Preview and Chat: The Portland Trailblazers

Phillip Barnett —  April 10, 2013

Records: Lakers 41-37 Blazers 33-44
Offensive ratings: Lakers 107.6 Blazers 106.1
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.6 Blazers 108.9
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard
Blazers: Damian Lillard, Sasha Pavlovic, Victor Claver, LaMarcus Aldridge, Meyers Leonard
Injuries: Lakers: Steve Nash, Jordan Hill
Blazers: Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, J.J. Hickson, Elliot Williams

Blazers Blogs: Make sure you check out Portland Roundball Society for all of your Blazers news and analysis.

Keys to game: The Blazers are coming into tonight’s game with a wealth of injuries to some of their key players. Wesley Matthews has had some big games against the Lakers, Nicolas Batum has done a pretty job of defending Kobe over the years when he drew that assignment and J.J. Hickson’s motor could be a problem on the boards on any given night. While it’s never a good thing for an opponent to have injured players, the Lakers have caught the Blazers at the most opportune time considering the battle for 8th place they’re in with the Jazz and the fact that the Rose Garden has always been one of the most difficult places for the Lakers to travel to and get wins.

With all of that being said, this game is still no gimmie and they’ll have to execute on both ends of the floor. Defensively, keeping Damien Lillard out of the paint and close out on shooters. Portland hasn’t been shooting the ball particularly well from deep recently as they’re only at a .264 clip over their last five. Just to make it a point to show how bad they’ve been from 3-point range, that five game stretch includes a 13-23 performance against Utah — and they’re still shooting over 25 percent. But considering that they’re capable of an outlying performance like that, the Lakers cannot allow them to take open shots from deep to ensure that they’re not the next team to get burned by a bad shooting team. Outside of Lillard and shooters, the focal point of the defense should be on LaMarcus Aldridge. The Lakers have done fairly well on Aldridge in the previous three meetings, holding him to 20 points on 18 shots and only 4 rebounds per game. Both Pau and Dwight will have to be willing to close out on his mid range jumper and continue to keep him off the glass.

On the offensive end, the Lakers are going to have to play inside-out. With Hickson out, Meyers Leonard will get the start and won’t be able to hang with Dwight in one-on-one situations. Should Aldridge or Claver help off of their respective man, that will open things up for both Pau and Kobe. Speaking of Pau, it would be wise to continue to feed him in the post as it seems as if his confidence has been rising lately — and should the Lakers get into the post season, having a confident Pau will be awfully beneficial for this team. On the perimeter, Kobe is likely going to be guarded by the likes of Sasha Pavlovic or Victor Claver, and he should be able to exploit those match ups and find the open man should the Blazers double off of him. I’d like to see lots of off-ball movement from the other wing guys and make this banged up Blazers team work as hard as possible on the defensive end.

I do expect the Lakers to win tonight, which would be the first sweep of a back-to-back on the season. It would be nice if they can put Portland away early and give some of the key guys a break, but a win regardless of how it happens is essential if they want to make the playoffs.

Where you can watch: 7:30 pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Phillip Barnett

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146 responses to Preview and Chat: The Portland Trailblazers

  1. Kobe Alert: Wow – 30 points, 50% shooting, 5 Steals, 6 Rebs, 6 Dimes. KB is the first Laker since 1997 (NTQ) to record at least 30/6/6/5. This was Kobe’s 417th game of 30+, and he needs just 12 more to catch Kareem for 4th all time on that list. KB leads the league in 30 point games this year with 33. Against the NOH he also hit his 11,000th FG and joined a list of 5 other HOF names who have done so. Tonight at tip off, he will tie Hakeem in 22nd for all time games. He needs to launch 20 more FGAs to move by Elvin for 4th. Kobes needs 11 more defensive rebounds to equal Rick Mahorn for 58th. He must dish out 62 more helpers to cruise past Sam Cassell into 31st. The game against the Pelicans was the 34th time in KB’s career that he has had 5 or more steals and he is now just 36 thefts behind Isiah Thomas for 14th. MJ is just 756 points away. lil pau, Chearn, R, PurpleBlood (loved the Riles reference) – Let’s get this streak going. Back to backs have been tough this year but I think we are going to get this one.

