mikebarrett

Apr 10

Kobe Gets 47 and Rare Win in Portland

By mikebarrett
When one of the greatest players in NBA history, playing on the second night of a back-to-back, puts up 47 points and plays the entire 48 minutes, willing his team to a huge win, you have to tip your cap.

That was Kobe Bryant on Wednesday night at the Rose Garden.

It was the first time in Kobe's career that he'd played the entire game, in a non-overtime game, on the road.  He was brilliant.

The Rose Garden has been his nemesis, and the Lakers, who had won just six of the last 31 games they've played in Portland, had to have this game.  This late push for the final playoff spot in the west was basically on the line, as it's going to likely be in their final three games, and Kobe was at his best.

The Blazers, who started four rookies, did themselves proud in this game.  We've talked about everyone's distain for moral victories, so we won't call it that.  But, they went down swinging, and that's all you can ask.  And, Damian Lillard?  What more could be possibly be asked of him?

Lillard carried this young Portland team all night, and nearly carried them to the victory.  He ended with a career-high 38 points, and did that while being the entire focus of the Laker defense.

They put Steve Blake on him, they put Kobe on him, and even tried Metta World Peace on him.  Lillard hit 5 of his 11 three-point attempts, ended with nine assists, recorded three steals, and turned the ball over only two times.  That's a pretty amazing number, given the pressure and attention he was getting all night.

The Blazers led early by as many as 12, fell behind by 7 in the third quarter, but reclaimed the lead, and fought the Lakers into the final minutes before finally falling 113-106.  The Laker defense finally began to take its toll on Portland, as they ended up shooting just 6 for 23 in the 4th quarter.  Three huge offensive rebounds in the final few possessions ended up sealing the deal for the Lakers.

The first half was all about offense, for both teams, and was mostly simply Kobe vs. Lillard. Kobe's 17 first-quarter points was matched by 17 from Lillard.  At halftime Bryant had 28, and Lillard had 25.  Through three quarters Kobe had 39 and Lillard had 34.  In other words, Lillard went toe to toe with greatness, and nearly helped his team to the win.  

The Lakers now move a full game ahead of Utah for the final playoff spot in the west.  They have three games remaining, and all will be home games.  They'll host Golden State, San Antonio, and Houston.  Utah hosts Minnesota, plays at Minnesota, and then finishes the season at Memphis.  If the Jazz win all three, the Lakers have to win all three.  

If the teams end tied, the Jazz get the playoff spot because they won the season series.  In other words, by winning in Portland, the Lakers control their own destiny.  Win out and they're in. Slip up, and Utah can reclaim the spot with three victories.

A couple of notes on Lillard, who had gone five-straight games without a game of 20+ points before this one.  He became the first NBA player this season to record 38 points, 9 assists, and 3 steals in a game.  If there was any doubt that he'd make it a clean sweep in the Rookie of the Month awards, this likely put that to bed.

Kobe tweeted out after the game, "Lillard is the real deal."  That's pretty high praise.  Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said after the game, about Lillard "that's about as good as you can get. That's about as good a rookie as I've ever seen."

So, even if the Blazers didn't beat the Lakers, they've got that going for them- which is nice.



20 Comments

  1. Exciting game. Too bad Maynor can't hit wide open layup or open 3.

    by Ancientone on 4/10/2013 10:15 PM
  2. The rookies did a good job. If Kobe didn't get a foul shot for every look that he misses.

    by Ancientone on 4/10/2013 10:18 PM
  3. Pavlovic made his first foul shot of the year. He was 0-4 for the season before tonight. I was telling my brother when he went to the line tonight that he has a chance to make his first foul shot of the year.

    Now, that I mentioned a stat nobody would focus or even think about, I must say it was fun watching Lillard go off tonight. The problem was our hot shooting was "fools gold" (I had to put in a Mike Rice type quote) because our defense isn't very good and Meyers Leonard looked like deer in the headlights.

