Mar 23

Lakers Outlast Pesky Blazers

By mikebarrett

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.


  1. Hey Mike Thank you for the Blog.
    I got to see the game on KGW; I wrote that I didn't feel we had the man power to beat the Lakers without Camby and GW, but if we could stay in the game and give effort I would be happy because we were on a b2b and the lakers had a days rest, so the advantage of youth was taken away. OBTW Sessions is going to make the Lakers hard to beat again with his dribble drive, finding shooters and taking some of the load off Kobe.

    To me it was a good game on both ends of the court, we were just out muscled; our 2nd unit with JJ Hickson was terrific, that will win us some games if they can play that good. I know Nolan has a ways to go yet but he is sure looking good with more minutes.

    by Hg on 3/23/2012 11:14 PM
  2. Meh, no one likes losing to the Lakers, but it's nice to see effort, and that's all Blazer fans should watch this season.

    I don't listen to John Canzano much, but I happened to today while driving. He asked the question, "Do you want the Blazers to make the playoffs". He made it clear he wasn't asking if we thought he would make it but if we WANT to.

    My answer, although I didn't call in (I was driving, and I respect the law), was simply no. I don't want this team to make the playoffs. I've said this over and over and if you choose to read this you'll hear me say it again. Basically, this team messed around. Although losing sucks, and I don't want to lose. Every game I see I want the Blazers to win but when they fall short, instead of getting frustrated for the rest of the night like I'd normally do, I say, "Meh" and simply enjoy that we have a chance at getting a draft pick. That's the future for the Blazers.

    I have a question for all Blazer fans. What happens if we do make the playoffs? Do you really think this team can beat any of those top 4 teams in a 7 game series? Dallas? Lost to them last year, even with Roy having a miraculous game. Lakers? Couldn't beat them tonight despite Kobe being terrible, and their newest member absolutely destroyed us. We also saw that the refs never call 3 in the key on Bynum. San Antonio? Uhh... no. When was the last time we won there without B-Roy? OKC? We all saw how terrible the refs were on... what was it.... last Sunday? And that wasn't even a playoff game.

    The fact of the matter is the Blazers have no chance of getting past the first round, and absolutely no chance of making the playoffs. So what exactly is the point of winning about 45% of your games and getting stuck with the 11th pick or something? Your season ends in 66 games regardless. I'm NOT saying the Blazers should tank and try to get the highest pick possible, I'm saying that I like what coach Kaleb is doing by playing everyone and getting them ready for next season. The thing that pains me is the Blazers are foolishly thinking they can make the playoffs. Ever since Crawford told us "we're making the playoffs" the Blazers have gone 2-3. That's not progress. You never want to be in the position of the having your fate decided by another team, and right now Houston, Minnesota, Jazz, and Phoenix are all playing so much better than the Blazers. Seasons ending in 19 games folks, face the reality.

    But, I will say this game has a ton of promise. The Blazers really only need one or two more above average players to be a force. Get a great center and a point guard in the draft. Give them good minutes (Kaleb will do that) and give them experience. Next year we should get to the playoffs, and probably get out in the first round again but I'm okay with that, as long as we see progression with those guys. The Blazers should look into this deep draft, or go for stars. No more going for this BS where you have a starting lineup of 5 above average players but none of them being stars that can control a game. Aldridge can make his baskets but he can't control a game like a guard can. Blazers either need to go big or go to the draft.

    As for this game. Good effort, not a surprising ending. Again, it shows promise for this team. The game was also closer than the final score showed. Blazers stuck with them, but couldn't ever grab the lead. The one thing that makes me ponder is... where was LaMarcus Aldridge? The Blazers seemed to have forgotten him. 21pts at halftime, and only 6 more shots the entire game? That was headscratching....

    by Herr on 3/24/2012 1:53 AM
  3. Double post sorry

    by Herr on 3/24/2012 2:35 AM
  4. Nothing to hang our heads about here. If the last two games efforts can become a habit, we will do alright.

    I really like the energy of J.J. Hickson. He's big and he's skilled.

    Hg. is right about Nolan.

    Nice to see LMA not being passive.

    by Ancientone on 3/24/2012 4:14 AM
  5. Herr: I think LMA ran out of gas. Also after that monster first half the Lakers were focusing on shutting him down. Thanks for the chance to visit the fridge.

    by Ancientone on 3/24/2012 4:22 AM
  6. Herr:
    What do I get if we make it to the play-offs, a chance to watch the Blazers play at least four more games, I am like the Blazers, I live in the moment. Now don't get me wrong, I have no thoughts or wants to die, but after my resent health problems, I just can't live for the tomorrows you are talking about.

    Another thing, I will see more development of Nolan, See what the Blazers can do with Thabeet, see if Flynn is better and more consistent then Raymond, which IMO wouldn't be much, More time to watch JJ, and watch Joel develop his dribble with that big grin on his face. I will get to watch coach K with more experience keep the team playing hard and fast, all of that is really as important as high draft picks, which is still a stab in the dark, as we don't know if they can translate to great NBA play. We may trade some of our assets, draft picks and cap space for an elite or all-star back court anyway, so I can't go with the tank group other then playing the bench more and the players that are going to go less, over playing solely for the win.

    Last but not least, if the only reason I watched the Blazers was to see them win the championship I would have missed out on a lot of fun and exciting entertainment. Plus I am like Kassandra; if we had a championship team the NBA would find ways to take it away from us in favor of the high market teams.

