Blazers Come Up Empty in LA
Burn the game film of this game. Actually, being it's usually on DVD these days, frisbee them against the wall. Or, erase the hard drive on the scouting computer, and just move on.
You don't want to totally forget what happened on Sunday night in Los Angeles, but this is probably a case where you simply turn the page quickly and don't dwell on it. I do think the Lakers gave the Blazers some pretty good lessons in this ball game, but it didn't have much to do with Portland. The Lakers are locked in, focused, and are playing an an incredibly high level this early in the season. Plus, they were very well rested while the Blazers were playing the second of a back to back.
I'm not going to get off on a tangent here and start complaning about the schedule, but when national writers are pointing out the shaft that was given to the Blazers by the NBA's schedule makers, we should at least mention it. If you don't think that's a factor, you're not aware of how things work in the NBA.
The Blazers have already played three sets of back to backs, and are coming off a brutal second full week of the NBA season. As ESPN's Mark Stein said in his piece today... "Latest entry for your next You'll-Never-Guess-What-Happened-to-Portland-This-Time discussion: The Blazers were assigned to play FIVE games in the second week of the season... and had to visit the Lakers in game No. 5
No one around the team is looking to make excuses, but to say the schedule has been tough so far is an understatement. For a team that's looking to find its legs early in a season, it's been brutal. It's amazing what's happened in the last few weeks. Jeff Pendergraph, one of the most popular Blazers on the team, goes down with the knee injury and has to be waived to make room for help. Fabricio Oberto comes in, seems to be the perfect fit, and then has to retire. Elliot Williams hurts his knee and is gone for the season. Then, of course, the biggest emotional blow of losing assistant coach Lucas. Tough month.
Okay, that maybe helps explain some of it. And, if you want to call me an apologist for the team, that's fine. I'm just stating things that are certainly factors in Portland coming back to Earth after a 3-0 start. By the way, the schedule doesn't get much easier this week. We got home in the wee hours on Monday morning, will attend the Maurice Lucas Memorial Service, and then will host Detroit on Tuesday, before heading out to Oklahoma City, New Orleans, and Memphis.
Now, a couple of things on the actual game.
The Lakers blistered Portland early and often on Sunday night. This thing was never a contest, and that hasn't happened to the Blazers much the last couple of years. I can't remember many times where they were beaten so completely, from the opening tip until the end, with really no serious run in the game and no positives to take from it. Heck, going into the game, the Blazers had beaten the Lakers in four of the previous five meetings, and had even won on their last trip to L.A., in April of last season.
But, in this one, it was 27-14 Lakers after the first quarter, and that was pretty much it. I've watched a couple of Lakers games so far this season, but hadn't seen them up close like this. The additions of Steve Blake and Matt Barnes were terrific, and I think right now they're a better team, maybe a lot better, than they were last season. Scary thought. They shot 55 percent against the Blazers, and outrebounded them 49-25. That's a huge number. Portland doesn't get outrebounded like this.
Tuesday night will be pretty telling. The Blazers bounced back well from Thursday's loss to OKC, with a win over Toronto. Now, another bounce-back game awaits. This one leads us into a tough three-game trip. Too early to say "must win," but it's certainly an important game.
The best news, after all of this craziness, is that the Blazers are 5-3 and are not happy. They shouldn't be after Sunday's loss, of course. But, they probably also have to be careful not to start feeling sorry for themselves or this thing could snowball. Nate McMillan has always been good at getting his players to circle the wagons. He'll do it again. He has to.
Here are his comments after the loss to the Lakers. Click here
Then, issue your own comments.