    If I was on the Blazer coaching staff, I would serious have a sit down with Will Barton and tell him that he needs to take at least 500 shots a day during the off season from the perimeter, including 300 3-pointers a day. Barton is 7-57 from downtown this year. That's 12.3%.

    I know Mike Rice said it was 18% in the game tonight (that's still terrible), but it's just about 12%. For the amount he's taken, that's horrible. If Barton had any drive about getting better, nobody would have to say that to him, he would know to do that. And even if somebody did say it, he's take the suggestion seriously and maybe even expand it to at least 700 shots a day or something. Barton has a boatload of potential, but it's all going to be how he approaches it and for him to be successful, he's going to have to learn how to shoot.

    As for Meyers Leonard, if he's going to be a decent player in the near future, he seriously needs to watch a lot of film this summer and I hope he has some long sit down sessions with coaches on his game, especially on defense. But he also needs to learn to use his height as an advantage on offense. He his shot blocked twice that shouldn't have happened if you knew how to position his body. One of those times he was blocked, it was a footwork issue. It's one of those things where I would need to show you how, but if he had pivoted and turned his back on the defender coming at him, he would have got fouled and possibly had a 3-point play. It was on a great pass from Lillard that he botched.

    The 2nd time he was blocked... and BTW he was 2-4 from the field and his two misses were shots that were blocked... anyway, he jumped and brought the ball down where a defender could get his hands on it and that is where he screwed up instead of playing big and keeping the ball up and some of that is also body position. Again, it's something I would have to show you in person to fully get a picture of what needs to be done.

    And BTW, I used to play post when I grew up as I'm 6'7" (without shoes) and played college ball, and I grew up in an era where coaches used to do drills about footwork and spacing, etc. Then later I go to one of my nephew's basketball practices and he was coached by someone I played ball against and nobody knew how to be a post and it's been a trend as to why the center position is dying because of it. Anyway, I was just confused to why nobody thinks some of those fundamentals I grew up with are important anymore.

    But with Meyers, it's really, really bad. This is going to be a major project with him and that's assuming it works out, but there are no guarantees. So I admit that I have doubts that Leonard will be a good starting center in the NBA because I question his mentality out there and only he knows if he is ever going to turn that around and since I don't know him personally, it's tough to say. I only met him once at FanFest and it was weird being around someone that much taller than me since most people I meet aren't and if they are, it isn't by much.

    by Shem on 4/10/2013 11:12 PM
  4. Lakers missing one starter, Blazers missing three (including our best on-Kobe defender), and still we pushed them to the limit. There's something cooking here in PDX.

    @Shem: You're right about Meyers Leonard. Had he stayed in college for four years, he may have learned to play center. He has a long way to go and learning on the job in the NBA is a tough way to go. I still see him as a PF long term.
    --
    don

    by dgpdx on 4/10/2013 11:47 PM
  5. One more observation, if Damian got Kobe's level of respect from the refs, he'd have scored 50 and we win the game.
    --
    don

    by dgpdx on 4/10/2013 11:52 PM
  6. As far as I am concerned the Blazer players beat the Lakers players hands down, the refs beat the Blazers single handed. It is a shame to have the refs tarnish the game so badly.

    If I were a Laker player or Laker fan, I would feel I had nothing to take from this game because it was given to them. It is sad because Kobe played one heck of a game, but it the refs took over the game.

    by Hg on 4/11/2013 2:08 AM
  7. Hg: I too am not a fan of phantom fouls for prima dona stars. Kobe thinks he is entitled to a foul shot for every shot he misses. Damian was hacked regularly when he went inside. If he were Kobe he would have shot 12-15 free throws.

