mikebarrett

Mar 20

Lakers Rally Past Blazers, Again

By mikebarrett
As difficult as it is to accept, at least while it’s happening to you, this is what the Lakers do.  This is why they’re an excellent playoff team, once of the best defensive teams in the league, and why Kobe Bryant is still the best clutch player in the NBA.

They’re never out of it, and often times it feels as if they’re toying with you.  As hard as the Trail Blazers were battling to gain any kind of a decent advantage, the Lakers never let the game get out of control.  Portland took the lead in the second quarter, and didn’t relinquish it until the final two minutes of the game.  That certainly says a lot about Portland’s effort on this night, but, like a lot of teams, they left the Staples Center scratching their heads on Sunday night.

After trailing Portland 74-68 with 5:12 left, the Lakers closed the game on a 16-6 run, and hit their final five shots of the game.  Kobe was Kobe, and the Laker defense was smothering.  In the end, the Blazers ran out of big shots and fell 84-80.  It was their third loss to the Lakers this season, and for only the second time in 18 years the Lakers won a season series from the Blazers.

The Lakers have now won 12 of their last 13 games, and their only loss since the all-star break was a nail biter at Miami.  In their last 10 games, they’ve held their opponents to around 87 points per game.  As much as we were searching for ways that Portland could score late in this game, and starting to blame the Blazer offense, most of the credit goes to the L.A. defense.  It’s that simple.

The Trail Blazers dug themselves an early hole in this game, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.  The Lakers held a seven-point lead after the first.  The second quarter belonged to Portland, as they outscored the Lakers 28-17 and took a four-point lead to the half.  After an 18-18 third quarter, Portland took a four-point lead to the fourth.  With just over five minutes left the Blazer lead was six.  But, again, it was far from a comfortable lead.

Marcus Camby got tangled up with Kobe late in this game, and if you saw our replays on the TV broadcast, it was obvious what happened.  It was an ugly twist of the ankle, but fortunately it didn’t appear Camby’s weight made it a lot worse.  The Lakers couldn’t find their x-ray technician in the building (I know, that sounds odd), so the standard x-rays that usually take place after a sprain, didn’t.  Would have been interesting if a Laker player got hurt.  Probably could have found the dude then.  All I can say is that Camby was walking okay as he was boarding the team bus and had his shoe on.  That’s a good sign.  Again, it doesn’t mean everything, but it appeared it could have been much worse.

Clearly, the Lakers had an effective defensive game plan going into this game.  They had watched Wesley Matthews lately, and had seen how he kept Portland in the game early against Dallas with three pointers, and how on fire he was against Philadelphia on Saturday night.  Matthews was completely taken out of Portland’s offense by the Laker defense.  He ended the game 0-4, and didn’t score.

The man that was left open, because of the pressure on the others, was Nicolas Batum.  Batum scored 19 in the first half, and ended with a season-high 25.  LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points, and hit several big buckets down the stretch to keep the Lakers at bay.  The only other Blazer in double figures was Rudy Fernandez, who had 10 off the bench.

It’s a painful loss, but the Trail Blazers can take some positives from it and move on.  Yes, this is a possible playoff preview, but that’s down the road.  Next up it’s Washington, and a game you simply have to win.  But, if you start looking ahead at the schedule after that, it gets a little scary.

After the Wizards on Tuesday, it's San Antonio at the Rose Garden on Friday.  I'm sure the Spurs remember the loss they took at the garden in February.  Then, it's a brutal three-game road trip that'll take us to Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and New Orleans.  All that's left then is Oklahoma City, again, followed by Golden State, Utah, the Lakers, Memphis, and Golden State again.

The good news is, if there is any looking at this gauntlet the Blazers have to now run, the other teams in this jogjam in the west have pretty difficult schedules as well.  It comes down to big games now, big possessions, and clutch play.  That'll decide where the Blazers end up in this race.  There are going to be a few teams in this race on the outside looking in when it's over.  Forget playoff positioning right now.  Let's just get in, and deal with the rest later.
Previous Story: Blazers Step on the Gas

32 Comments

  1. I posted my rant about the Laker loss on the earlier blog but it bears repeating here:

    I am getting sick, sick, sick, of watching the Blazers fail to take advantage of what is handed them on a plate. Yet again, we see the failure the make a play in crunch time and the failure to finish strong at the rim doom our team in a game they should have won.

    With 5 minutes to play, it looked like deja vu all over again at so it was, we just followed the script we seem to have learned so well: walk the ball up the court, let the defense get set, and hope someone can make an outside shot. Nic Batum could but he only got a couple of looks late in the 4th. BRoy, Andre, and Rudy were not hitting (combined 9 for 36, 25%) but they were the ones taking the shots. And Gerald Wallace got only 8 shots the entire game!

