Preview and Chat: The Portland Trailblazers

Darius Soriano —  February 23, 2011 — 139 Comments

Records: Lakers 39-19 (3rd in West), Trailblazers 32-24 (5th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.7 (2nd in NBA), Trailblazers 108.1 (12th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.0 (9th in NBA), Trailblazers 107.2 (15th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers:Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Trailblazers: Andre Miller, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Pryzbilla
Injuries: Lakers: Matt Barnes & Theo Ratliff (out); Trailblazers:Greg Oden & Marcus Camby (out), Brandon Roy (questionable)

The Lakers Coming in:We’ve been down this path before: Lakers stumble some, Lakers look great for a few games, rinse, repeat. Is this time different? A cynic would say undoubtedly say no, but I’m not so sure. The Lakers seem poised to make a push as there are now less than 25 games on their schedule before the playoffs start. And with the team nearing full health, there are no longer any excuses to meander through the regular season andrisk further slippage in a Western playoff seeding race that will be tight at the top. Plus, with the recent trades of Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams, the lower seeds are setting up in a way where the Lakerswould surely like to be in the #2 slot in order to find the most favorable match up available while still having home court in the 2nd round. Essentially, the incentive to finish the season well is too strong for the Lakers to rest on their laurels after winning a couple of games convincingly.

The Trailblazers Coming in: Somewhat quietly, the Blazers have moved up to 5th in the West on the strength of their 6 game win streak before the all-star break. They’re showing great chemistry through another rash of injuries and are clearly operating as a team that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

The key to their strong play has been LaMarcus Aldridge. The all-star snub has simply been playing out of his mind, averaging 29 points a game in February and rebounding well too (though his 8 boards a game this month are slightly down from the 10 a game he averaged in January). Aldridge has consistently flashed his feathery jumper and done great work on the offensive glass (grabbing nearly 4 a game this year) to be the offensive anchor for a team that’s sorely missed the once great Brandon Roy on the wing.

Speaking of Roy, he’s listed as questionable tonight but could very easily suit up to play. After going through another surgery (this time on both knees), Roy is looking to come back this year and make an impact to help his team make a playoff push of their own. The only question now is what role he’ll take on and how coach Nate McMillan deploys him as the Blazers have been getting strong contributions from Wesley Matthews all year (16.5 points per game this year, nearly 19 a game in February) and don’t want to disrupt the groove that he has going. So, it’s a delicate line that McMillan has to walk as his team is playing as well as it has all year but are looking to mix in the player that’s been the face of the franchise for the past several seasons. How this gets managed will likely be a major factor in how this team plays going into the post-season.

Trailblazers Blogs: Blazer’s Edge has long done great work covering this team. Portland Roundball Society also does fine work that’s worth your time. Check out both sites.

Keys to game: A back to back game, on the road, in an arena that the team has traditionally struggled in. If there’s a game that I see as a real test for the Lakers it’s tonight’s match up with the Blazers. If the team is able to clear this hurdle and come out with a victory, I’ll be very encouraged.

 To get it done, the Lakers will need to play a discipline game as the Blazers aren’t a team that really hurts themselves. They’re a top 10 in terms of taking care of the ball and play at the third slowest pace in order to promote a methodical, controlled attack. Aldridge and Andre Miller operate well in the half court and the team plays to their strengths by running them both into the post to force the defense to either help down or leave them single covered where they can create good looks. So, right out of the gate Gasol and Fisher will be tested on defense and the onus will be on them to slow down an offensive attack geared to put them in disadvantageous positions. Whether or not they’re up to the challenge will go a long way in determining who wins this game.

The Lakers can’t get too caught focusing too much on just these two players, though. As mentioned earlier, Matthews has turned into quite the reliable scorer and Nic Batum is also a player with the potential to knock down shots from long range or put the ball on the floor and attack the rim. Paying more than just partial attention to these players is vital towards getting the needed defensive stops.

On offense, the Lakers face a bit of a tough task solely based off match ups. Aldridge (length) and Pryzbilla (size) offer direct counters to the strengths of Gasol and Bynum. Plus, with Batumon the wing the Blazers also have a very good perimeter defender to match up with Kobe. Tonight, then, execution of the Lakers’ sets takes on an even greater importance than normal. The ball must move to the open man and the players must cut and screen well in order to create the space and passing angles needed to execute those passes. The last thing the Lakers need is to go one on one against long defenders with the rest of the Blazers’ D ready to pounce once a player commits to shooting.

