Preview & Chat: The Portland Trailblazers

Kurt —  March 8, 2009

Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers
Records: Lakers 50-12 (1st in the West) Trailblazers 39-23 (7th in the West)
Offensive ratings: 114.0 (1st in league) Trailblazers 113.3 (2nd in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.3 (6th in league) Trailblazers 109.0 (18th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Trailblazers Brandon Roy, Steve Blake, Nicolas Batum, Lamarcus Aldridge, Joel Przybilla

Real Women Don’t Wear Green: You asked for it and the shirt is here.

Lakers notes: So do the people here who thought Lamar Odom had turned the corner a few months back still feel that way? He’s had three games that have been down a little. I’ll go back to what I’ve always said about him — you need to accept Odom as Odom, the moments of brilliance and the moments he disappears. It’s all a function of just who he is. He is going to forever be inconsistent. He is going to be up and down in the regular season, but he tends to rise up in the playoffs. And he still provides a versatility that fits what the Lakers do very well. If you live and die with Odom night to night it is a roller coaster, but when you step back you see a picture of quality.

On another note Su Yue had 11 points on 4 of 15 shooting, with seven assists, in his first game for the D-Fenders. The reports are that he played pretty well, but his shot didn’t fall. The next game he had 12 points on 5 of 7 shooting.

What I thought was interesting was the report (couldn’t find the link) saying that the Lakers spent a lot of time debating sending Sun down and negotiating/talking with Chinese officials to make sure that this move was not seen as a demotion or an insult. As is very important in his culture, Sun needed to be able to save face, so a lot of time and effort was put into the timing and the wording of the press release that sent him down. I think everyone involved knew him getting some burn was a good thing, but it was all in the presentation.

The Trailblazers Coming In: I attended the Spurs/Clippers game this week (the infamous “the beatings will continue until morale improves” game) with a number of Pomona College grads. They were there because Greg Popovich used to coach at Pomona, and he recruited his now top assistant Mike Budenholzer to play for him there (but left before Mike arrived).

Budenholzer spoke to the group afterward, and he was asked about Brandon Roy, who the night before had dropped 26 on the Spurs in a Trailblazers win. The first thing he talked about was just how strong Roy is, how he may be the most physical PG in the league and that allows him to get into positions to get the shots he wants. That kind of PG (think D-Will) has really given the Lakers trouble in the past. Blazers Edge had a great line that Roy tends to “lullaby and waltz” his way to the rim, he changes speed beautifully and that with his strength makes it very hard to stop him.

He has led a Portland team playing very well now, they are 7-3 in their last 10 including that big win against the Spurs. Roy is shooting 56.8% (eFG%) in those last 10. Travis Outlaw and Rudy Fernandez have been playing great off the bench.

All that said, they barely beat the Pacers the other night. Every team at this time of year has clunker games. Here is what Nate McMillan said about the Lakers game right after the Pacers game:

“They know that we’ve beaten them up here so they’ll be ready for the game. We go into this game, what I wanted us to do was have a good rhythm going into this game. I wanted us to basically play really sharp to go into that game. We get this game but we gotta play much better than we did tonight to get that game because they are looking forward to it and for us it’s at home and we want to continue to protect home court.”

Keys To The Game: These are the two top offenses in the NBA (per possession, which is what matters). This is going to be a high-scoring game. That said, whichever team plays the best defense is going to get the win.

For the Lakers, that means protecting the rim. The Blazers are good on offense because they have guys that get to and finish at the rim.

The Lakers defense is predicated on stopping penetration, that is the reason for bringing the help line over so far (bringing the big over to essentially zone off the strong side), but that will be put to a real test with Roy. He is going to get past Fisher (and Farmar), Roy will kill you with layups, and while he hits jumpers it is at a lower percentage, so you have to get the ball out of his hands and to the other shooters. Against the Pacers, take Roy out of the equation and the team shot 37%. This is one case where the Nash/CP3 system is not the goal — you want to get the ball out of his hands and make someone else beat you.

Protecting the rim is also the key to Lamarcus Aldridge, who can only score at the rim and the left elbow (I have no idea why there, other than he worked on that spot because it is key to the offense, and he shoots 52% from there.

While the Lakers need to help on defense, you do not leave Steve Blake at the three point line to help.

The other key — and this is where Odom needs to break out of his slump — the Lakers have to crash the defensive glass. The Blazers grab 32.4% of their missed shots, the highest percentage in the league. Aldridge and Przybilla are good on the glass, and this is an athletic and long team. Teams that beat the Lakers tend to do it because they got a lot of easy buckets, often on fast breaks, but another way is offensive rebounds and put backs. The Lakers have to limit those.

Where you can watch: KCAL9 in LA with a 7 pm tip off. Nationally, League Pass and thee other usual suspects.


280 responses to Preview & Chat: The Portland Trailblazers

  1. I hope the Lakers make this a statement game!

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  2. First…And I was thinking, I’d like to see Kobe guarding Roy at key points throughout the game. I think that will slow him down and put a lot of pressure on the rest of the offense to get buckets. We match up really well overall, as I think Odom neutralizes Aldridge, their 2nd best weapon. We just need to close out hard on 3s, because they can catch fire at home on the drive & dishes.

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  3. This will be a great game to see the mettle of our bench players. They’ve come out firing at home against the cupcakes (Memphis and Minnesota), but will they be able to keep up the effort and intensity on the road in one of the most hostile buildings in the league. If they crumble, I think we’ll have to conclude that our bench is just not mentally tough enough to play consistently on the road. If they play well, I think we can safely say that our bench was just slumping while playing to the level of the competition. Overall, this game will be a great marker for the future of team success.

    That’s not to say this game is a be-all, end-all, but it will give us great insight into the mental state of the team. Hopefully they’ll give us a good performance rather than some good things that we need to improve on.

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  4. Sun Yue was also a good help defender during that game against Anaheim. Not many fans like him, but I do.

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  5. It’s 7 PM on KCAL 9, 03/09.

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  6. Yeah.. what rhybread said… got beat to it.. =\

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  7. j. d. hastings March 8, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Anybody else terrified by Stephon’s 2-5, 4 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists, -14 +/- in 21 starter minutes this afternoon?