    Pathetic is the best description I can come up with...
    --
    don

    by dgpdx on 3/20/2011 9:48 PM
  2. Keep in mind I hate the Lakers. Kobe's post game comments (he complain about the refs) makes me want him to get injured so his career ends and brings a new era to the NBA of non-idiot superstars, but that's a bit too much.

    Anyways, that being said, I am calm on this evening. The Blazers played a great game, and made LA look easy. Problem is, they made Portland look easy on the other end. Both teams had great defense, and the Blazers had even better defense than the Lakers. The problem was that the Lakers had better offense.

    As much as I would have liked a W in the standings rather than an L, and as much as I wish we could be sitting here cheering, it doesn't bother me. I'm proud of the team. Besides the insanely lifeless crowd, that was a playoff atmosphere game, and the Blazers played it the right way. Problem is, we settled for jumpers late, and that AGAIN buried us.

    9 out of 10 times, the way the Blazers played they would beat ANYONE in the league, even the Lakers. Sadly, 10% chance is still a chance, and it happened.

    We move on, we crush San Antonio and OKC, and we enjoy beating the Lakers in the second round. That's what is going to happen. We'll beat them on April 8th (or whenever we play them) and we'll make noise in the playoffs.

    I still stick to my word about sweeping April (and I'm not talking about just the regular season).

    by Herr on 3/20/2011 9:48 PM
  3. Mike, I thought the Lakers was toying with us on offense, but kept the defensive pressure on, I never did feel comfortable that we would win.

    But we did play great D and stayed in the game. We know we can play with the lakers, but I think we are intimidated by the lakers. LA was the better team tonight, you could almost see it the whole game even if we were a little ahead.

    Thank you for your time and post, I will listen to you Tuesday.

    Hg

    by Hg on 3/20/2011 9:49 PM
  4. Come playoff time, I don't want the Lakers in the first round. I think there's a chance we could pull it off, but oh man would it be tough. Regardless of the trials the Lakers have gone through this season, we saw tonight exactly what they're capable of, and that was without a Bynum to help them lock up the middle. Kobe can take control, and it's not fun when he does.

    We played well tonight. I'm impressed with Nico's outing and I hope tonight gave him a confidence boost.

    On to the Wiz.

    by sarahhecht on 3/20/2011 9:57 PM
  5. miller was pathetic down the stretch! roy too! wesley who?

    by sudelander on 3/20/2011 10:16 PM
  6. I can see some people really hate the Lakers and wanted the win, so I'll let their comments slide.

    Anyways I'll be at the game on Tuesday. Whoever else is there needs to start an MVP chant with me to LMA

    by Herr on 3/20/2011 10:36 PM
  7. The Blazers looked like a tired team down the stretch. That happens sometimes when you're playing the second game of a back-to-back.

    by Shem on 3/20/2011 11:08 PM
  8. Yeah, they probably were tired, but when you still have a lead with two and a half minutes to go, and then commit three turnovers during the next minute--two of them leading to cheap baskets at the other end--the loss feels self-inflicted. I understand that the Lakers play tough defense, but you'd think we could find a game plan to get our guards better shots than they managed. Ten for forty-two from your backcourt players isn't going to win many games. Given the way they clamped down on our ballhandlers I'm not sure this was a great game to use the no-point-guard line-up we have been trying of late. Andre was looking bad late in the game, but after we took him out--after one of his mystery turnovers, where he just lost the ball while dribbling--we threw the ball away twice in quick succession. This is the kind of game where the multiple line-up combinations are a liability, because in crunch time you need clarity of purpose, not just a bunch of talented guys who can do different things if the opponents cooperate. Anyway, we're all understandably bummed because we hate the Lakers, once again had them down late, and once again let them off the hook. But the solid defensive play that put us in position to win the game should indeed lead us to victory in many of the tough games ahead.

    by Islander on 3/21/2011 1:00 AM
  9. Islander, one of the "mysterious" turnovers from Andre, in which he seemed to have lost dribble and send it out of bounds was actually a foul on Fisher that wasn't called, because he had already 4 fouls. I can guarantee that if he had less, or wasn't in foul trouble, that foul was called. The ref made the mistake of saying it was Laker ball, when in reality it should have been Blazer ball because Fisher hit Andre's hand to force it out of bounds, which is either a foul or an out of bounds on Fisher.

    There were a couple of plays that gave the Lakers momentum that shouldn't have happened due to silent or incorrect whistles, but the Blazers lost this themselves. However, I am very proud and as you say this kind of play will win against the tough schedule ahead.

    Honestly, I think the Lakers and the Blazers are the two best teams in the Western Conference when you take away records, and they both have the best chances of getting to the WCF. Sadly, it looks like they'll face in the 2nd round. Blazers could win. I'm very convinced. I loved the effort I saw. We just blew too many wide open layups and shots that could have changed the game (again). I'm sure that won't happen as much in the playoffs.