The other major key to this game will be rebounding. The Lakers andBlazers represent two of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league so both teams will have to protect their defensive glass as the other team crashes the paint hard hunting for extra possessions. For the Blazers, this may be a difficult task as they’re one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the league ranking 27th out of 30 teams in defensive rebound rate. Meanwhile the Lakers rank 18th (but have been better than that since Bynum returned) so whichever team is able to protect their own backboards will have a leg up in winning this game.

In the end, this is a contest that isn’t a must win but is a win that will go a long way towards stabilizing this team. On twitter, Magic Johnson is calling for a minor trade to shake up the team and prepare them for their finishing kick while I’m sure the current players would much rather have this same group stay together so they can finish what they started back in training camp. But, the best way for the players to get their wish is to play well and win games like this one tonight. Lets see if they can do it.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on KCAL. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710am.

Darius Soriano

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139 responses to Preview and Chat: The Portland Trailblazers

  1. Darius do you have any updates on who will be available tonight given the pending trade idea with Gerald Wallace for Portland.

  2. #1. That deal is not done yet. So, I actually think that if any guys are held out of the game, that will give us a good indication of who might be in the deal or how close it is to being consumated (like how Carl Landry was held out of last night’s Kings game because he ended up being traded to the Hornets after the tip of that contest).

  3. Darius,
    I’m not so sure the Lakers have turned a corner. I’m more of a talent guy then an on and off switch type of guy. I don’t see the Lakers getting better just because they are foccused all of the sudden. There is no reason to think the Lakers will be more consistent. Who is going to play better? Maybe Bynum is going to indeed get his athleticism back and set the Lakers apart. But an average back up SF (Barnes) is not going to make a significant difference despite how bad Luke Walton is.

  4. It’d be nice if Artest remembered how to play offense. Not asking for superstar stuff, just … something.

    Has he really aged that fast? I thought the jumper was the last thing to go …

  5. Aaron,
    Your philosophy of talent always winning out while consistently disregarding chemistry and how a team fits is baffling. Of course talent is needed, so I won’t argue that point. But the Lakers have plenty of talent so I don’t see this as an issue. What they’ve needed is a consistent approach and all their guys healthy at the same time. That’s been the missing aspect of this season and if you haven’t seen that then I’m not sure what team you’re watching.

  6. To elaborate Magic’s trade idea, how about we trade one of the Margarita stands at Staples for Adam Morrison’s porn ‘stache?
    Just kidding.

    No offense to Magic, but I have a feeling that he’s talking out of his posterior. sadly, no trades are coming.

  7. >the Lakers have plenty of talent

    I’ll ask this again, since it elicited zero response last time..

    where’s all this talent after the top 3 or 4?

    isn’t it time to admit that all the stars (no pun) were aligned last year, and this year is another year older plus a whole bunch of other teams have upgraded.

  8. #7. When I say plenty of talent, I mean the top 4 guys – guys who are some of the best in the league at their respective positions. Can we name more than 2-3 players at SG better than Kobe? How about 2-3 better than Pau at PF or Bynum at C or at 6th man when looking at Odom.

    Every team is contstructed in a way where there are core group of very good/elite players and then role players surrounding them. Not once have *I* ever claimed the Lakers role players are fantastic, but they’re good role players and they (theoretically) fit what the Lakers need.

    The fact is that the Lakers have plenty of talent to win when looking at how nearly every championship team has been built in this league’s history. Am I missing something? Do they need all-stars are every position in order to claim that they’ve got plenty of talent? Is there another team that has *more* talent than the Lakers? Maybe Boston or the Spurs or the Celtics or the Heat? Okay, that’s the list of contenders for the title. I’ll happily take my chances against any of those teams when it comes to a 7 game series.

    So yeah, I stand by the claim that the team has plenty of talent.

  9. tsuwm,
    Bryant, Gasol, Odom, Bynum – huge amount of talent if they are playing to their potentials. That means Bryant staying within the systems (O and D) and trusting his teammates, Gasol being aggressive, Odom keeping his focus, and Bynum willing to concentrate on rebounds and defense. If that happens, the rest of the team is plenty talented to fit in around them, and they are unbeatable. Of course, that is a huge IF, because I don’t think more than 3 of those 4 have ever happened simultaneously. But yes, they have plenty of talent.