  2. Lakers record is 41-37, not 31-37.. dang you almost gave me a heart attack just then

  3. When D.A. said he benched Gasol (earlier this year) cause he wanted to win the game….Thats when I knew we were in trouble….Now Kobe is telling Gasol…go post up…D.A. has no control of this team….Kobe and Gasol will lead the team….not the coach….

  4. PG Pau to Howard for the slam dunk.

  5. And the Blazers reveal their hand early: they’re starting 4 rookies and hoping to run us out of the gym. To nobody’s surprise.

  6. Hey Pringles you might put someone else on Lillard. One smart coach.

  7. Lakers defensive confusion? leading to good looks for Portland. Not a good start to this game.

  8. Flat start against another botton feeding team w/o 3 starters. This Lakers defense is the gift that keeps on giving.On a do or die game to boot.

  9. When a team is this bad on defense you must put it on lack of coaching.

    Lose this game and it Should be the end for Pringles.

  10. Dwight Howard in foul trouble again.

  11. Dwight has not been a reliable player all year. Foul trouble again.

  12. I don’t think that I realized that Dwight picked up fouls more frequently than Bynum. Drew really worked on that last year and committed less fouls.

    This team really is quite the enigma….

  13. This is pathetic. Getting crushed by a team starting guys who basically fell out of a monkey’s butt. We have zero pride.

  14. So its the coach fault that aldrige just coast the middle of the lane for a dunk? Stop blaming MDA for every blown rotation and every t/o and every little thing the PLAYERS do wrong, if the Lakers are not willing to tight down on defense on a game loke this not even thibodeau cant do anything about it. Bad defensive rotations and blown assigments and turnovers are on the players.

  15. Come on Lakers respect the Kobe Alerts.

    Howard is foul trouble in this game because his team let’s anyone get past them on the perimeter with little to no resistance. When Howard rotates over to their man to stop the drive no one picks up his man which generally puts him out of position, thus he picks up fouls.

    This should be the one run that the Blazers put together in this game.

    MDA must play some of our youth sprinkled in with the veterans to thwart the tender legs that the Blazers are putting on the court. If continues playing 8 players and relying on MWP instead of using Clark the game will be over by halftime.

    Damien has extended a challenge to Kobe. Challenge accepted!

  16. Another Meeks garbage minute. Hey Mike the guy stinks. Maybe you can coach him next year in a YMCA League.

  17. Great to see us give up 40 points in the first quarter of a MUST WIN game.

    Really? Wow…

  18. Lakers have some of the worst defensive habits in the entire league.

  19. 3 thoughts:

    1. MDA has no game plans and makes no adjustments.

    2. Dwight has no jump in the last 2 games, except for his dunk looks that way again.

    3. Thank god for Kobe – lottery team once he retires unless one thing changes.

  20. Chern is right. When opposing guards are getting into the lane at will fouls on Howard will happen. Its kind of hard not to foul a guy like Lillard when he is come at you 100 mph. Of course, Dwight could just give up those buckets like Pau and be done with it.

  21. Good start to the second quarter! I love it when ‘Black Swan’ comes to the party..

  22. Oh and one of this is just hot shooting by Portland, I mean Lillard hit 2 3s from about 5-6 feet back from the 3 point line. I’ll take my chances with those shots.

  23. Kobe should keep shooting and go for 50 it will help us win

  24. Why i get my comments moderated every time and people that are just whinning on every comment get so fast on the board? Portland will come down, the Lakers will win this game.

  25. Pau is playing some great ball here.

  26. Pau looking very good, Lakers need to continue to look for him.

  27. Say what you want about Pau. When the season on the line, Kobe can rely on Pau and MWP.

    Pau playing his part and MWP playing both ends of the floor.

    These are players back during our championship years other remaining players are bunch of nobody.

  28. Kobe could drop 50 tonight.

  29. Small edit Joe. Lottery team with no picks. Perhaps Jimmy will trade the next 5 years picks for rights to 50 year old Norm Nixon,

    Worst outside defense I can remember.

