Preview & Chat: The Portland Trailblazers

Darius Soriano —  February 6, 2010

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Update: Kobe Bryant will not play tonight because of the sprained ankle that he has been nursing.  Obviously this shifts around the starting lineups.  I would assume that either Shannon Brown or Sasha Vujacic will start, but a darkhorse to start the game would be Luke Walton with Ron Artest sliding down to SG to start the game.  This obviously also changes the dynamic for this team on offense as they have lost their main perimeter threat for the first time in well over 200 games.  This puts an even greater emphasis on our big men performing and we’ll see how all of the other players step up without Kobe in the lineup.  As if this game wasn’t interesting enough.  Back to the preview…

Records: Lakers 38-13 (1st in West) Trailblazers 30-22 (7th in West, 8.5 games back of Lakers)
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 109.4 (9th in league), Trailblazers: 111.0 (5th in league)
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 102.8. (5th in league) Trailblazers: 107.8 (18th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Trailblazers: Andre Miller, Jerryd Bayless (though Roy is a game time decisions and could play), Martell Webster, LaMarcus Aldridge, Juwan Howard

About Last Night: The Lakers ran into a hot, confident, and inspired-with-something-to-prove team in the Denver Nuggets.  Even without Carmelo Anthony, the Nuggets are dangerous and capable and proved that they are a team to be reckoned with.  It’s obvious that the Lakers could have played better defense and been (much) smarter on offense.  Early in the game on defense we saw players help when they should not have and late in the game on offense we saw too much P&R and forced shots outside the flow of our offense.  We gave up and gave away easy points and that contributed to a bitter defeat.

That said, when a team that is as explosive as the Nuggets finds their groove the way that they did in the second half, not much is going to knock them off their trajectory.  So, despite a better effort in the 4th quarter to play defense, it really didn’t matter as Billups and J.R. Smith hit some amazing shots that not only increased their lead but also took the air out of the Lakers.  You throw in our players forcing shots and not making them and you get a ballooning lead that snowballed in the last 5 minutes.  At this point, I could lament on and on about mistakes made on individual plays or break down what went wrong by exploring the X’s and O’s but what we all saw was a determined opponent that found a comfort zone.  It’s as simple as that.  Really, that type of basketball is a beautiful thing to see – except when the team you root for is on the other end of the thrashing.  I tip my cap to the Nuggs and move on to the next game.

Portland coming in: The Blazers can be looked at two different ways right now – they’re either a struggling team (6-6 in their last twelve) that is dealing with some devastating injuries to some of their best players (Oden, Pryzbilla, Roy, Outlaw) or they are a scrappy bunch that is staying in the playoff hunt by maxing out the talent that is available to them.  I lean towards the latter when it comes to this group.  They have won 3 of their last 4 and by beating the Spurs, Charlotte, and Dallas (with the only loss coming to a red hot Jazz team).  And even though Roy is again doubtful for tonight’s game, they’ve gotten Rudy Fernandez and Nic Batum back into the lineup and Andre Miller is stepping up his offensive game to off-set the absence of Roy.  When you throw in a very good player like Aldridge and an uderrated two way player in Martell Webster, you’ve got enough talent to compete every night.  Especially when Nate McMillan, a guy known to get the most out of his players, is pacing the sidelines.

Blazer’s Blogs: Beyond Bowie is new on the scene but they are doing some very good things at that site.  And there is always the very strong Blazer’s Edge, where Dave and crew are always bringing smart analysis and great writing on anything Blazers.

Keys to the Game: Welcome to the ‘Land of the Loss’.  The Lakers have historically struggled to get wins in the Rose Garden and tonight will be no different.  Throw out the records and disregard the injury reports when these two teams meet.  Last night, you saw a visibly frustrated Lakers team depart their home court as fans were quiet and stunned.  Tonight, I’d like to see them channel some of that frustration into positive energy, smart play, and a focus on getting back to the little things that are the difference between winning and losing.

I’m going to sound like a broken record, but on offense the Lakers need to get the ball inside.  The Blazers are down to a big man rotation that prominently features Juwan Howard, Jeff Pendergraph, and Dante Cunningham.  And even though Aldridge is still going strong for Portland, the Lakers have a big advantage inside.  The Lakers need to pass the ball into the post and let Pau and Bynum go to work.  But when the ball does go into the post, the other Lakers just can’t stand around and watch.  The key to the Triangle is ball and player movement and too often we’re getting little of both.  Make the post entry and cut, screen, and be active.  Also, if Roy does not play, look for one of Artest or Kobe to take advantage of a smaller player that is guarding them.  The Blazers have been starting the diminutive Jerryd Bayless in Roy’s place and he’s going to have to guard someone.  If the Blazers use him to defend our PG, then that means Andre Miller will need to guard either Kobe or Ron.  If they keep Miller defending our PG that means Bayless will be on Kobe or Ron – either way this is an advantage that the Lakers can exploit.  But all of this should come within the flow of our sets.  Run the backside screen action that leads to curls into the lane.  Play more of the high low game with Pau at the FT line and Bynum getting deep position under the rim.  I hope to see less high P&R and more of the ball screen actions that are built into the Triangle – i.e. the sideline P&R and the pinch post hand off P&R that we hurt Orlando with in the last years Finals.