  10. Darius, I agree with everything you are saying I just feel there is one thing this team is really missing and that’s someone who is reliable at the SF spot.
    I know Gasol, Kobe, and Fisher will be there when it matters as they always are (Lamar too depending upon the matchup). I can only pray Bynum will be too and not be just a body in the middle because the Lakers need more than that (I think last night is exactly what he needs to do more of, control the glass and block shots).
    Really when it comes down to it I just don’t trust Artest and his play. Last year there was more wiggle room for the Lakers when it came to having HCA and having superior talent to most teams in the league and they could handle Artest being MIA at times. Unfortunately this year I just don’t see that being the case, that’s why I think getting Matt Barnes back and in the swing of things is so crucial because if things aren’t going well for Artest in the playoffs Phil needs to let Matt get the majority of the minutes. We know what Matt will consistently bring, we just don’t know what Artest will bring other than consistently bad offense, especially considering his Defense has been inconsistent this year. I too feel this team has the talent to win it all (I going into the year felt this has been the most talented Lakers team out of all the title runs), but the little room for error and inconsistent Artest worries me.

  11. Excited about beating the Frail Blazers in their house tonight.

    So excited I thought I’d pass along some bits of joy for yester-year featuring our very own Bean Bryant giving the Blazers the biz.

  12. The real slippage this season has been on the defensive side of the ball. When Bynum plays with the same energy he played with last night on the defensive side of the ball, the Lakers are really tough to beat. Last night and the ASG have me hopeful that Kobe’s legs are nearing 100 percent. Hopefully, that means his presence on D will return to the level that we have come to expect from him. Artest…I’m really nervous about. Come on Ron Ron, we need you to lock back in.

  13. If Bynum plays with anywhere near that defensive intensity as he did last night then the Lakers will be in good shape come playoff time. That was shades of 20yr old Bynum before his first knee injury.

  14. Lakers8884,
    “Last year there was more wiggle room for the Lakers when it came to having HCA and having superior talent to most teams in the league and they could handle Artest being MIA at times”

    A healthy Bynum more than makes up for the dropoff in Artest’s play.

  15. Exhelodrvr. Bynum being healthy is only half the battle. Bynum can’t just be on the floor and sleep walk like he does half the time. He has an issue of not going all out on defense and rebounding at times. I don’t want to say he lacks effort at times but it does look like it. Last night was a perfect example of how I think he needs to play with the exception of needing more scoring come playoff time. So in theory what you are saying is correct but Bynum has yet to prove to me he will be there at all times not just here and there. This is also evidenced by Phil not playing him in crunch time, I don’t think Phil trusts him more than Lamar and we need Bynum to be that guy on the floor because of his size (not a knock against Lamar)

    Also Artest tends to get more shots than Bynum does just because of how the system works, so I don’t think it’s so easy to say that a healthy Bynum can remove the need of what Artest needs to do.

  16. Darius,

    Where exactly would you rank Kobe among SGs and likewise Pau among PFs?

  17. 16, I’ll respond for Darius. Kobe is #1 SG (Wade has not overtaken him yet, mostly due to the fact that Wade does not have a consistent jumper), and I would say Pau is 3rd among PF’s behind Amar’e and Dirk.

    3, I would say that “average” (Barnes) is going to be a lot better than “terrible” (Walton and Artest).

  18. 15) Lakers8884,
    That’s why I wrote “Bynum willing to concentrate on rebounds and defense” in post 9

  19. Exhelodrvr, I said the same thing in my first post (#10), but playing defense and rebounding doesn’t make up for Artest’s inability to knock down jumpers or even be a threat on the offensive side. Like people have said on here all season, the Lakers inability to knock outside shots down has enabled teams to consistently pack it in on defense against them. Having a SF who can be a scoring threat at times (hopefully Matt) will only make Bynum and Gasol’s job easier. So a healthy Bynum really only goes so far and especially against more athletic and versatile teams like Miami where Lamar will get more minutes. My main point is that the importance of a reliable SF cannot be overstated.

    As I write this the Spurs are shooting 12-17 from 3 point range, insane.

  20. 19) The Bynum from last night makes the Lakers so devastating on defense that it does make up for inconsistency from the SF on offense.