    If we won, I'd just be happy we won. But because we lost, I'm not thinking this is the end of the world. Sundays game was a test, and in my opinion, the Blazers passed.

    by Herr on 3/21/2011 1:53 AM
  10. Hey Mike awesome post you wrote. I felt bad we lost and Camby getting hurt I like to see Portland split the season series. But Tuesday night is the last eastern confrence team of the season . It should be a easy win for us. The wizzards still have won 1 road game . Well I will watch you on courside on Monday night and the game Tuesday. Have a good Monday.

    by jyp on 3/21/2011 2:12 AM
  11. Don't ever say a game should be easy for the Blazers. That's when they take the night off and watch the game instead of playing.

    For some reason Andre couldn't hit a wide open layup in the 1st quarter and then then the outside shooters squandered the opportunities they were given. Somtimes you want the shot so bad you just squeeze the ball too hard.

    by Ancientone on 3/21/2011 5:10 AM
  12. Kobe shudve been T'd up two times in the last few min of this game. He went crazy at one play (i forgot which one) then after Artest's T, Kobe went after the ref. Any other person gets a T, its just stupidly ridiculous Kobe gets treated differently. Oh and btw - that makes it 3 if u count the one from last time we played the Lakers, when kobe shudve been T'd up there too. Like cmon, i know he's kobe, but seriously refs, why shud we lose out cuz ure all in love with the guy (who deosnt stop yelling at u all night long) I dont like the new Tech rules, but i can deal with them. What i can't deal with is people getting treated differently abt the rules... seriously - it's just unright. NBA do something abt it cuz ure just being inconsistent and it makes the game unfair, and quite honestly, dumb..

    Sry mike, that wasnt to you - but do me a favor and send that to the powers that be in the NBA, this is just ridiculous!

    by joe.k on 3/21/2011 5:27 AM
  13. Sudey bear,I hate to disss on my boi, but Dre was pretty sad down the stretch,shooting and handling the ball.
    blazers baby,saw yer post yesterday,Kobe's star treatment is sickening.They make this rule to keep players from complaining,does Kobe or Lebron get T'd up.NO,is the answer.
    Agreed,MB The Laker D was absolutely smothering.We played tough ,nonetheless.I'm proud of the B's .

    by DowntownVinnie on 3/21/2011 6:55 AM
  14. After the Washington game we get Spurs and Thunder twice, and NO and Mavs once each. That is a TOUGH stretch with half of them being on the road. We'll be lucky to win half of those games and I'll be really impress if we do better than .500. I sure hope we don't have a let down against Washington because in these final games of the reg season we must beat the teams we should beat.

    GO BLAZERS!!!!

    by mgb on 3/21/2011 7:57 AM
  15. MGB: If we take care of home-court, we will be OK, but im feeling like you, it is a tough road to hoe from here to the play-offs.

    by Hg on 3/21/2011 9:20 AM
  16. Rain should have helped but instead it fueled the Lake show to a key win.

    by mbmurr1 on 3/21/2011 9:35 AM
  17. Well, I was pretty irritated we lost this one. For the most part, it seems everyone is sort of writing this one off, saying, "well, it's the Lakers, they're the Champs, that's what they do." And that is absolutely true. And that's what's makes it so irritating for me. They do this to us and to everyone else, seemingly whenever they want to! We should have been prepared for it. No let up against everybody lately, except for...the Lakers? Seriously? They lost focus and drive down the stretch. Yeah, they were probably tired, but I don't care. This is the time of year where they simply have to dig deeper, no matter how much they have had to dig prior to this point. Every single game counts, for a lot, even against the defending Champs, and maybe especially against them. No sympathy, no settling, no relaxing. Maybe I am being too tough on the team...and maybe they are not being tough enough on themselves.

    We are finally healthy, have a ton of talent, have some real defensive chops and toughness, and a secure coach. Under no circumstances should we be settling or satisfied with anything other than near perfection for the rest of the season, no matter who it's against. At least, that's my opinion. It's time to show what this team is really made of mentally.

    I say we win the next two at home, then go 2-1 on the road. If it's anything less than that, I will be very disappointed in this team.