On defense, the Blazers will look to exploit our P&R defense.  They have a classic stretch 4 in Aldridge and they’ll run a lot of P&R with LaMarcus popping to open space to shoot his feathery jumper.  The Lakers will need strong rotations tonight and will need to help the helper when the guard comes off the screen and our big man is out helping.  Portland will run this P&R with a variety of guards so the Lakers need to be prepared for all of the different tendencies of their players.  Miller loves to turn the corner and use his physicality to get into the lane.  Bayless will shoot the jumper coming off the screen, but he’s also an explosive player and will look to turn the corner and/or split our defenders when he comes off the screen.  Fernandez is a Ginobili type that has an all around game and will also both shoot or turn the corner in their screen game.  Fernandez is also a crafty passer and will find the open man if you over help on him.  The Blazers will also look to post up Andre Miller whatever PG is guarding him so our bigs are going to need to be cognizant of him on the block while also recovering to rebound.

Where you can watch: 7:00 pm start time out West, on KCAL channel 9.  Also on ESPN Radio 710am.


Darius Soriano

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264 responses to Preview & Chat: The Portland Trailblazers

  1. I love the Lakers, but seriously, Farmar is one of the worst defensive decision makers in the NBA.

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  2. Yup the portland announcers wanted Rudy to take out Phil. You heard that right.

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  3. I can’t help it – every time Sasha puts together a nice stretch, I’m extremely enticed about the possibilities.

    Argopile: Yeah, he was hoping that Rudy would take Phil out. It’s totally insane? I mean, some things are said in “good fun” and all, but to publicly wish other people bodily harm? And these guys represent the Portland franchise?

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  4. Lol I know Andreas G. I’m the same way 🙂

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  5. Oh my God, the bandwagon comment is so cheesy…..

    Andreas you won me over, it’s really funny to listen to this guys if you like surreal humor.

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  6. What i loved about that technical foul. as soon as it was called, sasha raised his hand and looked at the bench to see if he was taking the free throw. Get your stats Sasha!!!

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  7. That looked like a clean block by Shannon…

    …Ball don’t lie!!!!

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  8. The Portand announcers must be going crazy after that missed dunk

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  9. Jerryd Bayless is a punk. Purely.

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  10. YEAH! Go Lakers! Do that on a nightly basis, shall we?

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  11. Lamar absolutely cleaning the glass tonight

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  12. Can we have this version of Lamar every game? Plz? O_o

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  13. Wow. They’re really getting big for their britches. They make it personal.

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  14. Pau’s offensive skills are not where they should be, but let’s hope he’s picking his game up by the AS.

    So the streak ends here, and almost by a blow out, you gotta love pro sport, yesterday “we” were almost as bad and heartless as the NJN (or so it seemed, considering the posting here), today winning for the first time in five years at the Rose Garden in a Kobeless game.

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  15. Blazers scored 29 points in the 1st.
    43 in the next 3.

    Look at what playing defense can get you.

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  16. I’m very, very pleased with our boys tonight.

    Especially Mr. Odom.

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  17. On a different topic (nothing amazes me about these announcers anymore):
    Pau has actually been playing the right way, but hasn’t been able to hit anything at all. And I love Lamar’s play – but we shouldn’t be surprised considering it’s a late game;)

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  18. clap clap clap for the lakers. now on to LA to return a favor to the spurs…

    hope there’ll be a sighting…but i’d take an LO sighting too.

    this to me eases the DEN loss the other night considering this POR team was expecting a tired, down, lost LAL team without Kobe and at Portland.

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  19. Best games in 2 years from LO and Shannon. Real gut check for this team/

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  20. Hehehe, Andreas. Yeah Lamar don’t like the waking up early lol. 😀

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  21. i know the game is not over, but there’s a lot to like in this game. yes, portland is a depleted squad, but you have to hope the lakers take this game and use it as a lesson. hats off to lamar, pau, shannon, artest, d fish…

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  22. long time no hear…TACO chant!

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  23. btw, bad shooting by portland helped our cause…

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  24. The Portland streak is over!!!! and without Kobe. Great win after what happened last night

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  25. Please see comment #5 for the most accurate prediction of the day :o)

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  26. Kobe should be offended at how well they’re playing w/o him. Seriously though, how is this bottled up and preserved?

