Preview & Chat: The Portland Trailblazers

Kurt —  January 4, 2009

NBA: OCT 28 Trailblazers at Lakers
Records: Lakers 26-5 (1st in the West) Trailblazers 20-13 (7th in the West)

Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.7 (3rd in league) Trailblazers 113.4 (2nd in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 102.5 (4th in league) Trailblazers 109.5 (23rd in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Trailblazers Rudy Fernandez, Blake, Bantum, Aldridge, Oden

Lakers notes: For fun today, from 82games.com, the win percentages of some common Lakers lineups (basically, how often they outplay the opposing fives on the floor):

Fisher-Bryant-Radmanovic-Gasol-Bynum: 47.1%
Fisher-Bryant-Walton-Gasol-Bynum: 46.1%
Farmar-Vujacic-Ariza-Odom-Bynum: 63.6%
Farmar-Vujacic-Ariza-Odom-Gasol: 52.9%
Fisher-Bryant-Ariza-Odom-Gasol: 70%

Bottom line, the starting fives the Lakers have are basically .500 against the opposing starters, but the key Lakers bench lineups win, and the closing group is very good. This points to a couple other things: How important that Laker depth is during the season and how much it matters who finishes games rather than who starts.

One other quick note: I have read Bynum taking some heat in some Lakers forums for not stepping up, not scoring enough lately. I think Craig W. summed up the Bynum situation well in the comments:

We all want Shaq to arrive this week and Phil wants Bynum to concentrate on defense and let his offense develop gradually. He already signed his contract so he should now do as the coach wants; not as the fans want. The all-star nomination may not arrive when he wants it, but the trophy might just be a good substitute.

The Trailblazers Coming In: Bad news for both the Blazers and all of us fans of good basketball — Brandon Roy is out tonight with a hamstring injury.

But it should be interesting because now Rudy Fernandez gets the start. And, according to Blazer homer Henry Abbott on TrueHoop, this will mean more minutes for Jerryd Bayless, the rookie out of Arizona, which Henry says is a good thing (despite the fact Bayless is shooting 27.4% eFG% and has a PER of 2.3 so far this season).

He said a big question for the Blazers tonight is which LaMarcus Aldridge shows up. For all of you that think Odom can be a mercurial player, he is loved in the locker room. Check out what Ric Bucher wrote about Aldridge in ESPN the Magazine:

BEING A Texan, Aldridge has a particular love of red meat. So it was especially wounding when he thought that Roy had left him out of a trip to a Brazilian barbecue joint in Memphis early last season. So that’s how it is, he thought, and steered clear of Roy everywhere but on the court. It wasn’t until the summer that Travis Outlaw convinced Aldridge that he had simply forgotten to tell him about the dinner. The issue is a memory now, but that kind of response to a perceived slight is what the Blazers work every day to avoid. They can’t afford not to…

Aldridge is shooting 50% from the floor and scoring nearly 20 points a game the last month. The key to stopping him, by the way, is to not let him get hot from the midrange. Easier said than done, if he is on it is very difficult to stop. I personally believe less in streaky shooting than most, but because of the confidence issue with Aldridge, you need to not let him get rolling.

One other thing, you should go read the preview (and basically everything) at Blazers Edge, which is one of my three favorite NBA blogs (even though I have no love for the Blazers).

Previous Meeting: In the first game of the season, the Lakers new aggressive defense overwhelmed the Blazers from the start, and the Lakers looked dominant and they cruised to a 96-76 win. It will be interesting to see how Fernandez and Bayless deal with the defense, now that it is the second time around.

Keys To The Game: Things are pretty straight forward against the Trailblazers — they can score in bunches but do not defend all that well. The Lakers will get their points in this one, how easy the win is depends on how focused they are on defense.

That has to start on the defensive glass — the Trailblazers are the best offensive rebounding team in the league, grabbing 32.9% of their misses. They grab one third of their missed shots, which is a crazy good number. The Lakers are a pretty pedestrian defensive rebounding team, but Bynum and Gasol need to come focused tonight (same with Odom and really the whole team).

Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom have to be focused on defense on Aldridge, he is the one guy who can carry the Blazers if he gets hot. The Lakers have to keep him in check.

Along those same lines, Bynum has to outplay Greg Oden, he tends to get up for the other big centers in the league and he needs to tonight. Also, the Lakers cannot sleep on Joel Przybilla and Travis Outlaw. Particularly Outlaw — in crunch time they will go to him in isolation.