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  8. changed to KCAL. Thanks.

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  9. The Dude Abides March 8, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    5. Correct, this game is Monday night. Here’s hoping that DJ can do a good job protecting the rim coming off the bench.

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  10. I’ve said and I will keep saying: Marbury won’t improve Celtics. He isn’t (and never was) half as good as his image. He’s an ineffective, volume scorer, who gets “empty” stats playing for very weak teams. I think Celtics guard rotation was stronger without Marbury.

    As for today’s game – it’s interesting. I think Lakers won’t win if they play in their usual lethargy. To win with Blazers we need intensity. I wonder if Lakers will be willing enough.

    I won’t get into technicalities – that somebody needs to rebound, someone to defend etc. At this moment Lakers should win every game – while healthy and rested. Except Cavs and Celtics there are no other opponents who are equal to us.

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  11. j. d. hastings March 8, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    9- I almost agree except that you should add the Bobcats to your list of teams that could compete with us. They have our number on the best of days and now we have to worry about a motivated Vlade whenever we see them…

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  12. Aldridge can score away from the rim as well. He has a sweet outside shot, but is sometimes inconsistent with it.

    This game will be the battle of Kobe and Roy, two very promising and young benches.

    Our advantage is obviously at the C position, where Pau can take advantage of Przybilla. How Joel is very strong physically and Pau does not really like playing against tough Centers that really on strength to make up for lack of skill

    Our weak spot is SF when Luke is in, but Nicolas Batum is not an offensive force (even though he is a pretty good defender). It will be fun to see Ariza vs Outlaw. They are both similar players in that both are athletic, run and hustle. Outlaw is definitely a better shooter, while Ariza is superior on defense.

    On the general note, away games to Portland are always tough for us, as Lakers are the worst nemesis for Blazers. With Cleveland (to Boston) and Boston (to Orlando) dropping a game each this week, Lakers need to capitalize and gain advantage on the best overall record.

    Another thing is that Portland is playing very well lately and gaining confidence. It will be difficult, but we have to establish a reasonable lead (7-12 points) in the first half in order to not let the Blazers have momentum and quiet the Portland crowd.

    I want to see good things happen to Mbenga and Powell tonight! Mitch is beginning to look like a very good talent evaluator, while being an excellent financial coordinator at the same time.

    I think Phil Jackson is switching to “getting ready for playoffs” mode, preaching more discipline and talent-equivalent distribution of shots, meaning more for Kobe and Pau and less for Sasha, Walton and Ariza. I hope Lakers stick to that philosophy in this game and many more to come

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  13. Hmmmmmm…

    http://blogmaverick.com/2009/03/08/some-interesting-nba-data/

    Cuban went through and examined all the schedules of teams this season, comparing the numbers of back-to-backs and 4 games in 5 days for each team (a more easy-to-read breakdown is here: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=pmOs6V1y43MZns5maY0T6UQ)

    In case you don’t entirely get the chart – “own b2b” is pretty self-explanatory, it’s how many times the team plays 2 games in a row. “opp b2b” is how many games the team gets an opponent on the second night of a back-to-back.

    The Lakers have one of the WORST (toughest) schedules in the league in comparing their own back-to-backs versus their opponents. They have eight more back-to-backs than opponents on the 2nd night of a back-to-back this season (worst ratio in the league), and one more 4-in-5.

    The Cavs and Celtics have much more friendly schedules. The Cavs only play 2 more back-to-backs than their opponents, and actually play one fewer 4-in-5. The Celtics have the friendliest schedule of the three: one fewer back-to-back, and THREE fewer 4-in-5 (the best ratio in the league).

    For those that say the NBA colludes with TV execs to rig things in favor of the Lakers, wouldn’t a favorable schedule (one of the few things the NBA and TV networks have almost total control over) be the simplest way to do so?

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  14. The game is Monday. I was working on the preview in advance and hit publish instead of save. So it’s out there.

    Re: Starbury. Maybe he can help them in 15 minutes off the bench, but expand his role to starting and I think this is what you get. I’d say I feel sorry for him, but that would be a lie.

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  15. Woke up this morning, checked FB&G and to my surprise, there it was! Real Women Don’t Wear Green. Thank you, Kurt! Will order one asap!

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  16. The Dude Abides March 8, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    13. Underbruin, I also noticed that a couple weeks ago, when it seemed we had an awful lot of back to back games, while our opponents never seemed to. I went back and checked then, and I think the last time we played a team that was on the 2nd night of a back to back was the first week of February. We do have three or four coming up in April, though.

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  17. It’s Monday morning over here and kinda surprised that the preview is up 😉

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  18. j. d. hastings March 8, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    At the beginning of the season the Lakers had 3 or 4 days off something like 3 or 4 times, even playing one game in over a week at one stretch. I thought at the time that was a bad sign for later in the season because teams only get so many of those long breaks. I wish the league would take more care to spread them through the year.

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  19. 76-re: Marbury

    JD, these are the games I just LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE. Boston forced to use Marbury heavy minutes, Marbury failing and instead of taking blame, slowly beginning to point fingers, and ubuntu becoming u-bum-too.

    A few more games minus Rondo… or any other combination of Marbury playing 15+, we may not even see the C’s come finals.

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  20. in past matchups this year, what have been the defensive assignments? i think of blake as a 1 and roy as a 2, but can see why kobe and roy (can we call him ‘wah’?) wouldnt guard each other. but kobes way too big for blake. so how have they matched up in the recent past?

    re schedules, i suspect he lakers get hosed because they appear on tv more often. schedule makers take that into account first, and back to backs are secondary. for other teams, not so much. just my hunch. its been awhile since i read about the husband and wife schedule making team. do they still do it?

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  21. Me and the boy are ready for the game and our assault on the 300 level in the Rose Garden. Joe’s Sports is selling Beat LA shirts and I’ve got my boy’s Lakers’ away warmups already sitting on his bed, ready for the morrow. I have a feeling the Lakers are going to come with energy seeing how the crowd here reacts to the Lakers and the awareness that the Blazers are a coming team.

