Lakers 96, Blazers 107: Jan. 5 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Thursday evening road contest at Portland, the Lakers looking for a fifth win in six games, 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, Barnes, Gasol and Bynum
Blazers: R. Felton, W. Matthews, G. Wallace, L. Aldridge, M. Camby

FIRST QUARTER
12:00 Before the action, a question: why have the Lakers struggled so much in the Rose Garden in the last several years? They have only four wins in their last 20 trips here to Portland, and it’s not because of a lack of talent, since the Lakers have gone to the Finals in three of the last four years, and the Blazers have yet to make it out of the first round of the playoffs. Instead, if you ask former Blazer and Laker (and current Lakers radio color man) Mychal Thompson, it’s because the Blazers treat these games like main event playoff contests, while the Lakers treat them like any other game. That difference in energy, spurred on by one of the league’s best home crowds, has made a big difference … not that Mike Brown is going to allow that as an excuse.

8:15 L.A. did well to quiet the crowd early by executing very well towards 8-of-9 field goal makes, allowing a 16-11 early lead. Portland, however, wasn’t far behind, as a Wes Matthews 3 got the Blazers up to 66 percent themselves.

0:00 L.A.’s efficiency didn’t slip much as the quarter continued, the big men Bynum and Gasol combining to make all nine of their shots for 18 collective points, and Bryant hitting 4-of-6 for eight of his own. Portland got two triples from Matthews to help his squad get within four, at 31-27, at the break.

SECOND QUARTER
6:00 With L.A. holding a 41-39 lead, we saw a pretty big disparity in shot making from the bench and the starters. Led by the bigs, the starters made 17-for-21 field goals, while the bench, taking mostly jumpers, managed just two hits in 10 attempts. The bench did, however, play better on defense, keeping Portland from getting out in transition.

0:00 Again, we can comment on how efficient the Lakers were on offense, getting whatever shots they wanted towards 61.5 percent from the field, led by a strong 7-for-7 from Bynum. L.A. did concede too many offensive rebounds for their coaches’ liking (five), and didn’t get around screens very well, as the Blazers trailed by only four at 56-52.

THIRD QUARTER
8:15 L.A. pushed its lead to six on Gasol’s 13-foot jumper, but the Blazers responded with an 8-0 run, capped by an and-1 layup in transition and a layup plus defensive three seconds technical, to open a 62-60 lead.

4:11 Things stopped going the Lakers way as Portland pressed, with Wallace getting back-to-back hoops, then Gasol and Bryant both missing tip ins only to watch Matthews tip in his own miss. The momentum had clearly changed, the crowd off its feet as L.A. saw its first half lead turn into a 72-66 deficit.

0:00 It got worse from there, the Lakers still struggling to hit anything (5-for-20 in the quarter), with Portland converting at the other end to open a 10-point lead when Jamal Crawford pulled up from way, way deep for a quarter-concluding triple.

FOURTH QUARTER
8:10 After back-to-back jumpers from Ebanks (playing for Matt Barnes, a coaching decision), and Blake, Bryant checked in with a tough fadeaway over Wallace to cut the lead to seven. Portland, however, responded with a 6-0 run to open its biggest lead at 96-83. Killing the Lakers, as has been the case all season, was transition defense. Wallace was the most frequent beneficiary of sprinting out, including his run-capping layup.

3:39 Despite a Kobe free throw and Gasol tip in of his missed second effort, L.A. still trailed by 10 points as the clock became a major issue. Meanwhile, Jamal Crawford had outscored the LAL bench himself, with a jumper giving him 17 to L.A.’s 14.

0:00 Bryant and Gasol hit a few more tough shots, but the Lakers couldn’t get any closer than nine in the final minutes, thus dropping to 4-4 on the season after a ____ loss. They’ll be back at it on Friday evening at home for a rare road/home back-to-back against Golden State. We’ll see you there.