Where you can watch: Fox Sports in LA with a 6:30 tip off. Nationally, League Pass and thee other usual suspects.

Kurt

Posts

165 responses to Preview & Chat: The Portland Trailblazers

  1. http://www.blazersedge.com/2009/1/3/708584/game-34-preview-blazers-vs#comments

    That has to be one of the most pessimistic game previews I’ve read in a while. They’re more convinced the Lakers are going to win than we are.

  2. Kurt, in the preview I’m seeing the only Blazers starter you have listed is Rudy Fernandez … I’m hoping this is not just at typo, as I’d very much like to see the Lakers starters play 5-on-1 against him.

  3. the other Stephen January 4, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    if andrew bynum’s not living up to high expectations, what’s greg oden doing? staying at home, knitting mittens, and avoiding the all-under achievement parade? can anyone who’s been watching oden tell me what his problem is other than foul trouble?

  4. Kurt, if Blazers are going to start only Fernandez, then the pessimism of blazersedge.com is understandable.

    In other news: Ilgauskas is out for 3-4 weeks, which means Cavs aren’t .800 team anymore, which means Celtics probably will have HCA in the East playoffs.

  5. Oden seems kind of self-absorbed. Recently against Phoenix(TNT game), for example, I remember that he was called for a foul and sent to the bench. While he’s on the bench, the Blazers mount a rally, and every guy on the Blazer bench is standing up and cheering their team on…except for Oden. Oden’s sitting on the bench, chin resting on his hand, staring into space.

    It doesn’t seem like he’s able to build on his good games. He lets a poor peformance carry over to next. He’ll follow up one brilliant performance with two stinkers. Very inconsistent. And I think it’s mental.

    It’s pitiable. I wonder if Bynum is in the same situation.

  6. Oden’s attitude certainly could perk up a bit, but the guy hasn’t played consistently for over a year. I would be pretty downcast too if I was picked first, had to sit out my first season with an injury, and then was injured in my first game back the following season. That and he’s still a rookie. He’s still developing an offensive game and gaining experience, so he’ll get better as time goes on.

  7. starters fixed, I blame decaf

  8. I think Oden’s lost some of that child like joy that he had when he got drafted. A little over a year ago he was the #1 overall pick and people were just in love with his personality (like they are with Shaq) and he was having a ton of fun (ESPY’s, commercials, etc). However, after the injury and subsequent surgery, he’s come back more with an attitude of “this is a business” and “there are a lot of expectations that I am trying to fulfill”, and I think he’s just in a funk and not the same guy. I think he needs to find that joy that he had again and when he does he’ll be the player that everyone thinks he can be (like a young Alonzo and Dikembe hybrid, with enough offense and more than enough defense and rebounding to push a team into title contention)…it’s just going to take some time. Also, we must realize that he’s only in his first season back recovering from microfracture surgery and then injured his foot in the first game this season, so I’m almost positive he’s not where he could be physically. Sorry for the long Oden apologist post, but I just think it’s a little early to make determinations on his career or outlook as a teammate when he has yet to even play a half a season.

  9. We fans tend to believe our own pronouncements and those of the ‘talking heads’ who like to make pronouncements. Listen to the basketball people who talked about Oden when he was drafted and they all said he wasn’t much of an offensive player. Now we are asking questions about why he doesn’t score more??? One of the aspects of intelligence is memory. I think we might try that tack when commenting about very young players.

  10. Someone who has watched a lot of Oden this season and in college break down his game vs. Bynum’s. I haven’t seen a great deal of Oden (maybe half a dozen games), but my general impression is that he is more explosive physically (quicker feet, quicker leaper, better vertical, faster), and much more raw offensively (basically just a dunker, with a poor, flat jump right jump hook). Drew has more refined offensive skills (passing, low post moves, touch), better timing, a little more length, but is significantly slower/less explosive. Who can correct or flesh that out?

    Remember when comparing the two that Drew is only three months older, didn’t get to play heavy minutes in college for a year, and also missed most of a year. In fact, Bynum probably got about the same real playing time his first three years in the league that Oden got at Ohio State. So while we should give Oden the benefit of injury rust, I don’t think he deserves the benefit of being younger and less experienced.

    Who is likely to be the better player in 5 years?

  11. Wth Orlando and the Cavs losing, it wuld be nice for the Lakers to win and gain some ground for best record in the league.

