Below is a running diary of L.A.’s home contest against Portland as the team looked for a seventh straight victory to open the season, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Blazers: Andre Miller, Brandon Roy,
7:18 Perhaps the biggest reason for L.A.’s early-season domination on offense, producing a league-high 114 points per game, has been the great inside play of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, who were at it again early against Portland in hitting consecutive shots for an early edge that would soon grow bigger…
4:35 Kobe Bryant nailed back-to-back jumpers after four misses to put the Lakers up 17-10, their half court offense working to good effect against one of the league’s better halfcourt defenses. As a team, the LAL were at 8-for-14, good for 57.1 percent.
19.3 Gasol capped an 8-0 run with a short hook shot in the lane off some nice ball movement, though Blazers rookie Armon Johnson did manage to score the quarter’s final bucket to cut L.A.’s lead to 27-14 after one. While the Blazers did play on Saturday night, they were still expected to put up their traditionally strong fight against the Lakers, yet really struggled to get anything accomplished at either end. It was all Purple and Gold in the first.
9:45 You know how we’ve been talking about L.A.’s bench being much-improved? Well, nothing changed early in the second, as the 3B’s quickly put eight points on the board (four from Barnes, a bucket each from Blake and Brown) to push L.A.’s lead up to 35-16.
7:08 Among Phil Jackson’s chief early-season concerns is not stretching Odom and Gasol out too much with extended playing time, which we saw play out early in the second. Odom started the quarter on the bench, then came in for Gasol and slid over to the center position, with Barnes at the four. Jackson has the luxury of the multi-capable Odom and Barnes (not to mention Artest) being able to float amongst the different positions until Andrew Bynum returns. We also saw rookie Derrick Caracter offer eight minutes off the
bench, in which he scored a bucket with two rebounds.
3:32 Ron Artest so consistently plays excellent defense that we sometimes take it for granted, but his first half effort was the key towards Blazers All-Star Brandon Roy failing to score a single point in his first 16 minutes, missing all four of his shots as Artest doggedly chased him around. Meanwhile, Artest used his size to muscle Roy out of the way at the other end to establish low-post position, and converted two shots right under the rim, the second of which put L.A. up 52-30.
0:00 The Lakers did everything but kick Portland’s dog in the first half, scoring 58 points to the Blazers 36, out-shooting the visitors 51 percent to 36 percent, and more importantly dominating the glass 25 to 11. Gasol nearly reached a first-half triple-double, posting 14 points, 11 boards and seven dimes in 21 minutes, while Bryant played only 16 minutes to score seven points. L.A.’s bench outscored Portland’s 13-7.
9:08 With a pretty quarterback pass to a streaking Odom, Gasol notched assist No. 9 to climb within a single dime of his first triple-double since Feb. 17, 2009, when he posted a 12-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist effort against Atlanta. Surprisingly, Gasol didn’t notch a 10-assist game in 2009-10.
6:36 Nicolas Batum hit three triples from the wing opposite L.A.’s bench to cut into L.A.’s lead just a bit as the Blazers opened the quarter on a 17-10 run, but three free throws from the Lakers at the other end kept the lead to a healthy 19 points (72-53).
3:09 And there was the triple-double, Artest providing the bucket on Gasol’s 10th assist plus 18 points and 13 rebounds. In related news, Gasol has been playing ridiculous basketball to start the season. Coming into the game, he was sixth in scoring (24.8), 13th in rebounding (10.3) and 16th in blocks (1.67). He’s good.
0:00 Despite Portland’s early (Batum) burst in the third, the Lakers managed to tack three more points onto their halftime lead, a late run making it a 89-64 lead. All five Lakers starters had reached double figures at that point, and just one (Odom) would remain on the floor to start the fourth.
7:51 At least at the onset of the final period, the Lakers had yet to really take their collective foot off the pedal, with Shannon Brown nailing back-to-back triples to produce a 96-70 margin. Sensing a theme yet?
3:15 Though Phil Jackson had long ago put five subs on the court, the Blazers decided to try and make the score look at least a bit better, using a Johnson three to cut the margin to 106-88. Tick, tock, tick, tock went the clock…
0:00 L.A. actually closed the game on a 15-8 run to make the final margin 121-96 in a truly dominant performance against a Blazers’ team that certainly didn’t play close to its best basketball. Up next for the 7-0 Lakers is a Tuesday tilt against the 1-win Minnesota Timberwolves.