  30. I want to see 48 shots from kobe tonight
    ..so far kobe shooting is working!!! Only down a few!!!

  31. @Ken: Lakers are not just bad defending the perimeter, they stink in the paint too. In all seriousness no one on this team has committed to defence all year. Phil got worse Laker teams to play much better D. We were also better under Brown. This is a coaching issue. Part of it is playing guys till their heels fall off.

  32. boy, this is fun ball – keep it up fellas!
    KB´s closing in on Elvin already
    (i posted this before DH´s delay of game violation)

  33. Joe… kobe will drop 50 tonight….shots!!! thank goodness we could never beat portland without kobe shooting a lot!!!

  34. Portland is just about as hot as I’ve ever seen a team right now. You have to believe that they will cool down at some point. The defense needs to tighten up, but they are also hitting some tough shots.

  35. How long until Captain Pringles figures out he should put Morris, a fast and decent defensive guard on Lillard, instead of Blake who is stinking up the joint. And if he figures that out, any chance he makes that move? This guy seriously sucks as a coach.

  36. What a block by Kobe.

  37. The wide open “everybody is invited to shoot” festival continues, its unbeliavable how many wide opens looks this team give up to two starters a bunch of benchwarmers and made them look like a 1st seed. Despite Kobe heroics this team dont deserve to be in the playoffs, Utah deserves it more.

  38. Speaking of stinks, nice lob by Blake.

  39. Steve Blake is literally the worst passer in NBA history.

    That last play of the half right there epitomizes how pathetic our D is. And I’m gonna agree with everyone. It’s all on our terrible coach.

  40. So is the year 2006? Kobe has to carry this garbage team again…

  41. That block by Kobe exemplifies why I am a fan! Shoot the ball 100 times if you’d like. Once again playing the whole half and still with energy to block that shot.

    Maybe these new guys on the team don’t want to make the playoffs, they like vacationing. Afterall, most of them come from teams where they usually have their travel agents on speed dial.

    So nice to see a healthy/rested Pau.

  42. I want to punch my TV right now DAMN!!!

    Season on the line and they are still not playing DEFENSE.

    WTF!

  43. That Kobe guy is pretty good. Good defense with the nasty block and then takes a smart foul with only 2.8 seconds left. Down by 6 (hopefully) going into the half isn’t too bad.

    *edit nm with that awful defense they are down 8 at half. Wow.

  44. Run and gun….kobe can outscore portland by himself….first to 125 will win!!

  45. Hey stupid coach. Meeks goes in your down by 10. The guy is horrible. Blake as bad. Again with more crud from Meeks. Get the bum out. What a stupid, stupid, stupid coach.

    Sure glad you gave away 3 draft choices for a 39 year old paper mâché guy to miss the 1st part and last part of season. Nash has been a compete bust. Worst move in off season,

    How about a 70 point half from a desperate Laker team. Really sad to watch. Can’t wait till Meeks, Nash and Pringles are gone.

    This is one dumb team with one dumber coach.

  46. terrible defense. we’re making this portland team looks like a playoff team. and they are not, and we are also not. sucks. we only get the ball when they miss by themselves.
    super lucky 1st half for portland. and what a time to come.

  47. Horrible end to the half im hanging my head low actually, and for those asking for Morris? The last time he made a meaningful appereance he was absolutely punked by Deron and Deron is not half as fast as Lilliard. And he is even worse tham Blake handling the ball, total trainwreck.

  48. Steve blake is regressing to the norm. Basically hes terrible again.

  49. I actually can’t even stand watching D’Antoni on the side line. No wonder they ran this guy out of town in New York.

    Seriously, the only good part of the Lakers not making the playoffs will be the increased chance he gets fired.

  50. Lack of effort on defense is hard to watch. I don’t respect this Lakers team. They don’t even bother to close-out on shooters.

  51. On pace to give up 140 points in the biggest game of the year. Sigh.

  52. @Fern: the only game Morris played against Brooklyn this year was last November. Deron had 22 points on 33% shooting. Brooklyn scored under 100 points in the game and they lost. I am not sure how that constitutes ‘schooling’. Schooling would be 25 points on 65% shooting, being on pace to score 140 points and win.