  12. Need to watch for Pryzbilla. He’s first in the league in rebound rate and fg% (although he doesn’t shoot often). An extremely productive, frustrating opponent in his limited time. To my eyes, he’s been much better than Oden.

    Bynum vs. Oden this year:

    *Bynum: 20.3 PER, 12.8 PER allowed, +7.4 PER differential, +9.5 net point differential/48 minutes, .537 eFG, 16.0 rebound rate.

    *Oden: 18.0 PER, 17.5 PER allowed, +0.5 PER differential, +2.4 net points differential/48, .531 eFG, 20.2 rebound rate.

  13. It’d be interesting to get a Blazer fan’s take on Oden.

    The few times I’ve seen him, he definitely has let the mental side of the game effect his play. I think the foul trouble cuold stem directly from the fact that he’s not at 100 percent yet.

    Another more obvious but still relevant reason he isn’t wowing the league: the Blazers are a strong, deep team and don’t need to rely on a rookie the way the Bulls or Grizz need to with Rose and Mayo…No need to force him to shoulder a large part of the load if he’s not ready.

  14. @matt m

    I tend to agree with your observations. My take on Oden is that he’s just adjusting to the NBA. He only played one year in college, took a year off (involuntarily, of course), and now is playing against the toughest competition in the world. It’s going to take time for him to learn the NBA game and make the necessary adjustments to stay on the floor. Physically, coming off the microfracture surgery, he likely won’t be 100% until next season, so perhaps some of the foul trouble will persist throughout the remainder of this season.

    The Blazers coaching staff is trying to develop Oden’s defensive game more than his offense because the Blazers already have several players more than capable of scoring. As such, I, for one (sometimes I feel like the only one), am pleased with Oden’s progress, although it is frustrating (as it is to him) to see him get into foul trouble so often. Once he adjusts to this, the game will come to him and he’ll have more fun (for example, the Boston game last week). When he stays out on the floor for awhile he relaxes, his confidence increases and he is visibly joyful. There will be more of this in the future as he learns how not to foul.

    He may not be wowing the league to the expectations of the majority, but he is leading all rookies in double-doubles and is top-three in rebounds and blocks, so he is doing the job the Blazers expected of him even though he isn’t getting as much PT as he would without the foul trouble.

  15. Wow, Darius Miles is playing in the Grizzlies-Mavs game. That will not sit well with Blazer fans.

  16. Miles played all of two minutes.
    It’s like Memphis was playing him just to take away Portland’s cap space.

  17. I’m just rooting for NY now that Cleveland lost to the Wizards.

    Woo-hoo.

  18. Celtics are making Wilson Chandler and Al Harrington look like Allstars.

  19. lets go knicks. Cleveland lost and now Boston might lose. If Boston loses and The Lakers win they will be the only 5 loss team n the league.

  20. Knicks are kicking Celtics a**. I’ve told you Celtics are weak against running teams.

  21. The Knicks game isn’t over. Also, I think it is a little early to celebrate our ‘league leading’ number of losses. We do have a game we have to win tonight – if I am not mistaken.

  22. Celtics and Cavs both lost… let’s hope this is not the day of major upsets, Orlando and Mavs lost as well

  23. We have a game to play yes, but now we have extra motivation to win this one without being too tense about it.

    Besides, I don’t mind losing to the blazers if it means Celtics losing to… the Knicks!

    Is it the coach?

  24. All the teams expected to win today lost.

    This could be a trap game and we must be prepared to compete for the entire game.

  25. I agree with the statement above that the Celts are weak against running teams. Knicks are a fast paced team that goes into their offense quickly, thats exactly what a team needs to do to beat the Celtics…Golden State is the same kind of team and they beat the Celts to, lets not get cocky though, we know the blazers are gonna be motivated to play well without Roy.

  26. Kurt,
    I don’t think I have seen any criticism of Bynum for not scoring more. There has been criticism of his rebounding, defense, and effort level, and sometimes of his shot selection, but I don’t remember any criticism of him for not scoring more.

  27. That’s it. D’Antoni is a wizard. It’s amazing that he’s producing wins with the Knicks’ roster, which is on pace to win ~30 games with a load of players collected by Isiah Thomas. Can we even begin to imagine how Chicago would look with him at the helm? We would be calling Rose the next Magic.

  28. It was a great night for upsets in the NBA, that’s true, but it was also a great night for home teams (like us) … only the Clips, of course, couldn’t quite eke out a win against the Pistons in the early game at Staples.