    by Ancientone on 4/11/2013 6:41 AM
  8. I agree with all of you about the refs. I am not sure how many of Kobe's points came from the line but I am guessng16-20. In our house, we have decided that the refs got word that the NBA wants the Lakers in the playoffs for cash purposes. A lot of Lakers fans out there. Too many in our house last night, hollering MVP when Kobe came to the line for the last time. Sucked!
    I personally wonder how the Lakers will make it. They barely beat an under .500 team that was missing three starters. HUH!
    I also agree with all of the above regards Leonard. He never seems to know where to be. Every once in awhile, he gives a glimpse of what his rebounding could be and then lets Steve Blake pick up two important rebounds in the last minutes. Hello...6"3 vs 7"1. Where are you?
    And finally, hats off to Damian Lillard. We are lucky to have you. There would not have been a season without you. Even our other starters need to watch your effort. Sucks that the refs let the Lakers beat up on you without giving you the same calls they gave Bryant. You are the best and I look forward to watching you for a long time.

    by allie-oop on 4/11/2013 6:51 AM
  9. Maybe next year Damian will get respect from the refs after he has earned Rookie of the Year this season!

    by dockaren on 4/11/2013 7:05 AM
  10. MB,

    It's nice to finally be back! I watched the game and have to respect the effort that all of the rookies showed.

    That being said, there is still plenty of room for improvement, especially for Meyers. I agree with the fact that he's really going to have to watch a lot of film. If he's going to be a starting 4 or 5, he has to learn to go right back up with the ball after getting an offensive rebound and at least draw a foul. None of this dribbling out of the key crap.

    If anything, I hope Blazers management is patient with him and that Stotts gives him enough playing time to keep learning. The last thing I want to see is them pulling another Jermaine O'Neal and trading him four years later after sitting him on the bench most of the time. We ALL know how that turned out.

    He could be a starter for the Blazers as long as we have a defensive-minded center, i.e. Kaman, backing him up. Or, dare I say a sixth-man backing up Kaman??? Time will tell, and it's exciting.

    Also a shout-out to Sasha for playing an inspired game after being out for a while! Also to Victor, as I knew he'd do his best in the lineup. Luke Babbitt...I honestly don't know if it's worth keeping him for another season, but those threes were going again, so I can't complain too much right now.

    All in all, outstanding effort despite the loss.

    -Max Milander '14

    by linfieldrunner on 4/11/2013 9:26 AM
  11. I got the ultimate solution to fix these posers called Laker fan; Blazer fans need to make Laker fan nervous about being there by taunting them, pouring beer and soda on them; be like Philly fans or Raider fans, let the Laker fans know they are going to be miserable at the game. (BTW, THIS IS A JOKE!) but in all seriousness, best way to keep Laker fan away is by the Blazers beating them. Sure they will have a game like they did this one, but those are rare occasions. Keep the RG magic alive and BEAT LA!

    by blazerdarren77 on 4/11/2013 3:54 PM
  12. Fantastic game. Kobe does not make me feel warm and fuzzy but he willed a bad team to a victory against a Blazer team that came to fight. I respect that.
    Fair weather fans viewed the game last night as another loss. The fans that follow the NBA and the Blazers closely know exactly whats brewing here. The years ahead are going to be full of excitement.
    Shem;
    My wife was handed her program at the fan fest from Meyers. She too could not believe how tall he was. She is 5'3".
    I entered through a different gate and was handed my program from none other than Damian Lillard. Priceless.

    by Divotking on 4/11/2013 4:42 PM
  13. @Divotking: LOL We were in the same line. That's awesome. What were the chances of that? I did make it a point to say hi to Aldridge and Batum while I was there.

    @dgpdx: I agree more years in college would help Meyers, but at the same time he hasn't shown me he has the mentality to be great. And I really didn't find anything about him before I saw him play about his mentality that told me he's going to be great.

    Like with Damian Lillard, I knew he would be great. Forget the scouting videos that were very intriguing. What really stood out to me was listening to his coaches and people who knew him best about his work ethic and how he approaches things "MENTALLY". That is what sold me because it was screaming future superstar.

    Then to see him in videos and the things he could do and especially watching him with serious shooting range already, I was just stunned that he wasn't on a larger radar. The blessing in disguise for us is two things:

    1. He went to Weber St. Being from a small school like that is a big reason why he wasn't the 2nd pick of the draft (I still think Anthony Davis still goes 1st).