  21. 21, We’ll disagree on that one. Lamar and Pau when focused can dominate the glass just as easily (Finals games 6&7 of last year for example). You can win the battle of the glass all you want but you still gotta score points (like Artest bailing the Lakers out in game 7 offensively). When the Lakers are consistently struggling to score points and even get above the 80 point mark at times, a SF that can knock down shots would be dynamite. I don’t mean to downplay the game last night but the Hawks didn’t really show up and they have been blown out several times (I’m talking 30 point blowouts even at home). I need to see Bynum do that consistently and against a team like the Thunder Sunday.

  22. tsuwm @7 not to pile on, but I also think Artest has been pretty talented in the past and was crucial last year. He may still be a key player in the playoffs (though this season so far has been frightening). I would also add that Barnes is a pretty talented player as well. Not an all star, but in terms of a piece to fit in around stars he is a pretty good player.

  23. Man, what can you say about the Spurs from deep? Just some crazy numbers.

  24. Apparently we could’ve had Kirk Hinrich for an old PG, a rookie and a draft pick . . . just sayin’.

  25. Zephid: Granted I am a Pau fan-boy, but Amare better than Pau?

    Between Dirk and Pau, I think it’s a question of apples and oranges. If your team needs scoring and shooting, Dirk’s your man – if your team needs a post-presence and passing, Pau would be the better choice.

    But Amare and Pau? All Amare does is score. He doesn’t rebound well, and his D is questionable to say the least. I love Amare’s game, but Pau owns him any day of the week.

  26. AusPhil, that’s what scares me the most about the Spurs, they have great shooters and they know how to use them. Especially since LA has trouble defending the 3 point line on a consistent basis. That last game they played in LA they weren’t hitting the shots they normally do, I specifically remember guys like Manu and Neal missing wide open jumpers they typically don’t.

  27. The 3 point shooting of the Spurs is definitely a concern to me as well. I don’t want to think about “ducking” a certain team, but the Lakers would be happy if someone else got the Spurs in the 2nd round and knocked them off!

    The combination of Parker’s penetration and the shooting that they are getting from Jefferson, Many, Neal, Bonner et. al. is a perfect storm for LA. We’re always talking about how we can’t stop quick point guards and struggle to guard the 3 point line… not a good combo for us!

  28. 24 – It’s not that easy. The Wizards were enamored with Jordan Crawford before the draft and still value him highly, they wouldn’t take any of our available players and our lower draft pick.

    I’d take Pau over Amare, but only if we’re talking about Pau at his best. Pau seems to have these long periods every season where he recedes and becomes a shell of himself, and that Pau isn’t nearly as consistent as Amare (although definitely more skilled). I’d have laughed at the question last year, where Pau annihilated Amare in the WCF, but Amare’s shown a lot of surprising maturity and leadership with the Knicks. He’s closed the gap a bit, it’s not as clear-cut as it was last year.

  29. I’m not sure why people even want Kirk at this point anymore, he is an aging player who is mostly average at the things he does. He didn’t even leave a lasting impact in Washington where he was brought in to mentor John Wall. We all complain that the Lakers need youth and athleticism and those are two things quickly evaporating in Kirk’s career.

  30. #16. I’d say that Kobe and Wade are 1a and 1b and essentially see them as equals depending on circumstance. I do prefer Kobe because, as Zephid notes, he’s a more polished player that has a better jumper and a more refined offensive game. But Wade’s ability to drive, get to the FT line and hit the mid-range jumper can be utterly dominant.

    As for Pau, I’d say that it’s a toss up between him and Dirk but I prefer the post player that can hit the jumper rather than the jump shooter that can sometimes post up. Just my preference. Dirk is amazing though. For a guy that handles the ball as much as he does and has the offense run through him so much to have such a low turnover rate is pretty amazing. And his shooting percentages essentially make him a fantastic closer at the FT line and as a legit option to cut a three point deficit at any point in the game. As for Amar’e, he trails Pau in my eyes because basketball is two sides of the floor. Amar’e is a dominant offensive player and is a good (not great) rebounder. And I’ll even give him credit as a weak side shot blocker that can protect the rim as a help defender. BUT, when you look at his individual defense, he’s miles behind Gasol. PER against isn’t a perfect metric, but when comparing Amar’e to Pau it’s not even close. As a PF, Pau has a PER against of 6.5(!) and at C it’s 15.0. For Amar’e his PER against as a PF is 20.0 and at C it’s 20.3. I mean, that’s not a comparison it’s a thrashing and our guy comes out on top.