    I’m obviously delighted to see the Cavs and Celtics (and to a lesser degree, the Magic) lose, but I won’t quite go as far as our friend Harold (#23)!

    Like Craig W. says, this is a great opportunity for the Lakers if they stay focused and TCB.

  29. 27) “D’Antoni is a wizard.”

    He is an excellent coach. The problem is that his style of play doesn’t translate well to the playoffs.

  30. Lebron saw fit to lie bald-faced about the travel call that went against him… even with video evidence. Something tells me that at some point we will see that man run for high office.

  31. It’s true, the Celts struggle with up-tempo teams (Atlanta, GS, NY), which is why I was frustrated that we didn’t run more during the Finals (although because of our rebounding, often times we couldn’t). Now that our rebounding has been shored up, hopefully if we meet the Celts again we’ll run much more. I was just watching last year’s WCF again, and I was struck by how often we ran against the Spurs, not letting them set up their half-court offense. Most of our runs were done through the transition game.

  32. Would like to see the Lakers continue their recent strong play tonight.

    Looking forward to seeing 2 Laker wins tonight actually – FSW is airing Game 7 of the 2000 series vs. Portland after the game tonight. I was at that game and it’s still the most exciting game I’ve ever seen in person. Had that 4th quarter gone differently it would have changed the whole decade.

    In fact, that game is required viewing for anyone who thinks Kobe rode Shaq’s coattails to 3 titles. Kobe led the team that day in minutes (47), points (28), rebounds (11), assists (7), and blocks (4), and sealed the game on back to back late possessions, drilling a jumper over a frozen Pippen and then abusing Pippen on a crossover and throwing the famous lob to Shaq.

  33. Ariza is starting tonight. I like it.

  34. What happened to Luuuuuuuke?

  35. Sam Mitchell is a great addition to NBATV.

  36. Ariza starts, Luke won’t play

  37. Ariza is taking his rightful place at SF. Not turning back now.

  38. trevor starting?! :O!!

  39. Luke has an injury, so Ariza is starting.

  40. Fisher is doubling Oden why exactly?

  41. why do i have a sinking feeling that upset night will continue with this game? c’mon lakers, prove me wrong! with celts, cavs, and magic losing tonight… makes me worry.

  42. feed is lagging, but so is our game…

    way choppy tonight.

    and Fisher PUJIT.

  43. Wow Fisher with the PUJIT

  44. the lakers, uh… do not look sharp (understatement of the decade alert)

  45. they cannot afford to bring their C game… the blazers always play them tough. plus not having Roy might actually make them play looser and with nothing to lose… which is what it looks like at the moment.

  46. Classic Ewing Effect. No Roy so the other Blazers are stepping up while the Lakers thought this should be a cakewalk and came out unfocused.

    When Kobe is giving up the sloppy turnover you know it is a bad start.

  47. And, Aldridge is hitting his midrange shots and feeling confident to start. Don’t like that at all.

  48. WHY FISH? stop doubling oden!!!!! he hasn’t done anything to deserve a double…

  49. Oden’s jump hook is a very, very ugly thing.

  50. on pace for about 48 turnovers…

  51. oh my god… what’s up with fisher tonight?

  52. The Dude Abides January 4, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    I can’t say I agree with the decision to start Trevor tonight. I think he should be more of a 28-30 minute bench guy, because of his durability issues and because his style is more suited to the 2nd unit’s running game. Frankly, I’m surprised Vlad didn’t start tonight. Chalk this one up to Phil’s experimentation.

    Everyone except Kobe looks out of sync on the offensive end tonight, and I have no idea why Fish double-teamed Oden twice in a row in the post.

  53. How many TOs is that now? 23?

  54. that second foul on fish might be a blessing in disguise.

  55. ariza not doing so well as a starter :/

  56. The Dude Abides January 4, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    I should qualify the above by saying that even Kobe looked pretty confused on that one giveaway possession.

  57. Oden hasn’t shown anything so far in his playing time to indicate that he’s worthy of a double team. Fisher doubling him has left the corner three open at least three times now. We need to settle down on the offensive end too. Nine turnovers at this point is ridiculous.

  58. think it would be better if rad or odom had started tonight instead of ariza, ariza seems more suited as a off the bench type of guy

  59. Fish porbably just wants to startle Oden… More about Oden being likely to turn it over than him being a threat.

    Let’s get things fired up a bit. 13 points in a quarter… urgh.