  53. Winless in pre-season I said this team has issues. “oh it’s just preseason”. Was the cry. Nash looked bad then, Meeks,Duhon, Morris, Ebanks stunk then. Dwight had zero basketball sense then.

    Good thing they upgraded the roster since then and brought in a top, talented coach.

    How about blow up THE FRONT OFFICE.

  54. I´ve just read this from Ken: `Maybe you can coach him next year in a YMCA League.´ LOL!

  55. That last play of the half tells it all. If someone were to tell me that we scored 61 pts in the 1st half, on 57% shooting, I would assume that we would be up by a comfortable margin. Or, at the very least, leading. So, to be down by 8 pts, and giving up 70 pts (rounding it off) in 2 quarters of play is mind-boggling.

    They have to find a way to take the ball out of Lillard’s hand. Even if it means sending that extra defender or trapping him when he’s trying to come off that high screen.

    Playoffs are on the line in this second half. Lose tonight, and it’s a wrap.

  56. Joe, i actually watched the game and when Morris guard him Deron destroyed him.Wasnt Deron’s best game but it wasnt because of the defense he was off.

  57. Great start to the third quarter as the Lakers take the lead.

  58. A fast start to the 3rd quarter!? Am I watching the right game? Keep it up Lakeshow!

  59. Wait, am I dreaming? Do my eyes deceive me? A 10-0 run actually in our favor? And to start the 3rd qtr, no less! Wow!

    But I’ll take it. Now don’t let up and go thru another stupid dry spell like we always seem to do.

  60. Thank you Pringles. You started Clark and benched Reeks. Must have been Kobe’s idea.

    Don’t make any moves coach.

  61. I agree on that Ken. I rather have clark out there than Meeks.

  62. @fern I watched the game, don’t recall it that well, but did Deron make all 6 of his makes on 18 shots against Morris. If so, I’ll take a little of that destruction here.

  63. baby what a run!!

  64. Kobe should go for 50 its been a while.

  65. Yeah Blake being in is soooooo much better than Morris. Tool just picked up a T after a stupid foul.

  66. Kobe with his second block.

  67. Kobe doin work tonight. The guy is truly unbelievable.

    Thanks, Blake. Geez. Smh

    Only we could allow a team to go on a 7-0 run in like 5 seconds. Shocking.

  68. Terrible tech SB. Terrible.

  69. Blake killing all the momemtum, 4 freaking fts, unbeliavable, stupidest play of the month

  70. Team falling apart after Blake massive stupidity

  71. Here is D’Antoni greatest weakness, when a ‘go to guy’ like Blake is playing terrible – he won’t even try a bench guy – he just rides the cold hand. That is why he can never win it all – you need to have confidence in all your guys.

  72. Oh Man, Kobe doing ALL we could ask for.

    What a machine.

  73. And a terrible gamble by Blake on that fast break…

  74. Very sick of fumbling Dwight.

    Kobe is the best in the world today.

  75. Why don’t we just say next basket wins and spare us all the frustration of watching this game. What’s the point of even going up 6, 8, 10? As soon as we do, it’s tied in like 2 possessions. How is that freakin possible every damn time?!?!

  76. I dont see how morris could be any worst than blake right now.

  77. So Pringles put Reeks back in. Why?

    Another bright 3 seconds by Dwight.

    This is a very low iq team. Reflection of the coach.

  78. We go from up 6 (a chance to go up 8) to down 4 in the blink of an eye. We are literally the dumbest team in the league to keep letting the same thing happen time after time after time. Smh

  79. very poor officiating. lillard treated like a star.
    and our bigs inside cant get calls inside. they are being bumped down low.

  80. Wow, if Batum, Matthews and Hickson were playing the Lakers would have no chance.

  81. I dont know in my opinion, Kobe should be the MVP, Lebron and Durant are playing in well oiled machines, with all the crap this team been thru this year, Kobe’s will alone its the only thing that has keep this team in playoff contention, if Kobe was out for whatever reason we would be looking at a 50+ loss team. One of his finest season if not the finest. Just iron will.