    The thing with Roy is how well he gathers himself before every shot. His gathering to shoot and hesitation moves remind me of a great change up coming from a fastball pitcher. The effectiveness comes from each looking like the other.

    My biggest fear is that McMillen figures out how to use Rudy between now and tomorrow night.

    I’ll be interested to see if Bayless turns into a Lakers killer. He has the right mix of skills to cause us problems.

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  22. Can I ask a completely off-topic question? As Durant slowly makes his way from underrated to rated just fine and more and more people are acknowledging him, I’ve heard quite a bit of talk as the next era being the Lebron-Durant era, or as Durant being the only possible (feeble) challenger to Lebron’s crown in the next decade.

    Have these people seriously forgotten about Dwyane Wade?

    He may be a bit older, but he’s young enough to rule this next era. If you look at it one way, Wade is every bit as skilled as Lebron, only without the raw physical power and gifts. Don’t forget this is the first guy to carry a team to a Finals since Hakeem, and who put on arguably the greatest Finals performance of all time (arguably, but still he’s in the conversation).

    I think it’s just an overreaction to Durant being underrated. Simmons’ readers have suddenly been “enlightened” and now are rushing to anoint Durant as the next Big Thing. Don’t get me wrong, because Durant is fabulous. But he is not, and IMO will not, be as complete a player as Wade. Durant may be a better shooter, but the point is moot as Wade is explosive enough to score in the paint at will, and Wade (when he isn’t carrying the offensive burden) can be an extremely strong individual defender when he wants to.

    When Kobe eventually retires, I believe that the next era will be the Lebron-Wade era.

    And if we can ever get Lebron and Wade equally strong supporting casts at the SAME time, I think it would be the next Magic-Bird. Both are fabulous point-guard type wings who make their teammates so much better. If we’re robbed of the chance to see Lebron-Wade rule a decade because of inept front offices, I will be highly disappointed.

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  23. so, uh…. when’s the last time the lakers actually won in portland? I’m sure I’m mistaken, but it feels like they haven’t won there since that incredible game on the last day of the season (was that ’04?) in which kobe hit those huge threes and the lakers won the division against incredible odds.

    seriously, two laker truisms:

    always lose in portland
    rest bynum against memphis

    this is going to be a very tough little roadtrip and I’d love to see them start it with a ‘W’. Don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d take 2-1 right now in a heartbeat, esp. with the level of the defense we’re playing of late.

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  24. the thing with the blazers is they fall in love with their jumpshot quickly. if we’re able to stop them from getting to the rim they’ll fall into jumpshot mode. if we’re able to do that we should be able to pull out a W.

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  25. Snoopy,
    The only problem with the Wade description is that his style of play makes him injury prone – Lebron isn’t, because of his size; he dishes out more than he takes.

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  26. Thanks for listening to customer feedback, Kurt. Getting a shirt as soon as I have a spare moment!

    (And this super early post for tomorrow had me confused for a sec.)

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  27. PeanutButterSpread March 8, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    The schedule sucks balls of steel, but I think that’s because of how in demand the Lakers are for “must-see” TV. Every time the Lakers play some WC contender on an EC contender, it’s must see TV on TNT or ESPN. It’s ratings bonanza or at least “hyped-up” storylines bonanza with ppl wanting to see the Lakers win/lose.

    I hope this roadie will be a good one to the Lakers and that they start it with the same intensity they had finished with from the 7-game roadie awhile ago.

    Also, I’m really looking forward to big Drew coming back. Anyone heard of any new news yet?

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  28. 25, Craig – No doubt that’s true. Sorry, maybe I wasn’t clear enough in my post – I wasn’t necessarily trying to state that Wade was better than or as good as LBJ. What I was trying to say is that Wade is much closer than Durant is. I was just hearing talk of how the next era was going to be Lebron-Durant, and I was left wondering how Durant, in half a season, somehow leapfrogged the supreme skill of Wade.

    27 – The only news I’ve heard so far is that there have no setbacks like last year, and that he’s on schedule.

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  29. Wade is much closer to T-Mac than he is to challenging LeBron for the control of the next era. Although I am hoping as hell that I am wrong in this and he enjoys a relatively injury-free career from now on.

    What I have a hard time imagining is Kobe playing past his prime. Jordan never really got the hang of it(and I’m not sure if I wanted to see it), although I think he could have played a Cassel type role for a long, long time.

    Will Kobe ever be able to play as a ‘missing piece’ in the mold of Horry? Would fans want to see a once-dominant player reduced to a vagabond role-player? Isn’t that what Shaq is? Questions that bug me sometimes.

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  30. I’d love to see Kobe play past his prime

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  31. 29

    I don’t see why Kobe would become a ‘vagabond role player’ (Shaq is certainly more than that IMO) or a ‘missing piece’ unless he plays until he’s 39 or 40. Hell, Malone and Jordan were still still legit All-Stars at that age.

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  32. Snoopy2006,
    Remember how fast the ‘talking heads’ turned on Kobe? Like in the time of the Roman Empire, we are always looking for fresh food. In a couple of years we will be looking at the next budding superstar and our ‘oldies but goodies’ will be barely mentioned. That is the problem with instant gratification and 24/7 news cycles.

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  33. P Ami- Have fun with your son at the game, represent FBG well…but be safe. I’m sure most Blazer fans are nice, but they can get pretty loud and if they are anything like they’re color commentator, they are big-time homers.

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  34. Thanks for that chart, Mark Cuban!

    That shows how unfairly the games are scheduled. I would also like to see that statistic broken down:

    (1) for after the All Star break
    (2) average winning percentage (in 2008) of teams played on the second night

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  35. harold,,

    I agree with you. I’m curious to see how Kobe plays whenever he start declining. I can’t see a 35+ year old Kobe being able to accept a decline in capability. *IF it happens.* Could his self worth and reality mesh? I think his ego is too big to handle not being THE man, but that (ego) is not necessarily a bad thing.