  60. The Dude Abides January 4, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Stu seems to be disagreeing with the decision to start Ariza. BTW, I think we need to continue the effort to promote “Cobra” as Trevor’s nickname.

  61. i guess not so bad… lakers still within range despite one of the worst 1st periods of the year.

  62. I think its good for the Lakers, worst quarter I seen them play all year and their only down 6.

  63. The Lakers may still win this game, but their all their players looked like s**t starting out. Why do players need to use fancy passes when just plain passes will do?

  64. Our offense is so bad we have only 1 assist in the first quarter!

    I think defensively we have been relatively OK. Down the stretch, we really swarmed them and did not let them score (except for RadMan’s ridiculous foul)

    Kobe is getting hot and other guys will have to get involved soon. Pau has been too much of the attention so far. Bynum has not even taken a shot yet

  65. Joel is trying to revive the pile-on… the Next Russell and Chamberlain!!1

  66. It’s easy to sum up the first: Lakers turned the ball over on one-third of their possessions and Portland rtbounded 30% of their misses. Both things are correctable.

  67. bogus double tech call!

  68. It’s clearly not RadMan’s day. I say bring Powell in and play LO at the 3, when Ariza is out

  69. Lakers shooting 66.7% (efg%), Blazers 45%. Keep that up and we win going away. If the turnovers stop.

  70. its also not fisher’s day…

  71. can someone get a message from stu lantz to the lakers coaching staff to stop freakin double teaming oden!

  72. While I agree with letting Ariza test the starting waters, I think this game shows that he does not fit in the starting lineup. He doesn’t space the floor (like VladRad), and he doesn’t distribute the ball (like Luke). With Ariza in, the Blazers packed the lane, which lead to a ton of turnovers due to bad drives and poor decisions. Plus, VladRad was TERRIBLE off the bench. All I saw was 3 fouls and a bunch of bad plays.

    I also think that Fisher should never drive into the lane, like ever. I have yet to see him make a single good decision in the paint in the past month, and he’s probably the worst fast-break runner I’ve ever seen.

  73. Blazers are picking up way too many fouls. Przybilla (3), Oden (2), Outlaw (2) and Bayless (2)

    we did not foul as much and have only Fish (2), Bynum (2) and RadMan (3) in a relative foul trouble danger

  74. u know its a bad day when even kobe can’t run a fast break properly…

  75. Seems a little premature to reject Ariza as the starter based on a few minutes when everyone was out of sync. He’s shown all season that he plays well with any unit. And remember, without Farmar the bench mob plays at a significantly slower pace.

  76. Steve Blake missing wide open shots against us? Must be our night.

  77. K, so the Ariza experiment didn’t work out so well. We needed to see it, and now was the best time to experiment. Now all I want to see is Odom guarding Pierce, that’s the only experiment I want to try out. Until then, bring Vlade back into the starting unit.

  78. The Dude Abides January 4, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Well, we totally caught a break on that alley-oop to the Cobra. That was a phantom foul. The one thing we’re doing well tonight overall is contesting Portland jump shots in their set offense, despite our bonehead double-teaming of Oden in the post.

  79. I don’t think you can determine whether or not Ariza fits in with the starters based on one game. Let alone one half.

    The Lakers had 10 first half turnovers that destroyed the flow of the offense. Ariza had 0 of those.

  80. Jackinthebox has a teriyaki bowl? Wow, how things changed since I left the States…

    Anyway, let’s get this one…

  81. Sasha seems to be playing so much better without Farmar. As great a boost as Farmar can be, you almost wonder if the positive effect more PT has on Sasha is a bigger boost, long-term. Of course against certain teams (SA), Farmar is key, but against teams like Utah and Boston, I’d like to see Sasha play the backup PG.

  82. The Dude Abides January 4, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    77-Reed, I think Ariza meshes well with the starters at the end of games because everyone, including Trevor, is already in their rhythm. However, my biggest objection to his starting is his lack of durability. I’d much prefer him to be a 28-30 minute guy who finishes games because of his strong defense.

  83. i think they should have started radmanovic at least… that way they can see if he can at least make a few 3s… and if he doesn’t… well they can always sub him out.

  84. Rain of Gold, one of my favorite books. My second favorite, would be the Reign of Forum Blue and Gold, to be finished this season.