  31. 29 – Wow, that’s an enormous difference. I think there’s something to be said for the way Amare’s handled the pressure and scrutiny of being the team’s first option, however (this coming from Amare’s biggest critic prior to this year; I used to prefer Boozer to Amare, and thought Riley was crazy for even considering him).

    Keep in mind when Pau was in Memphis, he was an OK (not close to great) rebounder and a poor defender. If memory serves, in Kurt’s first post when we first acquired Pau, he did an interview with a Grizzlies blog (3SOB, I believe) and they warned us about Pau’s rebounding in traffic, in particular. Things changed. I believe Amare’s defensive stats would be completely different if he took Pau’s place on our team, with our coaching staff. So much changes with context. My opinion, though.

    And I’ll admit I’m fickle. Last year I said in several posts that I’d take Pau over Dirk and old Duncan. Pau’s play for the last few months has undoubtedly dampened my man-crush a little.

  32. To the NBA League Pass’ers via DirecTV: what channel is the game on tonight where you live? I can’t find it anywhere and I can’t find it listed on the guide. We’re not on national TV are we? We are playing in Portland right now no?

  33. It really amazes me how great of a player Lamarcus Aldridge has turned into. I played against him in a Tournament in Fort Myers Florida in high school (we beat his team by 20+) and I never thought he would become the player he is today. He should have been an all-star this year over Duncan.

  34. It’s good that Kobe’s hitting the boards and passing well, because the shots sure aren’t falling early!

  35. Ouch Shannon. That hurt my pride to see the 2-position-and-pine gifted from Phil.

  36. Rudy Fernandez is such an exciting player to watch

  37. 25, my criterion for judging PF’s was the Bill Simmons trade value method: if the Knicks wanted to trade Amar’e for Pau, straight up, I don’t think the Lakers would hesitate at all. Defense and rebounding can be taught, and Amar’e is such a tremendous athlete that I’m sure with the right coach he could become a strong defensive presence. As for his rebounding, that’s all about desire and reinforcement from coaching, so I think if he had someone like Phil or even Fisher pushing him to get rebounds every moment of every day, he’d do it.

    I’d also agree with Snoopy about Pau. He has long stretches of ineffectiveness (whether it’s because the Lakers refuse to pass him the ball is debatable), whereas Dirk is consistently good. Again, defense can be taught, and I don’t think Dirk’s defense is as bad as everyone makes it out to be, plus he’s a much improved rebounder compared to his first few years.

  38. Darius,
    All chemistry is, is how the kind of talent you have compliments each other. It’s not a secret. If you have players that are one dimensional and can only do the same thing… Your “Chemistry” won’t be very good. I think the Lakers have a lot of talent. The second most in the league. But the only way they are going to play better than they have (I think they have played well so far this year) is if they get an increase in talent. The only way that happens is if Bynum regains his old form. Just my opinion.

  39. Wow Ron with an incredible post move…..

  40. Lakers8884

    The hook-pass from the block is a post move best left for Jr. high basketball games.

  41. Do we lead the league in turnovers?? Seriously. I’m sure we don’t, but it certainly feels like it some games. Maybe it’s because the opponent seems to score off of EVERY single TO we have! Annoying…

  42. Is anyone else having to listen to the Blazers’ announcers right now?

  43. noles – It sure does feel like that in some games. I think it’s bacause the Lakers seem to go on turnover “runs”, where we string 2 or 3 together.

    And like you say, the other team often seems to score from them. Hurts even more when it’s back-to-back offensive foul calls.

  44. 41. I don’t know who the old man is but he is beyond horrible at announcing.

  45. AusPhil, that’s the problem. Turnovers are bad enough, but because our transition D is susceptible, teams seem to score way too often off of our TO’s. I’d be interested in knowing what percentage of our turnovers are converted into points for the opponent.

  46. I was the drunk Laker fan that vomited on the floor.

  47. Well, as badly as the Lakers are playing and as…uneven as the officiating is, being down only 6 at the half doesn’t seem that bad.

    However, these Portland announcers are so bad I almost miss Joel Myers. Almost.