    2. Neil Olshey. He had his eye on him while he was still working for the Clippers. He made that great discovery and it just so happened that Paul Allen then later hired him to be the Blazers GM and from that point he was ours. Thank goodness he saw those things too or I would be very bitter if we never drafted him and he did that somewhere else knowing what I knew.

    But what's flattering from my end is how I wanted Lillard about a month before Olshey was hired. Because I still remember shortly after the regular season ended last year and about when the 1st round of the playoffs started, I called my brother one night and told him who I wanted the Blazers to draft (and sign Steve Nash to mentor him) and it was the night I learned about Lillard's mentality. He's got the mentality of a Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, etc. And watching the things he has done this season just reassures it.

    I mean he's not afraid of anything and he believes he will succeed and so it's not shocking that he hits shots in the clutch (which surprises me why doesn't Stotts use Lillard more in those situations like the game in Philly for example). Lillard has that "it" factor. And what's great is this is just the beginning and better days are coming with Lillard because he's not satisfied with his game.

    Anyway, the point is, Meyers doesn't have that strong will and confidence that will help him become great from what I'm seeing from him and it's not something that is easily learned, it's more that you're born with it. Either you have it or you don't. The good news is he will get better as he gets more comfortable, but to be an above average player in the NBA where he's a solid contributor, I'm not sold on that yet.

    Then there is our draft pick this June since we're not going to owe Charlotte and I know it's early and I can still browse prospects for fun and read about who would be the best fit for the team, but so far there is nobody I'm high on that I believe will be able to come in and help the team right away. In fact, anybody we get will be a project from what I can see and that also means there is no guarantees.

    And that can handicap us next season because of the cap hold that pick will have. At this point, I really hope we use that pick to make a trade to get a player that can help us next year. Either that, or find another sucker like Brooklyn was last year and make a trade to get a higher pick on a player we don't need for the future anymore. I seriously doubt that will happen, but it would be nice to be able to make another trade like that. And that reminds me of how bitter Brooklyn fans are about this trade now.

    by Shem on 4/11/2013 8:55 PM
  14. you can say this about one stat or that about another, but this loss comes down to one thing and one thing only: horrible officiating. there's really no denying that about last night's game. my friend and i kept a tally of missed/blown/wrong calls; the result was 21 in the Lakers favor, 2 in the Blazers favor.

    there's no doubt in my mind that the league -- it's commissioner in particular -- wants the Lakers in the playoffs at all costs. yes, i know that sounds like a conspiracy theory which some thing is nuts. but, here's the thing: after seeing the officials' performances the past couple games between us & the Lakers, as well as the previous night's game between them and the Hornets, how can someone possibly NOT come to that most obvious of conclusions?

    okies, enough of that -- for now.

    i thought we played hard -- especially the rookies (though, suspiciously, Joel went from possibly starting in place of LaMarcus, to not playing at all; and we certainly could have used Jared out there -- still not sure why Stotts can't see the obvious). Damian had an incredible game and i thought LaMarcus generally played pretty well, especially on the boards. Luke had it going on, but in true Blazers fashion, he got hot and we stopped getting him the ball behind the arc. among the improvements we need to make is to ride the hot hand.

    on Meyers, no one is saying Meyers is ready to jump right into the starting center's role right now and you certainly can't judge him by one performance when he was matched up against the best center in the league. it's all relative and we've seen enough progress over the course of his rookie season that the criticism really should be tempered with some patience.

    i'm not expecting much from the final four games of the season; possibly a win when the Warriors come to town. who knows, maybe they'll be in a position to rest Curry and Lee before they start their playoff series.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 4/11/2013 8:58 PM
  15. I see this team taking this 13 losing streak thru beginning of next season. Were at 11 right now clippers 12 warriors 13 . Goodbye season

    by LA 2012 on 4/15/2013 1:30 PM
  16. I see this team taking this 13 losing streak thru beginning of next season. Were at 11 right now clippers 12 warriors 13 . Goodbye season

    by LA 2012 on 4/15/2013 1:30 PM
  17. Hey Mike,

    It's been a long time. Hope everything is well with you and your family. I see that you don't respond much to the comments, anymore. Between job and family, there probably aren't enough hours in the day for you...haha. So, I'll pose some questions without expecting a response. However, maybe others could weigh in.