  85. The Dude Abides January 4, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    I forgot to add that they stated on the pregame show that Phil started Trevor over Trevor’s objections. He wanted to come off the bench again. I think he has more confidence in his outside shot after he’s gone to the hole or already shot a few FTs (he shot an air ball on a wide-open three in the 1st Quarter) and the opposition will just pack the lane against the Lakers in the 1st Q when he gets the ball 20 ft from the basket.

  86. Sort of remarkable to have the lead entering the half despite allowing Portland 18 additional field goal attempts … good thing the Lakers are shooting the heck out of the ball and getting to the line like this was the bathroom of Studio 54 in the ’70s.

    Bonus: I also heard Joel refer to Trevor as “The Cobra,” so maybe this nickname is going to stick.

  87. Come on guys, Ariza deserved to start tonight. He has been the best and most consistent small forward for us so far.

    It is is easy to jump on somebody and we, as Lakers fans, sometimes are more focused on errors than success.

    I have full faith in PJax to determine if Ariza should start or not. But bashing him so early and without a reason really is just not FAN-tastic

  88. I don’t really mind if Ariza starts or not so long as he gets most of the minutes and finishes. But why pass judgment after one bad quarter – especially when he didn’t contribute to the underlying problem (turnovers).

    I understand the argument for sticking Ariza with the second unit where the focus is on speed, energy, and chaos. However, I can also understand starting him to naturally increase his minutes, put our best lineup on the floor to start games, and begin the game with an emphasis on defense.

    The team is lucky that there really is no wrong answer. Let’s just watch to see how him starting affects the dynamics after a few games, and not minutes.

  89. they aren’t taking advantage of bynum when he’s open!!!

  90. i just think radmanovic plays better as a starter so why not start him and make the most of whatever we get out of him and then have ariza finish out quarters.

  91. pujit

  92. That floater like thingie by Kobe looks too easy and too effortless…

  93. PUJIT!!!

  94. Kobe’s J has been money the last several games…

  95. I love the fact that Bynum is really focused on defense and rebounding. He is not giving anything easy to Oden

  96. Who else senses that Alridge is going to make a lot of important shots against us in the next 10 years? He’s kind of like young Sheed, but without the insanity. Extremely long, unstoppable, diverse offensive game, etc. Chicago must hate watching games like this and realizing they could have had both Aldridge and Gasol, only to be stuck with much lesser players they refused to give up or traded for (Thomas, Deng, etc.).

  97. 82. Wait for the “We Want Teriyaki Bowls!” chant from the fans later.

  98. nice shot. D has really stepped up in the 3rd!

  99. This starting unit looks awful with Ariza in there. I hate the defense, length, and talent…

  100. Just kinda realized that we have a pretty good team, especially when our guys work on the defensive end.

  101. new york beat Boston? Wha???

    Odom (co)leads the lakers in +/- again.

  102. fish is starting to now look like the fish we all love and know

  103. The Dude Abides January 4, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Agree 100%, he is just like a young, sane Sheed with that same high release on his shot. I’m wondering when the Blazer guards are going to start knocking down their wide-open jumpers.

  104. Blazers have scored only 7 points in the first 8 minutes of 3rd quarter so far! That’s defense!

  105. Oh my this must be just as frustrating for the Blazers as it was for us when we kept turning the ball over.

  106. Kobe’s FG% must be very good these last 5-6 games. He’s been very efficient lately. Keep my MVP efficient. Deadly.

    Lakers imposing their will now.

  107. the announcers gotta give them some kudos, some funny commentary

  108. Machineeeeeeeee!

  109. 4 pt play, way to go Sasha…

  110. Just though about why.

    “It’s gotta be the shoes.”

  111. And Sergio Rodriguez wonders why he doesn’t play a lot?

  112. If Kobe gets all-defensive team this year, it will be a travesty. Yes, he can be a good defender when he puts his mind to it. But I see at least two plays a game in which he doesn’t play defense AT ALL. Watch very closely who Kobe is covering on some plays, and you’ll see he is completely unconvered. Just now, Fernandez ran out to the three point line, Kobe refused to follow, then just pointed at Fernandez and yelled at Lamar for not running out on him. It seems like there are so many plays that the 4 other Lakers play perfect defense, while Kobe just lets his man go and we give up a layup and chalk it up to a breakdown in the zone.

  113. Radmanovic! Kobe’s guns are shooting hot tonight, Fish, Sasha and Radman have combined for 6 of 7 from beyond the arc

  114. glad to see radman knock one down!