    Jordan was still elite at 35, and a very capable player at 38. We still have a lot of time. The only difference is, there was no LeBron waiting in the wings for everyone ready to anoint towards the end of Jordan’s Era. Kobe fights perception, and that fuels him, be it positively and negatively.

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  36. Somebody asked: The Last time the Lakers won in Portland: Feb. 23, 2005.

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  37. Snoppy2006,

    Wade didn’t carry the Heat to the Finals. They did have Shaq in his prime. Plus, Wade’s Finals performance was tainted by some very questionable officiating, and I hate blaming referees.

    I don’t think Dwyane Wade will win another Chip.

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  38. Really excited for this week, should be another fun test for the Lakers.

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  39. By the way, that Ty Lawson guy looked pretty good yesterday, didn’t he?

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  40. Updating these into the post as well, but here are a couple of links:

    Kobe and Gasol speak Spanish on the court:

    http://www.nbclosangeles.com/sports/basketball/Kobe-Gasol-Habla-Espanol-On-Court.html

    An update on Injuries around the NBA:

    http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-38-291/NBA–No-Bodies-Available.html

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  41. I still remember the Portland game on the final night of the ’04 regular season where Kobe hit the ridiculous 3 to send to overtime and then to win it. I remember the announcers talking about the Sacramento game and the Queens losing to open the door for us to win the Pacific Division. The ending to that game was unreal. When you add all of the other close losses their team has had to us (2000 WCF, 1991 WCF among others), I can see why they get so up for playing us. Let’s get the road trip started and get 3 Ws.

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  42. I definitely think Kobe will linger too long in the game as his skills diminish. He defines himself entirely by this game. More than anybody I can recall. Even Jordan tried baseball and took up golf and cards to satisfy his general competitiveness. But Kobe has been all about basketball from a much earlier age. Every day of his life is dictated by basketball or workouts to improve his skill at it. His devotion to the craft itself may be the most underrated part of him.

    So i see him having a Favre like inability to tear himself away. Whether he can adjust to becoming a role player, I don’t know. Doesn’t sound like him, but we’ll see. I could totally see him pulling a Dominique and playing in Europe once his nba days are through though.

    Then maybe he’ll take a stab at coaching that won’t go well because he won’t be able to deal with peoples’ lesser work ethic or abilities. Could he be some sort of announcer or “analyst?” It would be interesting to hear him open up once his career was over. Usually if he’s not playing when others are I think he’s too upset or politic to be an effective guest host on Inside the NBA or anything.

    We’ll see. Just try to remember all the good times we had if we have to put up with a few years of him outstaying his welcome.

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  43. i don’t think ricky rubio plays for the trailblazers….yet

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  44. 43. Thanks, I made that change, a few people have reminded me. This is what happens when writing at night after a couple glasses of nice Pinot…..

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  45. I watched that Duke and North Carolina game and Ty Lawson was a difference maker. His speed and ability to finish at the rim helped a bunch, giving the Tar Heels the win.

    Kurt, what did you think of Tyler Hansbrough performance?

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  46. j.d. Hastings,
    I don’t think Kobe will go quietly into the night. However, I do think his respect for the craft will allow him to become more efficient in other areas of the game.

    I suspect he will become an even better passer and selective rebounder. My guess is he may become the most effective mid-range shooter we have seen. These skills will all benefit him when his athleticism begins to wane.

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  47. Here is an interview with Kareem that I think all of you should read. I have followed Kareem since he enrolled at UCLA in 1965 and – like Ali – he is a true trailblazer {sorry for the pun???}. Like the ESPN pieces Black Magic, Kareem’s life and interests should be something we all know about. http://tvsportsdaily.com/article.php?story=20090302072052892

    Also, for you coaches out there, take a look at one of Kareem’s websites. http://www.hoopiq.com/

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  48. 42. I think that is going to be interesting, because while Kobe is competitive he also is a very self aware person, and now guards his image carefully. When he first realizes it is time to step away, he might be more willing than you think to do so. He’d miss it, but he wants to be remembered near the top, not in a Wizards uniform. We’ll see if he learned that lesson and if he could pull himself away even if he does understand he should. That will be an interesting development.

    45. Meh. He makes some plays at the college level, but at the pro level I think he’ll be in for a surprise. Not that he shouldn’t be drafted, but he is a college star and NBA bench 15 min. guy to me. I mean at his peak. He doesn’t show to me the rounded, polished game of a Kevin Love.

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  49. I read somewhere that last year the winning percentage of teams playing back to backs was 43%. The mean, by definition, of course is 50%.

    What does this means for the Lakers who have a net deficit of 8 (8 more games played on back to back than their opponents)? 8 is the highest in the league and works out to an extra loss of 1 game.

    This is calculated via a simple assumption that their current winning percentage is decreased proportionally by the ratio 43/50.

    The specific example is that they win their last game in Denver with a full game of rest than the worst back to back of all , which is a home/away.

    With all respect to Kurt, the Blazers don’t really get to rim much except for Roy. 67% of their attempts are jump shots (vs 64% for the Lakers) . These stats include Oden and they shoot alot more jump shots now.

    For some reason McMillan insists on a slow-paced game. With a deep young team, the fastest big man in the league (Aldridge), and grey hounds in Fernandez, Outlaw, and Bayless, you would think running a bit more would be helpful.*

    The Lakers can slack off on transition defense and 3 point shots off penetration. Since the Blazers don’t run, their 3 point shots better be on.

    * In their last game against SAS, the Blazers ran and blew out the spurs. One game aberration or change in coaching philosophy? We shall see.

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  50. Who’s going to score more points tonight, Andrew Bynum or Greg Oden?

    Oh wait, one’s injured and the other’s become the second coming of Michael Olowokandi. (I won’t say he’s the next Kwame Brown because Oden at least seems to want to play well, even if he can’t, whereas Kwame was only in town for the cake.)

    Man, things have changed a lot since opening night’s TV-led force feeding of the “Two Best Young Centers in the West” battle.

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  51. Bill, what maybe a better phrasing would have been is that they finish well at the rim. I was looking at their hot shot shooting charts for most key players, and only Blake can shoot outside very specific spots on the court with any consistency.