  82. 12 minutes left in the season.

    Who will step up.

    Kobe? Pau? Metta?
    Guys who have even there.

    Dwight, Meeks, Pringles
    Guy who have NEVER been there.

  83. agree Fern, further evidence tonight is his nasty stat line, wow

  84. These last few games we’ve seen the difference between champions and a fraud. Kobe and Pau are stepping up Dwight is crumbling under these expectations.

  85. Dwight has 5 turnovers? How is that even possible.

  86. This might be Kobe’s best two-way game of the year. He’s on fire offensively and is everywhere on defense. (mostly in a good ‘everywhere’ way)

  87. Howard is having his 3rd terrible rebounding game in a row.

    Kobe is playing arguably his best game of the season.

  88. Kobe is dying for this team to just get an 8 seed while Dwight can’t stop getting 2 fouls in the first 8 minutes of the game therefore hurting his ability to be aggressive the rest of the game.

  89. Nice, Kobe to Pau for the layup.

  90. Pau is stepping up tonight. This is the guy that we’ve been missing. It looks like he is finally healthy and fully rested. #BlackSwan

  91. Portland’s coach uses his timeouts effectively, stopping Lakers momentum and re-focusing his young players on offense and defense.

    Pau!

    Which team will make the least amount of mental mistakes?

    Two nice plays by Blake.

  92. Forgot how good Pau is, been awhile since we’ve seen it.

  93. Kobe and Pau are willing Lakers to the finish line.

  94. Dwight is NOT a winner. Pau and Kobe are.

    When you fill your team with guys who never won anything

    Howard.
    Nash
    Pringles

    What should you expect in crunch time?

  95. The championship vestiges of this team carrying the load.

  96. Its kobe and pau…not dwight. It looks like dwight is now the third best player on the team.

  97. Sweet Kobe. Sweet.

  98. Kobe with a great pass to Pau for the layup.

  99. Mamba!! Truly a winner.

  100. Great steal Blake! Makes up for that awful turnover earlier. I may have said this before, but that Kobe cat is pretty good. #Hissingsounds

    **I had to steal that Darius!

  101. Kobe now has the most points by an opponent at the Rose Garden surpassing LeBron’s 44 points.

  102. Kobe is the MAN.

    Dwight is The invisible MAN

  103. Howard has to learn to be a winner. Remember this is the guy that came out of high school (no pressure) to Orlando to win games (no pressure). Next year after he fully rehabs and has spent a year with the Lakers/Kobe he’ll start to exhibit winning tendencies.

    Remember Pau and MWP had to learn how to play to win in big games with the Lakers.

    1 mental mistake by the Lakers.

  104. The Lakers are shooting 61% for the entire game. And the defense on the second half is been pretty good

  105. Chearn MWP got himself in Lakers history his 1st season here

  106. Really, Blake? Why do we always have to make things so difficult on ourselves?

  107. Dwight is just a giant choke. Can’t hold the ball or rebound.

    Keep the ball away from him.

  108. honestly that turnover with blake and Dwight, you can say its bad players but its just unfamiliarity. So much of this is just on court chemistry that needs to develop…look at what Kobe and Pau are able to re-ignite so quickly after having played so few games together recently..but they can just go back to their past connection to create magic

  109. Howard trying to make a case for his late-game usefulness…

  110. Surprised Portland didnt t hack a Dwight

  111. Steve Blake was positively awful tonight but I will recognize his 2 huge offensive boards.

  112. How about that Steve Blake offensive rebound?! How do you like him now?!

    LOL

  113. Pau —> Dwight for dunk. That is just not fair. We’ve been waiting to see this all darn year. Pretty stuff.

  114. 2 huge O boards by Blake to make up for a terrible game!

  115. Blake with a huge offensive rebound leads to a Pau to Howard slam dunk

  116. Again guys who know how to win
    Kobe, Pau, Blake.

    Howard?

    Choke two FTs.