    Go Blazers!

    by SisillaRiann on 3/21/2011 9:38 AM
  18. Wow!! Only the second time in 18yrs the lakers have one a season series?? I'm assuming there must've been a lot of splits in the other 15?

    by Religion:trailblazers on 3/21/2011 10:04 AM
  19. In my opinion mental toughness has nothing to do with throwing passes into traffic. That happens because the team has to work hard against tough defensive pressure and hasn't played together enough to know what patterns will break down that pressure. The guys end up scrambling and see an opening that's not really there. You put Gerald and Brandon on the floor in crunch time and you've got a combination of players on the floor that has had precious little time to mesh. And offensive execution against championship-quality defense requires that deep feel for what teammates will do. That's the downside of our current situation. We've got Brandon, who at times approaches his old ability to score, seemingly at will, or at least draw a double for a good dish, and we've got Gerald, who does many, many positive things, but right now we also sacrifice the knowledge players gained from long, meaningful hours on the floor with one another. It's a negative from the trade, along with a very serious lack of depth at the big positions that could be catastrophic if Marcus' injury keeps him out for long.

    by Islander on 3/21/2011 11:33 AM
  20. Yah,MGB I figured 8-8 for last 16.

    by DowntownVinnie on 3/21/2011 1:46 PM
  21. The lakers didn't win that game. We simply lost it. Very poor performance in the last minutes of the game.

    by joseph01 on 3/21/2011 6:35 PM

  22. it's time for the Bs to put the hurt on a few of these other teams over the last few weeks. i'm ready to get back on the sean marks bus as of Apr. 3rd as well.

    our guys are past due and deserving of having things break in their direction to finish the regular season, starting with a sideways g. wallace superman jam.

    by reverse on 3/21/2011 11:49 PM
  23. DTV,

    There are only 12 games left, unless you are counting the first round? :)

    We would have to finish 11-1 to get to 51 wins like I've been saying we were going to do, but I kind of doubt it now. Beat the teams we should and split the games against the tough teams and we'll go 8-4. Going to be tough, but I have confidence in my Blazers. Then we'd finish with 48 wins, one more than the 47 Rice predicted at the beginning of the season.

    by mgb on 3/22/2011 12:22 AM
  24. This loss shows the importance of experience. LA has more but I won't say we lost because they're the "Champs." That's more respect than I'm willing to give them and that gives us an excuse to lose. We lost it because of us, not because of them. joseph01 i agree.

    I'm not pissed because we played hard. I'm just upset because we lost when we could have won. There is no single player to blame on this game. We win as a team and we lose as a team.

    Go Blazers!

    by thedanman on 3/22/2011 4:53 AM
  25. thedanman:
    I agree with you on the experience part and because of us, our lack of experience caused mistakes down the stretch and their experience took advantage of those mistakes. When the Blazers are playing a game with the score within 9Pts of each other there is little room for error, plus the Lakers ability to play lock down defense on their home court where the refs just lets them play gives them the advantage.

    I am not upset, I am more or less happy that we stayed in the game and gave ourselves a chance to win. Of course a win would have been better, but a close game like that from start to finish, you will win some and lose some. Nevertheless, the Blazers down the stretch has the tendency to milk the clock and play not to lose whether then play to win and that may have been the biggest issue. I don't know if that was the case or if the Lakers just kicked their defense to a higher gear and we couldn't respond.

    This was a long winded story, just to say that I agree with you.

    by Hg on 3/22/2011 6:16 AM
  26. Hg: Only one cookie, keep going. EA, Kassandra, and Vinnie have all gone short on me. I'm going to have to start War and Peace again to supplement my reading. These blogs are much more fun to read.

    by Ancientone on 3/22/2011 9:13 AM
  27. Ancientone:

    You are just missing those often trips to the frig. I had to go back to WORK so I am not as available as I used to be. Vinnie is like a bad penny, he will return. Kassandra has been taking her finals and couldn't disturb her, and EA has been out on the desert and came back with a bad temper(maybe from the ill-tempered Rattlers) and I was afraid to take a bite out of her mood LOL. All in all the peace and war games will continue after brief interruptions

    by Hg on 3/22/2011 10:11 AM

  28. don't sleep on tiago splitter. that guy can play, and grabbed 14 rebs when duncan went down. his young legs could give them a boost.

    by reverse on 3/22/2011 11:18 AM
  29. sorry Ancientone; on spring break. i brought my dormie home for a visit and i'm busy showing her around. can't say it won't happen again.

    the laker game: there were a lot of little things which cost us the game (i.e. drought from 4:00 to :45 in the fourth, not going inside enough, lax defense in the paint, etc.). we turn any one of those around, we win the game.

    tonight is washington; a dangerously quick team. they'll want to run and we should too. we're probably the more athletic team overall and our bench is deeper. i'm looking for LaMarcus, Nicolas and Wesley on the gast break, with a heave dose of Gerald, Rudy and Brandon. we can win this game tonight, and we should win it. it's up to the guys to go out and get it done.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 3/22/2011 3:07 PM
  30. on another note: i wrote a blog about Nicolas Batum before the game against the lakers. modestly speaking, i think it's a good read: http://t.co/qZbnlwY

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 3/22/2011 3:09 PM
  31. mgb: Rice will never let us forget if we win 47 games. you know he'll brag a little!

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 3/22/2011 3:13 PM
  32. Well, Kassandra, I only hope Rice wasn't too optimistic in his prediction!
    --
    don

    by dgpdx on 3/22/2011 5:27 PM
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