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  52. Chris J – Greg Oden has become the second coming of the Candy Man. Lol, ok. He hasn’t even played in 82 games yet. But hey, where there are no instant results, a bust is on the horizon.

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  53. I hope to see Kobe in denial mode against Roy. Once he catches the ball, he’s so good at getting his shot off that I’d love to use the strategy of limiting his touches by denying him the ball. This will be harder when he’s playing defacto PG, but when they have Blake bring the ball up and get into the halfcourt I want to see some ball denials.

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  54. Discussions of how long Kobe will play should include the question of whether or not Kobe has a real shot to pass Kareem for all-time career points. As of this moment (before the portland game), Kobe’s at 23,354, or 15,033 points behind Kareem. Assuming Kobe averages 27.5 points a game (and plays every game), he would need 547 games to pass Kareem, or (after this year), 527/82 = 6.4 seasons. At 25 ppg, he would need 601 games, or after this season, 581/82 or 7.08 seasons.

    We can debate whether or not he has a real shot at this, just as we can debate if Lebron has a better or worse shot, but I have a hard time believing that Kobe hasn’t at least eyeballed these numbers for himself and that they won’t play a major role in determining his career longevity (obviously assuming no serious injuries)…

    Anyway, it’s something to think about for those who argue he will retire in 5 years at his peak– namely, that he will likely, then, be a mere couple of seasons from the all-time record.

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  55. 54) lil pau
    I think Kobe’s willingness to play longer will depend more on the number of titles he has, and the potential for him to get more prior to retirement. He realizes that that has a bigger affect on the general perception of how a player ranks, then point/rebound/assist statistics.

    He will need to take a significantly smaller contract if he wants an extended career. Teams won’t be able to afford a salary like his if he’s not one of the top few in the game.

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  56. You can’t use a player’s recent seasons as a way to predict whether a player will surpass Kareem’s scoring total.

    It seems logical to set a “pace” and factor how many years before before so and so scores X number of points. But you simply can’t forecast how a guy’s body may break down at any given moment.

    Exhibit 1A to support this argument would be none other than Karl Malone, the NBA’s No. 2 scorer in history.

    In 2002-03, his last year with Utah, he played 81 games and averaged more than 20 points per contest. He led the Jazz to the playoffs that year.

    Everything seemed to suggest he’d have no issue playing well for another two years, at which time he’d have topped Kareem as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer — again, provided Malone remained on pace with prior years (or even slowed his scoring marginally).

    We all know what came next. I thought he was great in L.A. in his final year — when he was actually on the floor. But the Mailman had only 41 games in him that season, his scoring fell to 13.2 ppg and after the loss to Detroit he was last seen arguing with Kobe about what may or may not have been said between Malone and Mrs. Bryant. So much for “He’s on pace to top Kareem.”

    The same thing could knock off Kobe or LeBron or anyone else. One bad knee, one bad ankle… car crash or Yoko Ono. You just can’t tell what the future holds.

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  57. anybody got a link for tonight’s game? I’ll be in class and hope to catch it online somewhere

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  58. What ultimately stops most ‘top shelf’ players is their legs. As a shooter, Kobe should be able to play for a lot more years. Athletically he hasn’t had any leg problems over his career, so I most likely will be able to play for longer than average. He may not be the highlight reel that he was, but 1) he is already cutting back on that activity and 2) that is the high risk play that most of us want to see reduced, anyway.

    With Shaq, Kobe was excellent at getting the ball into the middle. With Andrew and Pau, he seems to be in that same mode.

    Kobe is extremely smart about his body and conditioning. He also has an extremely high BB IQ. Finally, he is also seemingly astute about presenting himself to the public these days. All this argues for him adjusting his game to maximize the skills he retains.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about Kobe suddenly dropping off a cliff – playingwise. Not too likely.

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  59. Darius,

    Yeah. Ball denial is the best thing to do against Roy. He is very deceptive, and gives Kobe (and mostly everyone else) problems.

    I wonder how long it takes before Pryzbilla is firing Kobe up with his usual ineffective cheap shots.

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  60. I have been mentally crossing my fingers all day, hoping against hope that my league pass subscription will give me the KCAL feed instead of the portland one. i absolutely CANNOT STAND their announcers, especially their color guy – reminds me way too much of tommy heinsohn (shudder)

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  61. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Kobe speaks fluent Spanish. He can get by, but it was made abundantly clear in last year’s MVP presser that he’s not quite fluent:

    “…a todos mis fans que, umm, supported me. What, Spanglish, what do you want? You ask too much.”

    I’m sure it’s good enough to get the point across on the floor, though.

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  62. Why do I think Kobe doesn’t need any ‘firing up’ for the game tonight?

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  63. Kobe always says that he has no idea about what records he has broken when interviewed after a game, but I tend to believe he is just trying to act humble because he is a great basketball historian.

    In my opinion there is no doubt that Kobe will play into his late thirties or even forty if his health permits.

    At thirty-five and a half Jordan was the best player in basketball when he retired. I can’t see Kobe doing the same thing. He is just too obsessed with the game to retire before he needs to. If Shaq can play until thirty-eight (assuming he retires when his contract expires) then Kobe can play until forty and become the first player to score 40,000 points.

    Kobe will never be a “role” player. Assuming Bynum can stay healthy and stay a Laker, Kobe would eventually become the second option on a team that competes at a high level for the next decade.

    Anyway I know Kobe loves playing the Blazers, as he has averaged 36ppg against them since Shaq left town.

    I love the Blazers, because they were the stepping stone that set up the three-peat. I will never forget the best game I have ever attended was game 7 of the Western conference Finals, when they were down 15 in the fourth and Kobe, Shaq and Shaw surged a comeback capped by the famous Kobe to Shaq alley-oop.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_ikaIDz-Ck

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  64. Lamar s just inconsistent, always has been, always will be.

    Lakers should lose tonight, Portland needs this win a whole lot more, however, I wouldnt be surprised if we pull it out by a couple, I think it will be a close game none the less.