  48. So what do we take out of that first half? I have issues with Bynum only taking 2 shots in the half, but I’m just looking at numbers. For those of you actually watching, is he getting position? Has Kobe needed to take 15 shots (well, 14 since that last heave is not really an issue)? If we cut down turnovers, would we be in the lead?

  49. 37

    Why would the Lakers be so eager to trade Pau for Amare? Pau is far superior in every aspect of the game that doesn’t involve scoring, and his natural game suits the Lakers’ needs far better as well. I’m not saying the Knicks would do the deal either but I really don’t see why the Lakers would jump at that offer.

    Dirk on the other hand… I don’t think he’s as complete a player as Pau, but if I need someone to be my number 1 option I’d definitely give him the edge.


    Mike Rice. He’s not as boisterous as Tommy Heinsohn but just as biased.

  50. Joel is that Tommy guy the announcer for the Celtics?

  51. Yeah, Tommy Heinsohn is the Celtics’ “special comments” guy. And has been one of the loudest, most 1-sided commentators in the NBA since as long as I can remember watching basketball (1983-ish). And he just gets crazier as he gets older!

    Back to the game – you know it’s been a strange half when Fish is the only starter with a positive +/-, and Ron is the only starter in double figures!

  52. 50. Okay yeah I didn’t know his name but the sound of his voice along with his comments perfectly describes his color commentary

  53. My other bad experiences with homer announcers are Sacramento and, suprisingly, the Bucks.

    Edit: And San Antonio.

    2nd Edit: Pau?!

  54. John Morris – Although the Bucks’ guys gave me one of my favourite commentary moments when Kobe hit that buzzer beater in Milwaukee in Jan 2010. One of them just yelling “miss it!” as he took the shot.


  55. Pau with the Shawn Bradley type pass

    Artest in the open court is priceless basketball, it’s like a mosquito flying into a bug zapper, you know it isn’t going to end well.

  56. In a weird turn of events, 3-point shooting is actually keeping us in this game.

  57. 61-59 baby!!!!

  58. And ron artest is back!

  59. Kobe is officially feeling it this quarter

  60. Wow, I don’t think I’d think long before rejecting an offer to get Amare for Pau. Not even a second. If I was a Knick, I don’t think I’d think twice before accepting.

    Awfully quiet regarding the trade of Deron… now I’m really starting to count the amount of resources we’ll have at the end of this season and the next, just to see if we can lure CP3, Dwill or Dhoward through free agency (not a trade speculation! a free agency speculation! don’t edit 😉

  61. Anybody else had trouble posting a few minutes ago?

  62. i like seeing caracter get some minutes. not too many, but i like his energy. And if our bigs get in foul trouble as LO did tonight, its good for him to have some confidence.

  63. lakers going into 4th quarter, 8-13 from three point land. In other news, many people witnessed pigs flying throughout the los angeles area.

  64. Just quietly – is it just me or has Lamar been a little flat the last little while? Definitely not getting the consistent numbers that he was up until the ASG break.

    Back to the game, passages like the one where Dante Cunningham grabbed consecutive offensive boards frustrate me. Drew’s certainly not backing up last night’s rebounding efforts with an encore.

  65. Lamar has struggled a bit, but so did the rest of the lakers. As far as tonight, seriously, i don’t know one player that gets as little love from the refs as lamar.

  66. #64. Bynum and the other Laker bigs have been getting caught helping on guards and wings when Blazers’ fun their flex sets. It’s leading to a lot of switching and allowing Blazers’ bigs to sneak in and get O rebounds. LA’s guards need to attack the glass better.

  67. Wow, the Lakers left all of the Portland shooters wide open then, and it cost them a trey.

  68. Every time we have any semblance of a run, Portland counters with an easy layup or 3, usually off an offensive rebound. They need to maintain their composure and chemistry on defense for more than two possessions.

  69. lamar needs to calm his ass down.

  70. Artest has been cash tonight.

    Honestly, why can’t our guys stop with the complaining?! They are not going to give you calls, move on.

    Edit: except I have a bad feeling we won’t win regardless.

  71. There are many contributing factors but watching this game you wouldn’t even realize the Lakers had guys like Bynum, Gasol and Odom on the floor. In a game where they need to be leaving their imprint they have played pretty quietly.

