Lakers Outlast Pesky Blazers
There are no moral victories in this league, especially at this point of the season, but the Trail Blazers shouldn’t feel a lot of shame after the fight they put up at the Staples Center on Friday night. Playing the second of a back to back, following an emotional win on Thursday night at the Rose Garden over Memphis, the Blazers were running on fumes the second half, but refused to die. In the end, the Lakers size, offensive rebounding, and ability to hit clutch shots, were just too much to overcome.
The Lakers improved to 20-3 at home, and took the season series from the Trail Blazers 2-1, with their 103-96 victory.
As close the Blazers stayed in the second half, they were never able to get over the hump, and oddly enough, never held a lead in this game. They only tied the score twice, but were within one on several occasions in the fourth quarter, the last time at 90-89 with just under three minutes left. Given the way this game started, with Kobe Bryant hitting from the outside, and Andrew Bynum controlling the middle, this appeared to have the makings of another long night in L.A.
LaMarcus Aldridge, who did his best to combat the Lakers huge size advantage, had a great game with 29 points, on 12 for 18 shooting, and also pulled down 9 rebounds. The loss also spoiled a great performance by Wesley Matthews, who had 16 points. As good as Matthews has been offensively as of late, his defense is what kept the Trail Blazers within striking distance in this game. Kobe hit five of his first six shots, but then Matthews stopped that. Bryant went 0 for 11 the rest of the way and ended with 18 points.
Four Trail Blazers scored in double figures, led by Aldridge and Matthews. Jamal Crawford scored 10 off the bench, and the newest Trail Blazer, J.J. Hickson, just claimed off waivers, scored 14 to lead the way for the second unit. Hickson, who’s always had a nice offensive game, went 6 for 9 from the field in his 22 minutes.
The one stat that leaps of the page, and one that absolutely decided this game, was the rebounding total. The Laekrs, who are huge inside, ended with a 53-29 advantage on the boards, including a 17-6 total on the offensive glass. That was too much for Portland to overcome.
It was 18-8 in second-chance points, and the extra possessions were just what the Lakers needed. As much as those second opportunities hurt on the scoreboard, they do just as much damage emotionally- especially when you’re already physically exhausted. It’s actually amazing the Blazers stayed as close as they did getting outrebounded like that.
Portland’s will in this game was where it needed to be, and that’s the one big positive that came out of this loss. Nothing about losing feels good, but there’s certainly some to build on following this effort.
It’s now home for three games before we return to Staples next Friday night to take on the Clippers. First up is Golden State on Sunday, in a 6pm start.