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  65. I could definitely see Kobe as part of NBA broadcasts. He has an amazing eye for what’s happening on the floor, is a very analytical type of person and also well-spoken. He’s already had a great appearance I can remember on TNT’s show with Ernie, Kenny, and Charles. The question is, can he be as entertaining as Webber for example, who is just amazing in my opinion.

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  66. GQue24:
    WOW, I don’t think the Lakers are going to get rid of Bynum.

    Lamar may be overpaid, but he does contribute to many victories throughout the season and playoffs, how quickly a few bad games will make you call a player trash. You sound like he has personally wronged you…did you lose some money on the Phoenix or Denver game?

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  67. My comment apparently doesn’t make sense now that GQues24’s has been deleted.

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  68. I did an interview today with Oregon Live, if you want to check it out:

    http://blog.oregonlive.com/blazers/2009/03/qa_blazerslakers_preview.html

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  69. I’m looking for the Lakers to contain Roy as best as they can, neutralize Aldridge and not let Steve Blake get his rhythm going. To me, the easiest of the three will be Blake. Stopping Roy is a tall order. And stopping Aldridge will be the wild card.

    If Aldridge gets 10 open looks from 10-12 feet (42% eFG jumpers) and 5 layups/dunks (52%eFG inside) it’ll be a long night for the purple marauders. If they can limit him to fewer than 5 rebounds, 10 contested outside looks, and only a couple layups/dunks, the Lakers can prevail.

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  70. 63 – one thing that’s always struck me about the clip is shaq’s abject refusal to acknowledge kobe as he runs back down the court after the oop. I’m probably reading way too much into it, but kobe was the one who made that entire play happen, and he even extends his hand to shaq afterwards, but with no reciprocity.

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  71. Craig W,

    No. Kobe doesn’t need to “fired up,” but Joel always throws gasoline on the fire. Every time. As soon as he comes in, Kobe’s going to the rack, and Pryzbilla will try one of his hard fouls and start a Kobe 8-0 run.

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  72. I try to not comment on FB&G unless I have something very thoughtful to add because of the great insight of people like Bridges and kwame a.

    So – on a personal level I would HATE for Kobe to even attempt to fill the Horry role. At every level Kobe’s image commands a certain level of respect, however in stepping down from the top-dog strata he will forever tarnish the transcendence he is known for. Ultimately I agree with others on this board who think Kobe will make his decision to leave the game in relation to championships he can win. Very much like Jordan.. if the Bulls weren’t so dominant how likely would have his return have truly been.

    We as Lakers fans can and will cry for the next player who can be guarded by three people and still hit a pull-up corner three – but perhaps our perception of “team” basketball has been shifted and our desire to follow a God among men is almost seditious to the nature of the game.

    Before I am reminded of Kareem during Showtime and all the other amazing Laker greats… I just want people to ask how well we will adjust to a Kobe-less back court when Durant and LBJ come to town.

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  73. Kurt- re: Hansborough- All I see when I watch Hansborough play is an East Coast version of Mark Madsen. Madsen may have been more dominant in college actually, because at least he took his team to a final 4. They are quite similar, able to bully the kids in college, but that just doesn’t translate into the NBA. I agree-15 minute 9th man for 7-9 years. Not a bad gig, but he ain’t nobody special.

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  74. Sorry about the typos, I was trying to focus on typing while making my prof think I was taking notes… God only one more year left.

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  75. Ugh, in Oregon we are stuck with Blazer telecasts, the announcers go on and on about the calls, Kobe being treated special, Phil sitting on his “throne”, etc.

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  76. Someone mentioned a while back in here something about Oden not playing well. I don’t believe that-he did what I think most expected of him-he rebounded very, very well, shot a good percentage, drew a ton of fouls, and had a large turnover ratio (sounds remarkably like the man he took the starting gig from).

    It has been well documented, but his main issue is fouling, which plagues so many young bigs in the NBA.

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  77. 60

    LeaguePass usually goes with the home team broadcast, so I think we will be stuck with Mike Rice. Oh joy. 🙁

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  78. Almost game-time, my keys to tonight:

    1) LO challenging Aldridge’s mid-range: this will require him not getting in foul trouble and applying pressure on the offensive end to tire Aldrige out, weakening his jumper.

    2) Our bench not getting badly outscored: If we can play there bench near even, we should be in good shape.

    3) Perimeter players must rebound: we need Walton, Kobe, Ariza and or PGs to hit the glass.

    I love the intensity from the crowd in these games, hope its a good one.

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  79. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Kwame is giving Detroit some clutch play late in the game against Orlando. He had a block that led to a fast break, then got a key rebound off a Dwight Howard free throw.

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  80. Let’s get it on, people! IN mah Blogging outfit, Pau Jersey on, let’s do this!

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  81. any links for the game?

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  82. http://www.justin.tv/lakers_n1

    It sounds like robots, and I am pretty sure it is the Lakers broadcast. I am not sure.

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  83. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I would rather listen to robots over Mike Rice 100% of the time. Even evil robots.

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  84. What about evil smoking robots?

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  85. Woo-hoo, Mike Rice! Impartiality personified.

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  86. Okay, I hear spaceship sounds. No kidding!

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  87. Little old school Phil. No T.O.

    We need to get it straight who is guarding Roy. Seems to be some cross-matchups and we are not playing them well.

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  88. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    So much for portland being a halfcourt jumpshooting team…

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  89. Saw that celticshub got upset with our Anti-Celt t-shirt. They wanted requests to one-up the Laker fans. Not sure if even Kevin McHale can help them out. Go Lakers!!!

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  90. jesus luke…

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  91. It’s bad enough that Walton can’t guard Roy (understandable), but if Kobe can’t contain Nicolas Batum the Lakers have problems.

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  92. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Blazers production team: I don’t need the futuristic soundtrack when telling me about every foul.

    Luke: You’re doing a terrible job on defense and can’t hit a shot. Good job.

    Pau: Make a shot.

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  93. We can’t keep a single Portland player out of the lane.

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  94. Pau has got to give us more interior d.

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  95. they need to get pau the ball against channing frye

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  96. Did the Lakers practice on a high hoop this afternoon? All of their shots are going off the back of the rim…a house is slowly being built.