  72. I dont know how to address this without it sounding like I dont like Steve Blake. But here it goes anyway..
    In 17 mins of play, he’s 0-1 from the field. And 1 assist. The guy has to become more aggressive.

  73. #70

    you are 100% correct. This is exactly the type of games the lakers lose the last 3 years.

  74. Portland has been getting a lot of open 3s. Methinks we may be overhelping at times.

  75. Remember when Steve Blake was the answer?

    I can barely remember the question…

  76. Boy, Blake and Bynum have been a real disappointment tonight.

  77. kobe has 6 rebounds thus far. Bynum has 4.

  78. Why does Ron Artest insist on dribbling?

  79. why do we overhelp so goddamn much??? I really cant wait till Barnes is back.

  80. Darius,
    Chemistry isn’t just having the various skillsets; it is more the willingness of players to use their skills in a complementary fashion, and the coaches’ ability to convince them to do so and to put them in the situations and combinations where their talents meshes.

  81. wow shot clock violation out of a timeout…thats…sad.

  82. Ausphil,
    The dropoff in Lamar’s play seemed to coincide with the announcement of the All-Star roster. Wonder if there is a connection?

  83. Could someone please tell me which offense we’re supposed to be running? Thanks.

  84. If the Lakers somehow pull this out, I would almost be tempted to give Ron a pass for his mediocre play thus far this season.

    exhelodrvr – I hadn’t noticed the correlation, but you may well be onto something there.

  85. Artest’s best offensive game of the season by far, too bad other players didn’t step up as well

  86. Ron Artest needs to just lean to the left everytime he shoots threes. I think every time he’s been falling to his left, his shot has fallen. Seriously needs to stop setting his feet.

  87. It is anybody’s game, just great.

  88. That Kobe dude is pretty good

  89. Wow amazing game. I feel sorry for the guys who decided to stop watching the regular season.

  90. OMG, it is a tied game with 4.7 seconds!

  91. Well, maybe Ron will get that pass from me after all. What a time for Aldridge to return to mortal status with those 2 missed inside shots. Now just 5 seconds of defense and we’ve got OT.

  92. One stop, for the love of God


  94. Wow, two amazingly difficult shots by Kobe in a row, two patented Kobe-moves: 1st was the dribble, crossover, between the legs, turn, fake, spin, fade baseline, shoot the ball over a defender’s arms and over the backboard; 2nd was the dribble into the lane, stop, fake once, turn into the defender and throw up a prayer. Guy is a cold-blooded killer.

  95. beat portland!!!!!!!!!!!!! LEts go lakers lets go!

  96. Mike Rice needs to stop whining about foul calls. Especially not when the Blazers are getting the calls all night and have shot about 3 times our free throws.

  97. One of the RARE and I say RARE times this year the Lakers have made a 4th quarter comeback this year.

  98. You’ve gotta be proud of the way we finished that quarter. Now let’s see them maintain what worked for just five minutes.

  99. First basket of OT is so key. Lamar with a beautiful 3.

  100. Artest has been awesome tonight but that was an incredibly bad shot. Almost as bad as Fisher’s PUJIT earlier on.

  101. Followed by the ugliest shot I’ve seen a few years by Ron Artest…

  102. yeah, this is a big game for the lakers in terms of confidence, and getting that championship swag back. the lakers have no business being in overtime tonight, and yet, they played gritty defense down the game and had three straight stops on lamarcus whos been torching them all night.

  103. is artest wearing the old 37 tonight?

  104. Pau ‘n one! and then Kobe with 2 in the hole.

  105. Pau going all black swan in OT.

  106. LMA just cannot guard Pau 1v1. Gasol needs the ball every time down.

  107. For once, guard the damn 3 tonight!!!

    Just one stop…

  108. It’s funny to see that we’ve racked up 13 points in 4.30 of overtime when we could only muster 18 for the entire 12 minutes of the 2nd quarter…

  109. That was a beautiful play off the curl.


  111. One stop and grab the rebound!

  112. Are we running the offense in crunchtime? Last play of OT? What’s going on?!


  113. Pau caught the ball a little too far out on that last post up. Got off a decent shot, luckily Lamar had inside position and both he and Artest fought to get the ball. Then a beautiful play getting Kobe curling into the lane for an easy 6 foot shot. Admittedly I didn’t watch the first 3 quarters, but I’m loving the Laker focus and effort in the 4th and here in OT.

