Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Monday evening home contest against Portland, the Lakers returning home after Sunday’s loss at Phoenix, 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, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
Blazers: R. Felton, N. Batum, G. Wallace, L. Aldridge, M. Camby
6:50 If you like extra passes, you’d have enjoyed the opening six minutes from the Lakers, who played hot potato with a purpose during a 10-0 run in which Bynum and Gasol scored all 10 points, mostly right at the rim. Bryant was a willing facilitator. On the other end, Portland missed six straight shots (helping Bynum/Gasol get six of their nine boards) after an opening three from Felton. Underscoring all of this was all of the chatter about trade rumors sparked by comments made by Bryant and Gasol (synthesis of it being Bryant asking management to either trade Gasol or tell him they wouldn’t trade him, while suggesting he certainly wanted to keep Pau in Purple and Gold), to which GM Mitch Kupchak offered this response: CLICK HERE.
0:00 Give Kobe some credit, because whatever he said seemed to have the effect of really rallying the Lakers around the flag … helping produce a big time blowout score of 29-7 (yes, 7) after the first quarter. Portland managed just 3-of-17 field goals, were out-rebounded 22-5, and watched Bynum and Gasol (12 points, 15 rebounds) out-board them on their own just on the offensive end. Bryant chipped in eight points with a few assists, and the ball continued to fly around in a terrific team effort. Portland was essentially demoralized, though three quarters remained.
8:32 There appeared no signs of slowing down as Steve Blake opened the second with back-to-back triples, then got a floating layup to go that made it 39-10. In fact, a Blazers and-1 from Batum moments prior was the first Portland hoop since the 4:32 mark of the first quarter.
3:00 Portland finally found some rhythm on offense (no NBA game is ever going to be a blow out from start to finish, whether it’s due to energy shifts, human nature taking the foot off the pedal or no calls going to the team who’s up [like in Mario Kart when the 8th place car gets the stars and lightning bolts]), but Blake’s fourth three of the quarter gave him 14 points and L.A. a 47-22 lead.
0:00 And yes, it was a sloppy final three minutes, Portland taking advantage to double L.A. up 10-5 (including a 7-0 run) to make it a 52-30 halftime margin. Bynum’s 12 and 12 led the way, while Blake’s 14 points matched his season high all in one quarter.
3:57 Yes, we’ve seen big leads given up countless times (you already got a Mario Kart reference), and with the energy waning a bit and the ball movement stopped from the first quarter, Portland went on an 11-0 run to cut L.A.’s lead to 17. In fact, it would get as low as 16 at 71-55 on a corner three from Batum, who had a sneaky 15 points to lead Portland.
0:00 L.A. got some traction back to close the quarter, getting still another Blake three (his 3-point percentage rose from 31 to 36 percent thanks to 5-of-5 bombing), a Kobe J, two Gasol free throws and a Barnes tip in to push the lead back to 20. Portland, however, was nearly as hot as Blake from 3, as Matthews and Batum hit the 10th and 11th triples of Portland’s night to get within 14, even as both Bynum (14 and 14) and Gasol (12 and 10) had double-doubles, yet again.
10:21 Suddenly, a 30-point lead was down to just 12 as Wallace hit two free throws after what appeared a bad – or at least very late – call on Bynum. With all the pressure off the game, Portland just steadily managed to hit shots, mostly from the perimeter (paint points were 32-18 after 3), and L.A. was promptly hit with three more personal fouls in the next two minutes, all whistled by Joey Crawford, meaning the Blazers would be shooting bonus FT’s with the next whistle.
6:32 Mike Brown put the starters back in near the eight-minute mark when the lead had been sliced to 10, and Fisher and Bryant rewarded him in the short term with consecutive jumpers to make it 88-74. Portland continued to hang around as Kobe was hit with his seventh technical foul of the season thanks to some pointed arguing after a charge call with Wallace draped to his jersey.
0:00 L.A. would, however, hold on to win comfortably. The starters checked out with about two minutes left and an 18-point lead. A few garbage time hoops from Portland’s subs cut the lead to what turned into a 103-92 final. Bryant went for 28 points, Bynum finished with 14 points and 19 boards, Gasol 16 points, 12 boards and four assists and Blake 17 points off the pine. With the win, the Lakers (19-13) improved to 14-2 at home, and picked up a game in the standings on the Clippers (19-11), who lost at Golden State. Next up is a tricky back-to-back at Dallas and Oklahoma City on Wednesday and Thursday leading into the All-Star break. We’ll see you there.