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  97. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    16 points? Seriously? The lakers have been awful defensively, but 16 points? That’s absurd.

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  98. Seriously I hate their announcers.. I think I might just have to light some up and chill or else im gonna wanna go after em

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  99. Luke included*

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  100. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    did Mike Rice just call Mbenga “Muhgemba?”

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  101. Portland pulling the Kano-style fatality on the Lakers right now.

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  102. well this is inspired stuff so far

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  103. anyone else get the sense that the atmosphere of this game is too much for our bench? they’re playing scared and tentative

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  104. We look like we’ve never seen tape on Portland. Why are we playing them like this? No ball movement on o, no ability to stop penetration on d. ARGH!

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  105. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Okay, so Farmar gets screened at the 3 point line and nobody switches so Blake has an entire quarter of the court to the basket to drive. Pau doesn’t budge towards him, though Ariza sags halfway off Outlaw as if considering helping. Which leaves Outlaw open to hit the 3.

    I think every Laker contributed to that crappy defensive possession.

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  106. It is a team effort.

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  107. Honestly, there is no “Meh-benga” on our team.

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  108. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Ariza gambles for the steal off outlaw who rolls straight to the rim the draw the foul on Mbenga.

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  109. I don’t know what’s worse, the sieve-like perimeter D or the lack of help on the inside. Ridiculous.

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  110. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    3 great defensive possessions in one that time.

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  111. These Portland announcers are worse than the 2 muppets in the balcony who call themselves announcers for the Sac Kings.

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  112. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    I know they just made 2 3pointers, but I’d still have them shooting those than going inside incessantly. Also, 2 possessions in a row we’ve gone inside. Only got 1 point, but I like the ideas.

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  113. We need to do a better job closing out on 3 point shooters …we cant count on them missing

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  114. You’d think that the Lakers would realize that Outlaw was hot from outside tonight and try to guard him out there.

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  115. You know how those Madden video games had a category for each player called “awareness”. Right now our team and individual awareness is a zero. Zero because we are allowing spot up shooters to get wide open looks, and over commiting to PGs whose sole intention of driving is to kick. We need to play to the Blazers weaknesses, not their strengths.

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  116. Did Luke not read the book on Roy? Poor outside shooter? You don’t crowd him on the perimeter!!

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  117. Our defensive effort has been pathetic.

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  118. Portland cant play this well for 48mins right?

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  119. 117

    I don’t think most of the Laker players have particularly good defensive instincts, which is probably why the scheme is relatively simple. It’s amazing how often they seem oblivious to the tendencies and strengths of the players they are defending.

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  120. embarrising, but this has been coming

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  121. 120

    Maybe not, but they won’t need to if the Lakers keep defending like this.

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  122. WOW. Travis Outlaw grabs Lamar, and it’s foul on Odom?

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  123. I would hate for the Lakers to have to play Portland in the first round. They haven’t brought their A game on the road against Portland in years. They also frankly have some potential match-up problems athletically against them

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  124. Wow. Am I glad I am unable to watch this on TV tonight.

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  125. 124. Yeah Odom ran him over but Outlaw was holding him.

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  126. That has to be the worst half we’ve played all year. Horrible on both ends of the floor.

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  127. when bynum is out we absolutely need lamar to create offensivly and since that 5 or 6 game run he had he’s gone into old lamar, all our role players are going backwards (am i the only one who thought farmar would be a starting quality pg by now), and gasol seems (understandibly) tired.

    PS Can you imagine portland with Durant? scary

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  128. I know we have had some monster 3rd quarters this year, but can we come back from this deficit? And whatever happened to Farmar? I havent seen anything from him for a while now.

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  129. that was not a charge

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  130. Anybody still think the Lakers are better without Bynum? If nothing else he drastically reduces the reliance on Odom to produce on a consistent basis.

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  131. I like the way we have come out this half. We arent gonna roll over, now lets rebound and get some more stops. Cut it to 10 (or less) by the end of the quarter

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  132. kwame a. did you just say rebound? Did you just see the last series, where the Blazers played volleyball over the basket until someone decided to score? Ugh.

    I’d be hard pressed to think of a worse game by the Lakers.

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  133. …and he might also stop the Blazers from having their way on the offensive glass. Yikes.

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  134. for the love of god get walton out please

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  135. Why is Luke Walton guarding Brandon Roy?

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  136. The Lakers are not even trying to box out this game. Not a good game by the Lakers.

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  137. What exactly do the Lakers have against boxing out? Seriously?

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  138. Seven offensive rebounds for Pryzbilla alone. Get Walton out for Ariza, who will at least do a better job on Roy. Get Odom out for Powell, as Odom isn’t going up for the rebound out of fear of getting that fifth foul.

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  139. Stop leaving guys outside!!!

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  140. Why the hell does Farmar stop at 20 feet for a jumper on a fast break?

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  141. This game is done. The Blazers play at the second slowest pace in the league, so there won’t be enough possessions for us to chip away at the lead. We lost the game in the 2nd quarter when the bench came in and didn’t score any points.

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  142. ok ive seen enough

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  143. The starters won’t play in the 4th.. PJax won’t risk injuring players for an already decided game..

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  144. Just checked in on the game. What is going on? Why are the Lakers just jacking up shots from outside? It’s obvious they are missing everything. Where is Phil? What is going on? Coach?

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  145. It never seemed to me like we were ever in it mentally. Sleepwalking from the tip.

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  146. So when did the clipper step in for us? There is no effort, pride what so ever in this game.

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  147. Didn’t think it was time for our scheduled loss, but then again scheduling was never in our favor.

    Maybe we needed this sort of a wake up call after rolling with the cellar dwellers.

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  148. Could this get any worse? What was Ariza or Roy thinking worst game of the year.

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  149. Okay now I’m definitely watching the 4th quarter!!! It’s gonna get interesting…

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  150. schedule is not an excuse. They had 3 days to rest.

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  151. He went for ball. No malicious intent. That’s not a flagrant two.

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  152. he went for the ball, but im fine with that flagrant call. lamar is gonna get suspended too.