  114. Ball don’t lie…

  115. 117, was just about to type that. Gasol got robbed. Loving that Bryant was so pissed that he was the one the grabbed the rebound.

  116. Sorry, Zephid. I beat you to it! 🙂

  117. Fish with +- of over 20 for the game?

    lakers shooting 61% from the 3?


  118. That was for the Blazers’ announcers. Just perfect. Miller deserved that for his flop job.

  119. Sad Mike Rice makes me so happy.

  120. After a pretty dreadful offensive first half, Kobe ends up looking like a genius.

    Great fight back (which we haven’t seen as often as we’d like this year).

    And welcome back to Ron Artest’s offensive ability.

    (And we end up scoring more in OT than in the 2nd qtr thanks to Kobe’s FTs)

  121. And I’m also loving the MVP chants here.

  122. Great win, I PRAY this game wakes up Artest from his offensive slump. He seemed to just shoot and not think as much as he typically does. If he can give the Lakers half that offensive output come playoff time this team will be just fine.

  123. I had to jinx fish…

  124. 122 – he deserves it though. He totally does. He’s the most irritating announcer in the history of sports. This side of Boston, of course.

  125. Loving the bitterness from the Blazers’ commentators.

  126. Props to Pau for stepping up his D on Aldridge in the 4th quarter and OT. He made him work for post position and forced him away from his pet moves (spin toward the baseline, face up J, drive through the middle, backdoor lob).

    No props to the Portland announcers, as always. Consistently miserable and torturous.

  127. Great Lakers rally for the win in Portland

  128. So that ends our string of no-OT games, right? Or did I miss an OT game…

  129. This is exactly what I think most fans have complained about this year. First of all, we got the W, which is the most important thing. But we really did play a pretty sloppy game with way too many turnovers and defensive lapses.

    However, what we did do was care and play with effort. That’s all you can ask for on a nightly basis. Of course we want to win every game, but if they give maximum effort, the losses are a little bit easier to swallow. But more importantly, with the talent this team has, caring and effort can make up for mistakes a lot of the times like it did tonight.

    Going forward, we still need to cut down on some of the mistakes, especially the TO’s, but I’m glad for these first two games after the break, the team seems to have gotten its fire back. Let’s hope it continues thru the playoffs. Nice, gutsy win tonight!

  130. You missed one harold, we won one earlier this year, against Houston.

  131. mamba said knock you ouuuuut

  132. Lakers showed a ton of grit and determination tonight. They were down by 10 with 5 minutes to go in the 4th quarter! They could’ve easily just thrown in the towel and said “whatever, just one game.” Glad to see them say “Fuck it, we’re winning this game” and have everyone come through in the clutch.

    Pau absolutely dominated LMA on both sides of the ball. On defense, LMA didn’t score in the 4th quarter. On offense, Pau was utterly unstoppable with his combination of fakes and up’n’unders.

    Artest had easily his best game of the season, sinking two huge threes in the 4th quarter that cut into that big deficit.

    Odom made the crucial first basket of OT, and fought for the rebound that really sealed the game.

    And Kobe of course, hit two of the most difficult, clutch shots I’ve seen in a while to force OT. I don’t care what Henry Abbott’s stats say, there’s no other player on the planet that could make those shots.

    On a side note, Derek Fisher was +25!!! How is that possible when all the other starters are only +8. Nice to see Fisher playing well considering Steve Blake has been unavailable…

    Someone tell me when Steve Blake reports to training camp, I’m getting tired of waiting.

  133. Mimsy’s Hubby (Jim C.) February 23, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    It’s true. The Lakers have a pulse. Two quality wins on back-to-backs against playoff opponents.

    This win over the Blazers, when none of the calls were going our way early, Kobe’s shot wasn’t falling early, the Portland crowd was into it and everything seemed to be going wrong, may well count as the best Laker win I’ve witnessed all season.

    Finally, a championship caliber effort from the defending champions.

  134. @Zephid I’ve noticed Blake has been more active the past 2 games in the Sasha Vujacic school of moving your hands and feet faster without actually moving faster. Hey, it’s a start. At least he seems more intense and doesn’t pick up stupid fouls.

  135. Great win! As has been stated, the key is the effort. Not a clean game, but they won with a grit that’s been lacking for most of the year. I recognize this team!

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