. Speaking of Howard … he’s one of three players from the 1994 Draft class still in the league, along with Jason Kidd (pick No. 2) and Grant Hill (No. 3). Howard was drafted fifth.

0:12.9 The Blazers got quite the bench boost from Jerryd Bayless, a former lotter pick who made all four of his attempts for eight points, including the quarter’s final basket that allowed Portland a six-point cushion heading into the second. L.A., however, did well to match Portland’s energy, sticking around despite 60 percent shooting in the quarter from the home team. In other news, there must have been 23 “Beat L.A.!!” chants in the period (not a shocker).

Second Quarter
11:25 On the heels of a 15-point effort off the bench against the Clippers, Shannon Brown nailed back-to-back jumpers to quickly pull L.A. within two. He doesn’t, of course, jump all 44.5 inches of his vertical on his jump shot, but wouldn’t it be cool if he did?

6:21 The Lakers had already committed eight fouls in less than a half of the quarter, sending the Blazers to the line on consecutive fouls far away from the basket. The last two were on Bynum, including his bump when stepping out on a Bayless pick and roll, and then as he tried to get around Jeff Pendergraph for an offensive board. At that point, Portland had taken 15 free throws to three from L.A. in a 43-37 game. In unrelated news, here are a few things Blazers fans like more than Lakers: getting root canal; rubbing salt in open wounds; and paying taxes.*
*Bad example, since there’s no sales tax in Oregon. Whatever.

0:30 Portland’s biggest lead of the half was matched as Howard hit an end-of-shot-clock perimeter jumper that produced a 55-43 edge. The Lakers were struggling to get good shots on offense, as Fisher missed back-to-back open threes (2-for-6 in the half) and Bynum wasn’t able to get the ball in good shooting position. The Blazers had no such trouble, hitting 54 percent of their looks in the half, including 60 percent from three-point land, to take their 12-point lead.

Third Quarter
10:11 The third is generally the quarter in which L.A. makes its defensive push to either put teams away or get back in games, and after two minutes that appeared to be the case once again. Two stops resulted in five points at the other end, quickly cutting Portland’s lead to seven points.

6:01 The defensive activity continued for the next several minutes, as Portland’s lead was cut to just three after Odom’s alley-oop to Bynum. The Lakers hit four threes during that stretch and held the Blazers to 3-of-8 shooting with three turnovers. Meanwhile, Blazers fans continued to express vitriol towards anything purple and gold. Always a good time at the Rose Garden.

1:35 After opening as cold as the weather from the field, Portland made eight straight shots (literally), including seven jumpers, to go up 10 points when L.A. had twice cut the lead to three. A frustrating period for the Lakers, to be sure, who worked hard and played well but simply watched the jumpers rain down against them. It seemed almost appropriate with the rain coming down simultaneously outside the arena.

59244424Fourth Quarter
11:20 L.A.’s frustration continued right into the fourth, as whistles twice put Portland back on the line, the lead suddenly at a game-high 14 points.

8:53 Bryant went to the bench after missing all three of his attempts from the field, which put him at 9-for-24 in the game. That backed up games of 10-for-30 and 9-of-23, as his finger clearly continues to bug him. In fact, Bryant was seen trying to dribble the basketball (as reported by the OCR’s Kevin Ding) in between plays in hopes of finding some sort of balance for the finger.

3:20 The Lakers didn’t quit, cutting the lead down to 11 when Odom put back a Bryant miss, plus the foul. However, at the other end, the Blazers had continued to find ways to get to the charity stripe, including stepping on someone’s foot (Roy inadvertently stepped on Bynum, and LA.’s center was hit with the personal). At that point, Portland had taken 33 free throws to just eight for the Lakers. L.A. would manage to get as close as six points in the final minute and change before the Blazers put it away.

In summation, the Blazers played consistently hard and well at both ends, while the Lakers were only able to sustain their usual high level of play for the better part of the third quarter and some of the first. It marked the ninth straight loss for L.A. in Portland, albeit losses in the regular season.

The Lakers will look to Sunday to once again stave off a potential three-game losing streak when the Bucks travel to L.A. Until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
2 Fast break points for the Lakers, who had trouble creating easy baskets throughout the evening.

9 Straight losses for the Lakers in Portland. Just in case you hadn’t heard that.

29 More free throw attempts for Portland than L.A., resulting in 27 more points.

37 Field goal attempts by Kobe Bryant, of which he made 14 (38.8 percent) for 32 points. Brandon Roy matched his point total on only 11 field goal attempts and a slew of free throws. The avulsion fracture on Kobe’s right index finger was clearly bothering him once again.

60 Percent shooting for the Blazers in the first quarter, helping create a lead that they’d never relinquish.