Lakers 106, Blazers 101: Feb. 23 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday evening road contest, the team’s second since the All-Star break, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Blazers: A. Miller, W. Matthews, N. Batum, L. Aldridge, J. Przybilla

FIRST QUARTER
7:10 The first few minutes saw both teams go on big runs, with L.A. opening up 10-2 and Portland answering with a 9-0 run of their own. The crowd in Portland is very likely the loudest in the NBA, at least when the Lakers are in town; as we wrote earlier today, Portland treats these contests like Game 7 in a playoff series, and L.A. generally hasn’t matched that level of intensity.

2:21 Keeping the crowd quiet by scoring consistently is always a key in this game, but an ill-advised early-shot-clock jumper from Artest allowed Portland to piggy-back on a Fernandez three by another from Batum, quickly producing a six-point lead. The Blazers got another shot in the arm as Brandon Roy checked in for the first time since Dec. 15, though Bryant hit consecutive shots after missing his first five. He’d then miss a two more, however, to finish the quarter 2-for-9 as the Blazers took a 29-23 lead into the second.

SECOND QUARTER
6:04 The Lakers were starting to get something going on defense and converting at the other end, but Lamar Odom couldn’t collect an entry pass that would have resulted in a layup, and sure enough, the Blazers got an open three in transition. Artest then gave the ball away needlessly on the following possession, resulting in another good scoring chance from Aldridge, whose jumper made it 39-31 Portland.

0:00 When the Lakers held onto the ball and executed their offense, things went fine. But nine first half turnovers led to 15 Blazers points at the other end. That combined with the Lakers being whistled for six more fouls (12 to six) and shooting only three foul shots to Portland’s 12 produced a 47-41 Blazers lead at the break.

THIRD QUARTER
9:41 The Lakers were doing one thing really well on this Pacific Northwest night: shoot the three-pointer. Bryant and Fisher added their second respective triples moments after Artest hit his third, making the Lakers 7-of-9 from long distance. After another defensive stop, Bynum’s first field goal cut the Blazers lead to one at 53-52.

4:15 L.A.’s best offensive player was … Bryant? No. Gasol? No. Odom? No. Bynum? No. Yup, Ron Artest, whose jumper got him to a team-high 17 points on an efficient 6-of-9 shooting. On the next possession, Artest fed Gasol for a Spanish jumper, giving the Lakers their first lead since early in the first quarter at 61-59, though one of Bryant’s threes would be changed to a two during a time out after a Matthews jumper (thus making it 61-60 Portland).

FOURTH QUARTER
10:00 Two free throws from Odom gave him all four early fourth quarter points for the Lakers, and they’d need ‘em as the Blazers got an uncontested tip-in, a triple and Roy’s first points on a jumper to maintain a five-point lead L.A. had cut to two at the conclusion of the third.

6:37 Upset that he didn’t get a foul call, Odom instead got hit with a technical, the Blazers converting and then adding a Matthews’ floater to open an 85-75 lead. At that point, the Lakers had been whistled for 19 fouls to Portland’s nine, and taken 16 fewer free throws. Bryant was perhaps at his most frustrated point from a reffing stand point, which is saying something.

3:28 Frustrated or not, other than a 5-for-7 third quarter, Bryant’s shot had been off, his mark at 11-for-26 on the game. With the Lakers down 87-80, he didn’t get a shot off before the clock expired. Gasol had taken not a single shot in the fourth and only five since the first quarter, and Bryant missed again on the next possession.

0:04.7 Of course, he is Kobe Bryant after all. Despite all those misses, Bryant managed to drain the two toughest shots at the biggest moment, first a baseline fadeaway with 46 seconds left, then drilled a fadeaway from one of his favorite spots on the floor, the left elbow, to tie the game at 87. On the other end, Aldridge missed three consecutive shots near the rim, including a potential game winner at the buzzer.

OVERTIME
4:47 Odom rewarded Jackson’s decision to start him over Bynum in the extra session by promptly pulling up for a three-pointer, capping an 11-0 Lakers run since close to the five-minute mark of regulation.

1:51 The game of swings continued as Artest hit his fifth three only to see Fernandez counter at the other end. Then Miller hit a baseline J only to watch Gasol counter with a terrific and-1 around Aldridge, giving the Lakers a one-point lead. A terrific possession followed for the Lakers, as Artest cleared Gasol’s miss on the offensive glass in a play that ultimately resulted in an open jumper for Bryant in the paint that produced a 100-97 lead with 27 seconds left.

0:16.1 That should do it. Aldridge, who had not scored since a third quarter in which he was 12-of-15 for 29 points, missed two free throws, and Bryant converted both of his on the other end. Bryant then forced an over-and-back turnover on Miller, and hit the ensuing free throws to put the Lakers up seven, capping a 9-0 run. That would do it, the final score reading 106-101 for the Lakers, who scored 19 points in overtime. Stay tuned for your postgame numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
37 Points for Kobe Bryant, who nailed the two biggest and most difficult shots of the game on back-to-back possessions in the final minute of regulation, capping an 8-0 Lakers run that forced overtime. He added nine rebounds, six assists and three steals.

24 Points for Ron Artest, a season high, thanks largely to his 5-for-6 shooting from three-point territory. Artest added six boards, four assists and two steals in perhaps his best game of the season.

14 Rebounds for Pau Gasol, who also came up big in overtime with five of his 18 points after not taking a shot in the fourth quarter.

11 Years since the Lakers had won back-to-back games in Portland before this night, coming after their victory last February.

0 Points for LaMarcus Aldridge in the fourth quarter and overtime after he was dominant with 29 points on 12-of-15 shooting in the first three quarters.