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  153. Great way to cap off a dreadful game. Odom will probably get suspended for leaving the bench area as well. Hope Fernandez is OK.

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  154. we used to be one of the best rebounding teams in the league so this is doubly embarassing. This is too painful to watch. I think i’m done.

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  155. It was ugly but it actually looked like he went for the ball. Everyone’s heated though; disagree with the call but I understand it.

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  156. can’t wait to see what henry abbott will have to say about this!

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  157. He went for ball, their arms got entangled, and Ariza ended up dragging Rudy to his ground with his momentum. Hard impact on the ground; again, referees looking at the result. This is how it’s called, so I’m not going to dispute that, but there’s no malicious intent.

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  158. after seeing that replay, i understand the ejection. Probably going to be a suspension as well. Ariza wound up in midair and swiped horizontally at head level…

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  159. Wasn’t that all ball with a clip of the head? Meh.

    These Blazers announcers are hilarious. First they say the hit by reason is where Fernandez got hurt. Then they say Rudy seem to hurt his right shoulder. Which is it?

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  160. These. Announcers. Hurt. My. Ears.

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  161. “no need to do it – he’s going for a layup in a 30 point game”

    no. easy. buckets.

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  162. Looked like some kind of whiplash injury to the neck when he came down. Being half spanish I really hope he’s ok (I’d still hope that otherwise too of course, but even more so now).

    That being said, Ariza did go for the ball. But it was careless, to put it mildly.

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  163. That was definitely a flagrant 2, that was a wild swing that could have just as easily clotheslined him then hit the ball. I don’t think he should get a suspension though. Maybe 1 game at the most.

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  164. I don’t know about ‘malicious intent’ but it was a reckless foul by Ariza. Also, as far as I know the refs are not expected to determine someone’s intent when it comes to flagrant fouls.

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  165. “no. easy. buckets.”

    Apart from the gazillion the Lakers have already given up in this game…

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  166. I thought you had to come onto the court to warrant a suspension. Right?

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  167. Just tuned in to see what happened. The announcers make it sound like Ariza tried to take Rudy down with ill intent and then Odom went in for the kill…

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  168. in terms of suspensions, there are a couple of certainties in my mind. lamar will be suspended for sure, and i think probably ariza as well (i’m anticipating more than one game).

    regardless of intent, it ended up being a hack at his head. Ariza’s lack of remorse after the fact probably doesn’t help his cause either.

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  169. I respect the fact that Ariza didn’t give up the dunk in a 30 point game though…

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  170. 165

    I’m pretty sure you get suspended for ‘leaving the bench area’, not just stepping onto the court.

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  171. Thanx Joel.

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  172. Call me a homer but i didnt see much to that foul…He went up high for the ball.

    What was Ariza supposed to do when Roy and co attacked him though? Let them slap him around?

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  173. @ #160 – phineas

    Ditto.

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  174. let me first say by saying that i hate to see anyone go down in such a violent fashion, opponent or not, and i hope fernandez is ok.

    that being said, enough was enough. If you’re are prepared to be fast breaking with a 30 point lead, you better be prepared to have your shot contested – in this case, more violently than any of us would have wanted.

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  175. Ariza probably deserves a suspension, but I’m ok with that. He did swing for the ball, but he got Rudy’s head, so even though there was no ill intent, he still caught him in the head then dragged him down, even if it was unintentional.

    Yea, intent matters, but if I kill someone with the best of intentions, I’m still guilty of murder (or at least manslaughter). Likewise, Ariza is guilty of taking down Fernandez, even if he didn’t intend to.

    That said, I like Ariza’s effort to try and stop our team from getting humiliated. Hopefully this will galvanize our team a little bit during this stretch run

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  176. That’s good that Roy got in Ariza’s face, that’s a good teammate. Remember when Kobe got clothelined by Raja Bell and nobody got in his face. Never sat well with me, and probably didn’t with Kobe either.

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  177. there’s no reason for kobe to be in this game right now.

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  178. 175,

    Phil wants to see whether we’re going to have a Kobe moment or not before the game is over.

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  179. You might as well play him until he gets his 6th foul

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  180. Not sure how Kobe got called for his 5th when he was hit with an illegal screen by Pryzbilla directly in front of the ref.

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  181. BCR – i can see that, but let’s be realistic. We’re not going to outscore them by 30 in this quarter, and the tone of this game has gotten very, very ugly, so why risk anything by leaving him out there?

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  182. They should sit Gasol and Kobe already. Do the smart thing like what Popovich would =\

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  183. Before you turn off the tv remember the lakers were one stop in game 2 of the finals from one of the greatest comebacks in sports history

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  184. Getting pieced by the Blazers for the tune of 30 points after 3 days rest has gotta suck. Curse of the Leprechaun!

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  185. Wow, Mike Rice knows so little about basketball.

    “How can Horry have more playoff games than Russell when Horry has 5 less rings?!”

    sigh…

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  186. I swear, Mbenga hasn’t missed that 17 footer once since he’s began shooting it.

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  187. A lot less series back in Russell’s day…

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  188. It’s down to 20 points now.

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  189. We couldn’t play like this for 3 quarters?!

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  190. Haha Portland is up by 18 with 9 minutes left and their announcers are actually nervous.

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  191. Actually, I retract my comment about taking Kobe out. Barring a hard, injury-causing screen from Przybilla, having Kobe out there to facilitate the offense and give the second unit some confidence and closure to an awful game makes a lot of sense.

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  192. Am I hearing it right? The announcer is wishing for Kobe to get his sixth foul? Wow. Talk about homerism.

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  193. Sounds like Rudy just had the wind knocked out of him…

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  194. Did Lavetta just call that?

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  195. If nothing else, this is good 3 point shooting practice!

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  196. If there’s any reason to watch this game, it’s to watch the Blazers announcers freak out about the Lakers eating way at the lead.

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  197. ” Keep the ball on the ground, he’ll foul you.”
    “Vujacic is just complaining becasue he doesn’t know the rules.”
    “Big free throws here” (8-9 minutes left Blazers with a nearly 20 point lead).

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  198. mbenga with the facial!

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