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  27. 24 hours ago, lots of people on this site were saying that the Lakers would lose every game without Kobe. Funny what a difference a day makes.

    But I am prepared for the “Blazers are depleted, we should beat them like this even without Kobe” comments.

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  28. dave in hillsboro February 6, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Zephid, there are good people in Portland, just like there are good people in LA. I can say that with confidence because I’ve lived for extended periods in both places (22 years in LA, 7 years in Oregon, 2 of them in Portland). But the Blazers announcers are terrible, which is actually too bad for Blazers fans. They’re the ones, after all, who have to listen to these guys for every game, and don’t think Blazer fans aren’t aware of how bad these guys are.

    Anyway, I said it yesterday, and I’ll reiterate today: the silver lining was that the Lakers get to win in Portland. And it’s about damn time. Take a moment to relish the end of this losing streak in the Rose Garden. The guys played well tonight and totally earned it.

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  29. “Door is closed, the lights are out the butters getting hard and the jello is jiggling!”

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  30. Lol at the subdued (finally) nature of the portland announcers. GJ Lakers!

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  31. I hope we meet these punks in the playoffs …

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  32. ray,

    Haven’t you noticed? Lakers don’t lose three straight games in a row. So, with or without Kobe, this is already a given, even if it’s in Portland or some icy place in Antarctica. If they play with a 2-game losing streak, they automatically win the next game.

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  33. Bynum did not get injured in Memphis, We beat the BobCats and now we have won in Portland for the 1st time in 5 years, Great season so far.

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  34. I tip my hat off to you Pig, as you are on it, care to give us the lottery wining numbers?

    Anything on Bynum?

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  35. Lakers had great ball movement tonight. I counted only 9 Pick and roll plays and only 4 Iso plays. They used the offensive set most of the time. Pau Gasol didn’t shoot well, but the results were pretty good when someone in the post touched the ball.

    I would be completely OK with Kobe sitting out another game (lets get him healthy). But what are the odds he won’t sit against the Spurs?

    Maybe the Lakers will make it out of the first round after all!!!

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  36. LJAY,

    I suppose I should’ve bought a ticket. The Lakers deserve the props for backing me up.

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  37. @Mark,

    damn it, why did I watch??

    haha.

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  38. I can’t wait to hear what kind of negative comments are going to come now…

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  39. Where can I go to hear Jacksons post game live? Espn 710 is some BS about football right now – links?

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  40. Finally the streak ends, congrats to our bench for finally showing up.

    Bring on those old Spurs.

    Have no doubt we’ll win another title this year.

    Gonna B another 3peat

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  41. pb,

    Like, “Kobe is the reason we are losing in Portland”?

    _____________________

    I guess the wildcard of the Lakers is they only do good when they face adversity.
    And the first adversity is Kobe being out.
    This is called “inspirational basketball”. When your star player is out, you give all out that game. What’s harder is to maintain playing “inspired basketball”…. especially with these Laker squad….

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  42. i know game is not over, but there’s a lot to like in this game. yes, portland is a depleted squad, but you have to hope that the guys take this game and use it as a lesson. hats off to lamar, pau, shannon, artest, d fish…

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  43. What’s the word on Bynum’s status for the Spurs game?

    There is simply a different flow to the offense with Lamar/Pau up front.

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  44. So…. any news on bynum? And where can a guy in WA catch the post-game stuff?

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  45. LO is becoming this dynasty’s horry.

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  46. #244 Argopile
    try this link. It is the local station that carries the Lakers road games and they usually have some post game interviews

    http://cbs2.com/lakers

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  47. I guess we now know that we play a lot better without……

    Bynum

    We played a depleted team and we still had Lamar, Pau, and Artest. 3 stars to their 1. lets not go nuts. This is not a big win to me. Im sorry. And Im really worried about Gasol. He doesn’t have the same athleticism he had last season and hasn’t been as effective in the post. As long as we have Kobe and Drew healthy we will be fine Im sure. It would also be a bonus if Fisher got himself suspended again… for the rest of the season.

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  48. Why is there so much negativity towards Fisher? He does all the things the Lakers ask of him. He hits his threes when we REALLY need them. He plays ok, if not good, defense. And he runs the offense rather well when Kobe isn’t trying to go 1 on 5.

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  49. LMAO Aaron. You should plant a gun in Fish’s locker.

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  50. You know every time bynum gets hurt he acts like its no big deal and then his doctors get to tell him how horrible it really is. I’m hoping that he is right about it this time.

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  51. Some interesting Laker facts against Portland: 6 players scored in double figures; almost every player had an offensive rebound; no player had more than 15 shot attempts; there were 24 assists.

    Players changed their roles: Derek was great and displayed more inspirational leadership on both ends; Ron took on more offensive responsibilities; Shannon played Kobe’s role; Pau did a little of everything–and Lamar was a vacuum cleaner on the boards–and honorary team facilitator.

