From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Defense. Take away the first half problems securing the glass, and the Lakers did a nice job against the Blazers. Portland was limited to 38.6 percent shooting on the night, in three of the four quarters failed to score more than 20 points, and only notched only 32 in the second half. Once Nicolas Batum, who went off for 19 points on eight-for-10 shooting in the first half, cooled off, Portland didn’t have any viable options. LaMarcus Aldridge, playing as well as any big in the league over the last few months, had 18 points on 17 shots, as the Lakers limited him to only three trips to the line. Andre Miller, Brandon Roy, and Rudy Fernandez were a combined nine-for-36.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: There’s no question but that Andrew Bynum has been the prime mover behind the Lakers’ defensive surge since the All-Star break. Earlier today, however, league schoolmarms advised him that, as sanction for his Friday night war-crimes against Michael Beasley, his services would be neither required nor permitted in the Lakers’ next two games. This left Drew’s teammates to face the Portland Trail Blazers tonight with a Bynum-sized hole in their defense and left us to wonder whether this was the moment the Lakers’ month-long roll would get knocked off course. Happily, it was not that moment. A second-half defensive clampdown catalyzed a late comeback that ended with an 84 to 80 Laker victory, their 12th in 13 dates since All-Star Weekend.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: It is customary for Phil Jackson to give his players time to themselves on the bench while he stands out on the court alone with his clipboard early in timeouts. He’ll then approach the bench before play resumes and face his players, showing them what he has doodled on a board under the names of who will be staying in or entering the game. This time, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher were on their feet while their Lakers teammates remained clustered by the bench. It was early in a timeout, but it was an important timeout in an important game that the Lakers had done a lot to lose and now needed to do a little to win.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Tugging at his jersey, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant yelled out to no one in particular. He high-fived courtside fans. He pumped his fist in delight. And he stared out to the 18,997 at Staples Center with the signature glare that defines his intensity and competitiveness. But Bryant appeared angry, even more so than usual, after drilling what he called “my shot” — a baseline jumper over Portland’s Brandon Roy that gave the Lakers a five-point lead with 32.9 seconds remaining. Afterward, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson remained coy concerning Bryant’s emotions, saying, “It was just normal. You mean pulling his jersey over his head and running up and down the court was animated?” It became apparent, however, Bryant needed to let out all the frustration about the elements surrounding the Lakers’ 84-80 victory Sunday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: It sure seemed as if the game took place in Portland, with the dour weather lingering glumly outdoors and the Trail Blazers sticking it to the Lakers indoors. But Kobe Bryant had seen enough, his sprained ankle, sore shoulder and stiff neck all to be mentally discarded in the fourth quarter. He shrugged off an off-target night, a string of poor shooting games and a salivating Trail Blazers team in an 84-80 Lakers victory Sunday at Staples Center. It’s hardly surprising that Bryant’s involved in a gritty victory, but this time he added a rare touch, high-fiving a courtside fan and releasing some steam as he yanked hard on his jersey after a 14-foot fade-away meant a five-point lead with 32.9 seconds left.