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Too little, too late in Tinseltown

  1. Written by: KevinHudson

    The Portland Trail Blazers couldn't overcome their 7-point first quarter offensive performance Monday, as they fell 103-92 to the Los Angeles Lakers in front of 18,997 at the Staples Center.

    Portland (17-16) led 3-0 out of the gate on a quick Raymond Felton three-pointer, but a 10-0 Lakers run put the home team in the lead, which grew to 16-5 before a LaMarcus Aldridge jump hook cut the lead to single digits with five minutes left in the first quarter.

    Los Angeles (19-13) would then close the quarter on a 13-0 run to lead 29-7 headed into the second period. The Trail Blazers seven points was their worst offensive quarter of the season, as they shot 17.6 percent (3-of-17) from the field and were outrebounded 21-5.

    "I thought that tonight we didn’t come here ready to play. It kind of felt like we started the All Star break tonight and did not come out focused and ready to play," said Portland coach Nate McMillan. "There’s no excuse for that first half and we knew that this team would come out, be aggressive, and play hard after the way the way they played and lost last night but I just didn’t feel that we came ready to play tonight."
    Back-to-back three-pointers by Lakers guard Steve Blake and a pair of Andrew Bynum free throws to open the second period pushed the Lakers run to 21-0 and the lead swelled to 30 points, 37-7, with 9:10 remaining in the half.

    Blake led the Lakers reserves with 17 points off the bench on 6-of-9 shooting, including 5-of-6 from three-point range. Bynum scored 14 points while pulling down a game-high 19 rebounds.

    "They attacked us and we didn’t attack them. They did to us what we wanted to do to them and that was to get out in transition and run, attack the rim, and force turnovers," said Portland forward Gerald Wallace. "Everything we wanted to do to them, they did to us in the first quarter. They forced us to take jump shots."

    Portland battled back to a 23-23 draw for the second quarter and trailed 52-30 at the half, then put together a 36-point third quarter, their best offensive quarter of the season. The Trail Blazers pulled within 14 points of the Lakers on a Nicolas Batum three-pointer, 80-66, headed into the final period.

    Batum and Aldridge led Portland with 18 points each, with Batum adding six rebounds, five assists and a career-high-tying four blocked shots while Aldridge pulled down eight rebounds.

    The Trail Blazers would cut the Lakers lead to 10 points twice in the fourth quarter but never got over the hump, as Nate McMillan cleared the bench in the game's waning minutes to settle for the final margin.

    "It was a big hill to climb when you dig a hole for yourself like that," McMillan said. "They just basically ran whatever they wanted, got whatever they wanted, uncontested shots as well as offensive boards. At the half it was about just really playing it and not embarrassing yourself. We’re better than that, we know that and there’s no excuse for that."

    Jamal Crawford led the Trail Blazers reserves with 15 points and five assists. Marcus Camby led the rebounding effort with 13 boards as the Lakers outrebounded Portland 51-37.

    The loss dropped the Trail Blazers to 5-11 on the road this season.

    "Our focus all year on the road hasn’t been where it needs to be. We’re a great team at home but when we get on the road it seems like we don’t play with the same energy and aggression that we need," Camby said. "We can’t rely on the Rose Garden crowd every night to carry us."

    Kobe Bryant led the Lakers attack with 28 points and Pau Gasol notched a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

    Portland wraps up its pre-All-Star break schedule at the Rose Garden Tuesday, 7 p.m., against the San Antonio Spurs, who have the league's longest current winning streak at 11 consecutive games.

    The game can be seen locally on Comcast SportsNet (Comcast channel 37). 750 AM The Game and NBA Audio League Pass will have the play-by-play call.


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