    Team defense became more and more stifling as the game progressed. As Lamar said, it was a total team victory.

    It was a shame that Kobe was not even on the sidelines watching . . . .

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  52. Wow missed the game, can’t believe I missed breaking the Rose Garden curse without Kobe or Drew. 22 boards for Odom? Way to stick it to Juwan Howard.

    Kind of sad that our standards have sunk so low that a 2-4 game becomes a “good” game for Sasha. But he may have done non-box-score things I didn’t see.

    Happy with the win. Ideally, playing without Kobe will force guys like Lamar to put their big boy pants on and get to work without a safety net. Then when Kobe returns, he (hopefully) won’t have to shoot as much.

    Out of curiosity, did we run the triangle more with Kobe out?

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  53. At least we have the All Star break to rest our players and see what happens next with the injuries, yeah, I hope Bynum’s swelling goes down without a hitch this time. It is bad enough that we are not in sync with the Triangle offense, but also seem to have some bad injuries at the same time.

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  54. also note, this was on the second night of a Back2back at Portland, they didnt have their best guy as we didnt have ours, we played our best collective game so far this year. and we beat portland @portland. Kobe along with Phil and the other coaches know what they are doing. I had a feeling he would sit this game out, and hopefully he will sit the whole week along with the all-star game to be ready and fresh for the end the season a be primed for the playoffs. This was a Great win, Enjoy it today, and lets take this one game at time!. Go Lakers -Sweet #16 coming this June!

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  55. Also, it’s not just the Portland announcers. Dave at BE (who is a great blogger) wanted to give Howard a “medal” for putting Drew out with a hip bruise.

    I just don’t understand this wishing-harm-on-other-players (or coaches, in the announcers’ case). Even in jest. Do you have that much of an inferiority complex, to cheer when opposing players are in pain?

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  56. @Snoopy,

    we ran a set offense most of the night. very few P&R. But still not enough putting it into the post to set things up.

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  57. GREAT overall game… I would love to see more of this team’s play (hungry, focused, and willing to share the ball instead of hoisting up PUJITs) incorporated when Kobe and Andrew are on the court… AND Lamar Odom should eat chicken and waffles EVERY DAY!

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  58. Big win tonight. Not gonna lie; as soon as Ireland announced Kobe wasn’t going to play I thought it was going to be a slaughter. But as soon as the game started, I realized that no one player was going to dominate the ball, that the Lakers might take a “us against the world” mentality, instead of just placating to Kobe’s greatness. Don’t get me wrong, Kobe being out is not a long term good thing, but maybe, just maybe, this will force the Lakers to get back to business, focus on defense and allow the ball to go inside more often. Granted, Portland was missing alot of starters, but a win is a win.

    I guess the sky really isn’t falling after all. 😉

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  59. Quite a game. Quite a ride from last night to tonight. A couple thoughts…

    – Kobe’s been hurt, but he chooses now to actually take (in)action and sit out. Has it gotten markedly worse? Is it a good time to maximize a break as it is near the All-Star break? Is this a plan so the FO can better analyze the roster in the final days of trading season? Maybe several of the above?

    – Teams always ride a “high” when the alpha dog goes out and sometimes they can even sustain the energy. I think this is just what the Doctor ordered for this squad. Players can better define themselves and when Kobe returns they’ll all be better for it. Of course if we go on a 5 game skid… well, never mind all that.

    – Some interesting stats on this site lately. Especially the examples showing how poor our outside shooting is (particularly when compared to the Cavs). If we only had 2006-07 Sascha or even someone who plays him on TV.

    – It seems to me when the Lakers play teams that have no size, Bynum and Gasol can really dominate (assuming the damn team plays inside out), but when the Lakers face a team with fair-to-good size the “two towers” seem to get burned. Especially teams with guys that are big enough to D them up, but quick enough to go around them on offense. Between the two slow towers and old man river on the perimeter and Kobe’s freelancing the Lakers defense seems damn sieve-like at times.

    – I like the Lakers trotting out one of the big guys or the other. I think tonight might be a pretty good example of why.

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  60. My favourite stat of the night: Blazers with TWO offensive boards all game. Let’s hit the glass like this every game.

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  61. 250 Warren- My brother and I came up with an idea like that of our own. Take Sharapova for randsom and tell Sasha he has to shoot 45% from 3pt land on at least 6 attempts a night if he ever wants to see her again. I don’t see any holes in that plan… okay maybe a couple.

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  62. That was the most satisfying win since Boston. Defeating Boston would have meant more if we had not lost the next game, but this game just was so gratifying. Watching the guys work together, Lamar just manhandle Portland’s front and ShamWOW playing something similar to the triangle was fantastic. I especially liked the way Morrison contributed tonight.

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