    Anyway, I was just wondering what your thoughts on perhaps adding Mayo and Will Bynum to the roster this summer. I think Mayo's around game and outside shooting would compliment Lillard extremely well. It would give Lillard a chance to play some 2 without making it mandatory every possession as it is, now, with a player like maynor.

    Will Bynum is a very underrated player that plays both ends of the court. He has shined in Detroit despite playing on a team that features Knight, Stuckey, and Calderon at the same position.

    His chemistry with Drummond and lobs to him seem like they would translate well with Meyers on the second unit. Wes could start or come off the bench as a defender that can knock down the outside shot.

    Him and Bynum would be pretty nasty as a defensive backcourt. Bynum has given Lillard fits with just man on man coverage, which is really saying something about his defense. Mayo and Lillard would be more of the offensive players that are both playmakers for others, as well. They'd be a pretty wicked combo, as well.

    The only two big acquisitions I see possibly working would be:

    1. Josh Smith - As crazy as it sounds, this could actually work. It would be a gamble, though, but much less of one if we could get him to sign to only a 3 year contract (doubtful). If it worked, the reward could be tremendous. If it didn't, he isn't untradable by any means especially with only 2 years left on his contract. Him and batum could be a scary combo on the defensive end.

    2. Nicola Pekovic - He's a real bruiser for Minnesota, and it's always nice to have a really good center. His pros are pretty obvious. However, he would slow us down even more, which I'm not really keen on. Him and Meyers, though, could provide a more contrasting duo subbing for one another.

    Those are some options I see possibly working.

    LA 2012,

    We might have to say goodbye to this season with the losing streak, but this season was never really about making the playoffs. It was about seeing what he have (early part of the season), development (Lillard, Batum, Meyers, ect..), and securing our pick.

    This likely 13 game losing streak has not only secured our lottery pick (at the 13th slot or higher, we would've had to surrender the pick because of last year's Wallace trade), it has also given us a likely 11th slot pick (Philly will probably pass us with a better record with a win over Detroit, tonight). Not only that, but it will give us a shot at the 10th slot (Toronto has won 5 of its last 6 and will pull even with us with a win in its last two games. Hence, a coin flip).

    It's just another way of looking at it. In my mind, the blazers orchestrated this season perfectly. We didn't allow a culture of losing to set in, while also possibly securing a top 10 pick.

    by mrblazer on 4/15/2013 4:36 PM
  18. The decisions to be made about current players is for the most part obvious. With exception Babbitt. He has shown he understands he is a bench player with a specific role. He may be on the cusp of blossoming. To have a rebounder with his shooting range could prove valuable. In the Stotts system Babbitt could be 10th or 11th in rotation.
    To find the right pieces to add to the team is a much more difficult task. I think we have an idea of what type of skill sets are needed. Finding them for the right price and personality to fit with the stars we have is the hard part.

    by Divotking on 4/15/2013 7:39 PM
  19. Divotking,

    Agreed. Out of all the guys I mentioned, I'm most confident about Will Bynum being a great fit. His game and attitude are on point (literally...haha). It's when you factor in his price, though, where he gets really intriguing. However, I'm not so sure anymore. He's shined so well that I'm unsure of how underrated, thus underpriced, he'll be.

    by mrblazer on 4/16/2013 11:31 AM
  20. @Shem: You're certainly right about the mental part of being an NBA star. There have been several times I wished the Blazers could put one guy's head on another's body to make one great player. It's what's between the ears that can make a good player into a great one.

    Looking forward to the offseason, which will be the most important one in a while, imho. This team has a chance to improve greatly, or to be in the same position next year...
    --
    don

    by dgpdx on 4/16/2013 9:19 PM
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