  115. Vlad gets to have fun too!

    So, let’s have a bet as to how close the Blazers are going to make this in the 4th.

    1. Double digit all the way.
    2. Lead whittles to 5 or so before pulling through.
    3. Losing lead, but pulling through.
    4. Loss

    We could go 1, except I’ve seen Portland miss too many gimmes, so maybe 2?

  116. i agree with zephid… plus kobe tends to leak out after the player he’s guarding takes a shot and frequently if kobe had stayed, he would have gotten the rebound. plus he gambles too much. still… he’s kobe.

  117. i say the blazers whittle the lead down to 5 but the lakers pull it out… i know, i’m a pessimist.

  118. What is the record for longest single possession in the nba (counting offensive rebounds)? I think the Blazers may have just set that record.

  119. that was pathetic. lakers need to get them rebounds. that was like a 5 possession play for the blazers.

  120. #120 and #121 – Maybe the Lakers were trying to milk the clock?

  121. The Dude Abides January 4, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Michelle Wie? Give me a break. I can’t believe they’re doing this.

  122. For those of you who say that Kobe plays no defense, watch the 4th quarter games of the Lakers and see what he does during the crunch time on the defensive end.

    I agree that he needs to play strong D throughout a game, but I think it is part of the Laker’s strategy and not Kobe’s decision to be a roamer

  123. Michelle Wie more interesting than the game?

    Anyway, are we holding portland to 69, or are they simply not capable of scoring?

    Oh, Sasha, no that doesn’t count.

  124. Odom for the 3 point competition? Start the petition!

  125. I was always such a huge fan of the courtside interviews that I’m absolutely double SUPER thrilled that they moved the segment to clutch minutes in the 4th quarter.

  126. The Dude Abides January 4, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Lamar should have run back down the court after that layup staring at his right hand.

  127. i don’t think he said that kobe plays no defense… its just that his choices often leave the rest of the lakers scrambling and we all know the lakers are probably the worst team in the league when it comes to scramble defense, which leads to open looks and easy layups for their opponents.

  128. 3 more minutes and we will see Sun and Josh!

  129. Harold- have you caught any Cal bball games? They’re fun to watch this year. Jerome Randle is for real.

  130. An interesting note – Aldridge and Rasheed is a much closer comparison than you’d think, even including the personality oddities. Aldridge may not have the temper issue, but both Wallace and Aldridge face mental hurdles to being dominating forces (as detailed in the ESPN mag piece). Their defense and overall inconsistency (early in both careers) is remarkably similar.

  131. why is phil bringing in kobe AND pau?

  132. j.d., wish I could, it’s hard enough as it is getting feeds of NBA games here in Korea while i work (GMT+9).

    Cal games are so rarely televised that it’s near impossible to catch any of them here :(

    Just glad i was in school for the one season they did well under Braun. Think that was the season after Shareef bolted…

  133. 127. You wouldn’t deny what’s-his-face that excuse to talk to cute ladies and celebrities would you? I think your desire to watch the game is a secondary concern.

  134. wot was the crowd chanting?

  135. mihm sighting!

  136. “The game’s in the refrigerator. The door’s closed, the light’s out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard, and the Jell-O’s jiggling.”

  137. Space Cadet is having a great game tonight.

    Here comes the SUN!!!!

  138. Where’s SUN is he on the IR for the night?

  139. Never mind didn’t see that he was in.

  140. Wow Sun, way to go !

  141. lakers will have the best record in the league with the fewest losses after boston and the cavs fell today. now all i need is for sun to score.

  142. wish ariza didn’t take that last 3… let mihm or sun have a shot eh?

  143. Only 13 TOs for the game? I thought we had like 10 in the first quarter alone…

  144. One thing is for sure, Sun refuses to give up layups. He pummeled Bayless on the drive.

    Overall, good game. Can’t complain too much, especially after coming back despite having our heads loose in the 1st quarter. Their extremely poor shooting helped a lot, though.

  145. The Blazers almost became the 3rd team we have played against to get SUNNED!

  146. It’s impossible to predict playoff teams at this point in the season, but just for fun, I’m going to say that people counting out the Spurs are crazy. My guess is that either Dallas or Portland will be the odd team out. In the East, there’s no telling right now.

  147. thats too bad, they’rw worth checking out. But I live 2 blocks from campus and have to own digital cable to see the games on tv. They have a very athletic backcourt that can take over a game at any time. And they can shoot the 3 like nobody’s business. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do against UCLA.

