Trail Blazers vs Lakers Wednesday, 04/10/13 AT 07:00PM

Lakers Outlast Trail Blazers In Epic Shootout

04/11/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    The Los Angeles Lakers (42-37) were able to outlast the Portland Trail Blazers (33-45) in a classic Old West shootout by the score of 113-106. The two cowboys in the affair were certainly Kobe Bryant and Damian Lillard. Bryant finished the night with 47 points and Lillard finished with a new career-high of 38 points to go along with nine assists in the loss. Lillard joined Bryant, LeBron James and James Harden as the only players in the league with 38 points and nine assists in a game this season.

    Some were not sure which Trail Blazers team would show. But, those knowing how much playing the Lakers means to Rip City and the what it meant to the four rookies on the floor, playing against their idols, also knew better.

    Walking into the Rose Garden, even a few hours before, it just simply hit you.

    This is Lakers-Trail Blazers and despite the fact that the Trail Blazers lost, it was a classic nonetheless, with respect shown to each other after it was over.

    "He's fantastic. Really fantastic. It wasn't a game where he was just hot. A lot of players get hot," Kobe Bryant said of The Rookie with whom he battled all night. "I told him he was a bad boy (after the game). He was out there cooking with gasoline tonight."

    That he was, and some "Vino," was uncorked as well on a night of fine cuisine in the Rose City.

    "However old he is, getting 47, that's impressive. He played the whole game and he just imposed his will on us tonight," said LaMarcus Aldridge who finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds despite dealing with a migraine headache.

    Both players went off for 17 points in the first quarter with Lillard dropping seven dimes to go with it. The Trail Blazers young starting line-up didn't shy away from the challenge, jumping out to their best offensive quarter of the season, and grabbing a 41-33 lead. The pace and energy were both high in the building. Both teams had red-hot first halves with the Trail Blazers shooting 60 percent from the field and the Lakers shooting 57 percent.

    The two continued their duel, with Lillard taking some time to rest while Kobe Bryant, knowing his team can control their own destiny, went the distance and continued getting to the line (18-for-18 at the line). Portland kept their energy and solid play up with solid contributions from Luke Babbitt (12 points, four of five from deep), Sasha Pavlovic (eight points) and Eric Maynor (nine points, four assists)

    The Trail Blazers held an eight-point lead with Bryant at 28 points and Lillard with 25 points and seven assists.

    "You have to give Portland credit. They made everything. Lillard…unbelievable. The game that he played was terrific," said Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni. "That's about as good a rookie as I've ever seen. he looks like he's played 10 years in the league, and at the highest level."

    Lillard had been great, but according to D'Antoni and Bryant, the Lakers couldn't wait for him to cool off.

    "It wasn't a game where he was just hot. A lot of players get hot," said Bryant.

    "The players and Kobe, they wanted to trap. Get into something because we were a little lethargic," said D'Antoni

    The Lakers were much more aggressive in the second half in defending him but Lillard still got loose, although not as much as he did in the first half. The Lakers stepped up on defense and started the second half on a 10-0 run, but the Trail Blazers didn't quit and actually had a lead with Babbitt helping with timely shooting.

    However, as Kobe kept his night going, Pau Gasol (23 points, nine assists, seven rebounds) and Dwight Howard (20 points, 10 rebounds) continued to find their rhythm.

    As the game wore-on, the Trail Blazers continued to fight but struggled in making shots. They shot 28.6 percent in the second half and only scored 16 points in the fourth quarter. But, again, there they were. However, three plays killed the Trail Blazers chances of coming back on the Lakers, who had taken the lead late in the game: a clear-path foul on Damian Lillard with 4:30 left that led to four points for Bryant when the Trail Blazers were only down two and two offensive rebounds by Steve Blake in the last two minutes.

    The Trail Blazers got the Rose Garden into it with their effort and the youthful play. Lillard was unbelievable in a career night, going step for step with one of his childhood idols. Even LaMarcus Aldridge had an appreciation for how special their duel was.

    "It was Damian versus Kobe. Both of those guys had it going. That was fun to watch. It was fun to be out there."

    Bryant's 47 points were a Rose Garden record for an opposing player and the most since Larry Bird in 1986. His stat line of 47 points, eight rebounds, five assists, four blocks and three steals was the first of it's kind in NBA history according to Elias Sports Bureau.

    The Trail Blazers lost their ninth straight game and were unable to break their losing streak, albeit in valiant fashion. For Will Barton in his first start, there was no moral victory in having taken the Lakers to the limit. Stotts, of course, commended the effort of his team.

    "It was  very good effort by our team, but unfortunately we couldn't pull it out. I was very pleased with our effort from beginning to end. A couple of plays down the stretch could have gone either way, a couple of shots could of gone either way. For the most part, I thought it was a well-played game against a team that's pretty hungry to make the playoffs."

    The Trail Blazers face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday. The Trail Blazers may not be able to knock them out, but they could hurt their quest of trying to get the number one seed in the Western Conference. Tip-off is set for 7:30 and will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.


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