  117. SB with 2 HUGE boards and Pau with 2 HUGE assists.

  118. Wow portland is a bad team…they didnt even try hack-a-howard and they gave up 2 straight dunks.

  119. Steve Blake the rebounder!

  120. Lakers get their first back to back wins of the season. Lakers survive and keep their playoff hopes in their own hands.

  121. Yeah! great win
    amazing night KB, thank you thank you

  122. Note to all – Robert MUST be allowed to post first from now on!

    OK, Robert, please – what are KB’s stats with respect to 45pt plus games?

  123. I don’t know about you guys, but this ‘passing of the torch’ or ‘handing over the keys to the franchise’ thing doesn’t seem to be happening.

    18/18 from the FT line. Dang…

  124. Kobe dont even look winded. Amazing. Good job cleaning up the mess in the second half.

  125. Portland had Batum, Hickson, and Wesley Matthews out with injuries. They started 4 rookies and a gimpy Aldridge.

    Lakers have terrible habits and play with a sense of entitlement. It’s hard to respect this crew.

  126. Magic is still my all-time favorite Los Angeles Laker (all 5 positions as a rookie in the 7th game of the championship). But, Kobe is right there.

    Kobe just played the entire game at 34 years of age and his 17th year in the league! That is just phenomenal!

    What will the next great superstar for the Lakers have to do to top Kobe Bean Black Mamba Vino Bryant, have to do?

  127. happy for our team with this W.
    a grinder that we our guys fought hard. from pau to howard, with kobe being vintage ‘Vino’ Kobe.
    other guys stepped up too, Blake, Clark and MWP providing intensity when we are down in the 1st qtr. hope we can continue this momentum marching our way to playoffs.

  128. Really surprised they didnt try hack a dwight in a tight game. Orl tried down by 13 lol. I hate the move but it was justified in that situation with the rules as they are right now.

  129. Utah shouldn’t own the tiebreaker when the teams only play 3 games with 2 in Utah.

  130. Kobe put up a 47/8 on 52% shooting and was 18/18 at the stripe. He is 34 years old, in his 17th year, and this was the second game of a b2b in which he played 48 minutes.

  131. @inwit

    Honestly, we should be ashamed that we’re even coming down to the technicalities of the tie-breaker with Utah…

  132. Something is up with dwight. His back may be getting worse or it may never get better. I think this is the third straight game gasol has outplayed howard.

  133. Kobe was the one who insisted to switch up the defensive scheme to trap during halftime.

    MD saying he thought they could have gotten back in with regular defense regardless. Wow, this is our coach. Good thing the players took initiative.

  134. Imwit, actually 2 of the 3 games were at staples.

    Anyways, lakers live to fight another day!! Come on T wolves!,

  135. I agree Harold, it has been a tough year.

  136. I’d like to try to look on the bright side and hope that DH is learning how to win by observing how KB does it.

  137. Nobody other than LeBron has had better individual games than Kobe this year. The guys will is incredible. Dwight could learn a few things from Kobe this year. It’s easy to forget so much has gone on this year and Kobe has been the only constant.

  138. @R
    It certainly helped Bynum grow. Waaaaiiiiiiiiiit.

  139. From Elias: Kobe Bryant: 1st player in NBA history with at least 47 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks, 3 steals in an NBA game (blocks and steals became official in 1973-74)

  140. Harold, DH has an opportunity here, to grow in the face of adversity. Maybe he will take advantage of this opportunity.

  141. and then there were three..games that is until the end of the regular season.

    also, there were at least three significant things that happened tonite with the lakers win:

    1. kobe continues to show us what a guarantee looks like.

    2. back to back remains in tact. no time like the present, right?

    3. and the big three came up big, big and big tonite.

    and for those keeping score, yes, dog scratches door, we go for walk, we come home, lakers win.

    Go Lakers

  142. I love Robert!!!

  143. I’ll take that W. Not super pretty outside of KB and Pau, but the win is all that matters right now.

  144. @ Chearn April 10, 2013 at 9:32 pm:

    Agree 100%. Magic is the reason I’m a Lakers but what we see from Kobe night after night is simply amazing.