    Lakers are #1 in the land! Now they just have to maintain. Against a series of difficult opponents. Should be interesting.

  148. That last comment was directed to Harold, btw

  149. besides most of the first half which i missed, it was good to see vlad have a good game in the 2nd half, lamar being more consistent with his effort and throwing off his defenders by going right when they expect him to go left, sasha getting his game and shot back with more minutes, and the continued brilliant hustle of ariza. never mind that kobe guy and that tall spaniard. i’m liking what i see and enjoying the games more.

  150. Just like Kurt mentioned, it was only a matter of time before we took control of this game. The turnovers and loose play were not going to continue for 48 minutes and the Blazers, minus Roy, don’t have enough on offense to deal with our fire power. I’m continued to be impressed by Pau, but it was Bynum’s activity on defense that I liked tonight. He was really moving his feet on penetrating guards and it made a difference in detering shots at the rim tonight.

    If there was one thing that could have been better, it was cleaning up our defensive glass, but when a team shoots as poorly as Portland did, there are going to be misses that you don’t track down. Overall, we’re now on roll and you can’t be happier as a fan than when you know you have a pretty damned good team and they’re playing well.

  151. From looking at the scoreboard for today, if the Clippers didn’t get that goaltending at the end of their game to give the Pistons their win, we would be the only top team (that is expected to win playing today) that actually came out on top. the magic and mavs both went down to lower teams also. good thing the lakers didn’t contribute to the trend tonight. otherwise we could call it the day of the revenge of the underdogs.

  152. Interesting tidbit in the game recap: the Lakers haven’t allowed more than 23 points by an opposing player in seven straight games.

  153. the other Stephen January 4, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    9. okay…i don’t know if you were talking to me, but if you were, then your sarcasm is very much misplaced. personally, i like the idea of giving oden time and space, and not saddling his shoulders with hyped-up expectations. i don’t know that much about what the ‘talking heads’ said. have fun with that.

  154. pau gasol is a freakin monster right now. i loved that dunk on oden. that’s passion right there. his jumper is looking mighty good as well. just seems like everytime gasol and kobe come into the game together, you get a feeling that everythings going to be okay..

  155. Darius,
    “I’m continued to be impressed by Pau, but it was Bynum’s activity on defense that I liked tonight. He was really moving his feet on penetrating guards and it made a difference in detering shots at the rim tonight”

    Definitely. last night’s game is what the team needs from him this season.

  156. Anyone reading about LBJ’s “crab” dribble?

    This whole jump stop thing is a travel in the first place, and now player’s want to add to it, and think it’s not a travel, because the jump stop isn’t called. I’m glad he was called, because he gets away with it too much. He has too much of a physical and athletic advantage to be allowed to bend rules as well.

    He took a step, then the hop step, then two more. Even if you count the step before as a “hestitation” dribble, that’s still three steps. Traveling no matter what.

    Give him and inch, and he’ll take a mile. This is why the jump stop is bogus. Too many people travel while doing it (some don’t), and it just becomes accepted.

  157. Lakers are playing well right now but is anybody else more scared of the Golden State game on Wednesday than the Hornets game on Tuesday?

  158. Great game! However, I’m starting to gecome very concerend about playing Fish so many minutes. I’m really worried about burning him out before the playoffs. I hope Sasha keeps producing so that he can take some minutes off Fish.

  159. #158

    It was certainly a travel, but I can understand LeBron’s consternation. He and the other league’s top stars (even some of the not top stars) get away with traveling. It must be frustrating to “travel” most games and not get it called, and then have it called in a pivotal moment in a game.

    I say the refs should call it but be conistent with the call with every player in every circumstance.

    Whether that will happen is another question altogether.

  160. before we pile on lebron for taking full advantage of the travel rules, let’s not forget kobe is the master of this as well – pretty sure he took an extra step on that running righty hook in traffic last night.

  161. emh101,

    You have a point, but better late than never. LBJ’s “crab” stop is kind of like KG’s shake/turn around fade away used to be. He traveled all the time, and ever got called.

  162. wiseolegoat,

    I would have to disagree with you. If Kobe travels, more than likely it was a mistake, and not “trademark” (LBJ actually said that). Kobe’s footwork is the best in the game, maybe ever.

  163. New post up where we talk LeBron and crabs with melted butter, Luke Walton and whatever else comes to mind.