    Ancientone: two trips to the fridge in one night will definitely put on some of that wt you lost.

    by Hg on 3/24/2012 5:45 AM
  7. Unfortunately I didn't get to watch the game, but from looking at the box score I liked what I saw. Sure we didn't win, but we kept it close. There's no surprise to me that we got out-rebounded. And of course, Bynum had a big night. Nothing against Pryzbilla, but the Blazers just don't have anyone on their roster than can be looked to as an answer for Bynum. He's just too big and too athletic. Was happy to see that Kobe was kept under control, and that the blazers really challened the rest of the laker team to be the ones who won it. On the second night of a back to back, on the road, against a team that we don't match up with very well, I'm satisfied.

    As for us making the playoffs, I for one am leaning towards saying not making the playoffs would be a bigger plus for us. If we were to make the playoffs, in all likelihood we'd barely eek our way into the 8th spot, get matched up against one of the L.A. teams or OKC, and exit in the first round. More importantly, we wouldn't have a lottery pick in the draft. Looking to the future, that lottery pick could be much, much more valuable.

    by soulseeker on 3/24/2012 2:32 PM
  8. Make the playoffs or don't make the playoffs. Doesn't matter. Both have good arguments. You don't make it you get a better chance in the draft. That's always a crap shoot. You do make it you gain the experience. There is no substitute for playoff experience.
    51 by Kevin Love. Are you kidding me. Wow!
    Wouldn't surprise me at all if we see Nate in the RG again. Coaching the Clippers.

    by Divotking on 3/24/2012 3:51 PM
  9. Divotking: Don't forget that 51 points was in double overtime.
    The only way to tank is give playing time to the players that we want to find out if they will be here next year. If we can win with them great, if not either way we get experience.

    I am like you, it doesn't matter if we make it to the play-offs or not, except it would be at least 4 more games before the season ends and we have to face the long summer. Do you think Nate will coach for the Clippers? I never thought of that; I figured he would go to Charlotte.

    by Hg on 3/24/2012 4:31 PM
  10. Hg;
    51 is 51. Double overtime. What a game. The wolves lost the game. Durant had 45 but most important 17 rebounds. Has to be a career high.
    The Clippers are on a slide. If they slide too far Vinny is gone. I know Nate is a Carolina native but he is well respected around the league. He can get a better gig than the Bobcats.
    If I was a Clipper and needed a coach I would take a hard look at Nate.

    by Divotking on 3/24/2012 5:54 PM
  11. Rebounding the ball. I am anal about it. NBA teams all shoot around 50%. To me every rebound , every possession is worth one point. How many more rebounds did the Laker's get. How many points did they win by? In my opinion rebounding is one of the most important parts of the game. Rebounding has been the Blazers biggest weakness all year.

    by Divotking on 3/24/2012 9:02 PM
  12. Two new teams going out to show what they have tonight. We cannot go by past stats since they have traded Monta Ellis, and maybe Curry is out for the year. and we traded Camby and GW. We are at home and that should give us our victory.

    by Hg on 3/25/2012 7:33 AM
  13. It was a nice effort and something to cheer about.
    No sense for the blazers to make the playoffs as first round would be all it has. so lets get the bench in the game and see who we have and who we want to keep heading into the draft.

    by allie-oop on 3/25/2012 8:15 AM
  14. allie-oop: I still want to get to the play-offs, It doesn't matter if we exit in the first round or not. It would be an accomplishment just getting there, plus, I would get to watch them for at least four more games this year.
    But, I am also in favor of playing bench to see who we keep and who we don't. I just think we can do both. I feel Nolan can move the team on a consistent basis as well as Felton. If JJ can score like he did against LAL, he will be a big improvement. Even Babbitt may bring more. I feel that if Flynn can play the point more and let Nolan play the 2gd, that combo off the bench would be as good as having Jamal casting off every shot. I would also love to see a little of thabeet to see what he can give us. Although he will be a project for next year regardless.

    Oh have I told you that I have animosity against Felton and Jamal LOL?

    by Hg on 3/25/2012 8:47 AM
  15. Hg: I'm with you on the animosity. I wonder sometimes whether we pushed our frustration with the team onto the new guys in the back-court, especially because they started so badly. All players are a mixture of pluses and minuses, but at this point I can't get much enjoyment out of Felton's good games, and when he throws one of his badly-aimed passes, or dribbles around before dumping the ball to someone else who gets stuck with the desperation three, I still get livid. Crawford's turnovers and inability to see his team-mates rile me too, but I've mellowed a little on him. At this point I'm just happy that the bench guys are finally getting their chance. Play them all the minutes it takes to give them more experience and the staff more evidence about what role they can play next year. I don't expect us to make the playoffs and mostly hope we don't, but I still want to see the guys play hard and win when they can. A competitive game against the Lakers, lost because of a few bad plays down the stretch, is something I can live with very comfortably.

    by Islander on 3/25/2012 10:02 AM
  16. Islander: I just want us to play the best we can and win as many games as we can, I just like the play-offs because it is somewhat like a team all star game, getting awarded for good play. Like you, I don't think we will make it, but unlike you I hope that we do.

    With our cap space, we can get a FA that we want, providing they will come to Portland, and I have read a Play-off team has a better chance of getting elite players then lottery teams. Getting top draft picks is still a gamble, so I don't like banking to much on that. We could have had Daran Williams, KP3 and a few others in the draft that we didn't pick. Although, not speaking bad of Nate, maybe some of the draftees we picked could have done better if they started earlier. If our rookies start playing 2 or 3 years after everybody else in their class they seem to be 2 or three years behind their whole NBA career.

    At the least, we just have to take what we get since we can't control the FO that much.

    by Hg on 3/25/2012 10:25 AM
  17. Mike Rice brought out his alter ego, Merlin. Felton pick to click, please.

    Wasn't pretty but even if they are not playing well for 48, the effort is there for 48.

    by Divotking on 3/25/2012 7:29 PM
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