Records: Lakers 55-23 (2nd in West), Trailblazers 46-33 (6th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.1 (5th in NBA), Trailblazers 108.9 (10th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.0 (6th in NBA), Trailblazers 107.1 (14th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Trailblazers: Andre Miller, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Gerald Wallace, LaMarcus Aldridge
Injuries: Lakers: Devin Ebanks (out); Trailblazers: Greg Oden (out), Marcus Camby (questionable)
UPDATE: According to the LA Times’ Mike Bresnahan, Andrew Bynum missed today’s shoot around due to intestinal flu symptoms and his status for tonight is unclear. We’ll keep you updated with any information we get on whether or not he’ll play in this game.
The Lakers Coming in: There’s no need to sugar coat things, the Lakers are playing poorly right now. Kobe was able to laugh off a loss to Denver and another the Jazz, explaining them away as BS-ing. After dropping a third straight to the Warriors, those reasons excuses are no more. This team has lost its groove and it’s showing.
As we’ve been preaching here of late, the drop off is most noticeable on offense. The team has abandoned the little things in favor of trying to do the big things more often but are failing. Homerun passes and fading jump shots make the highlight reels but an over reliance on such tactics spells doom. If you haven’t noticed, the Lakers’ statistical profile on that side of the ball has also suffered. For most of the season they’ve been a top 2 team in terms of offensive efficiency rating (points per 100 possessions). After a solid week of under performing on that side of the ball, the Lakers now rank 5th.
Not everything is trending downward, though. As the Lakers offense has struggled, their defense – despite the eyes telling us they’re not quite at top form – is still performing well. They’ve held steady as the 6th most efficient defense and continue to make life hard for teams in the half court. Where they could be performing better is in transition defense and in finishing possessions by better securing defensive rebounds, but these have been issues for most of the year without them being fatal flaws. I’d love to see Gasol pick up his intensity in going after defensive boards and I’d like the guards to squeeze the foul line more to gobble up more long rebounds but some of this is directly related to fatigue. I’ve full confidence that this will be adequately cleaned up in the playoffs.
The Trailblazers Coming in: In the three weeks since the Blazers last faced our guys, they’ve played 9 games. In those contests they’re 6-3 with 4 of those wins coming over the Spurs (twice), the Mavs, and the Thunder. Needless to say, this team is playing pretty well. As has been the case since the trade deadline, Portland has gone small more frequently than not starting Gerald Wallace at PF and running their offense inside out by establishing LaMarcus Aldridge’s presence in the post.
An off-set of the trade and moving this team away from Brandon Roy’s perimeter oriented game and towards Aldridge, is that the Blazers now offer much more versatility and depth. Roy and Camby are now players that typically come off the bench giving the Blazers the equivalent of 7 starters. We’ve all seen how the Lakers benefit from having multiple players they trust to start and close games, Portland now enjoys that same luxury. And because Roy can effectively play both SG and PG while Camby can play PF or C, the Blazers also have a team that can mix and match lineups to counter what the opposition is doing. When the playoffs start, this will all prove invaluable.
Speaking of the playoffs, the Blazers are in a dog fight to stay in the 6th seed as the Hornets are on their heels. As Dave from Blazers’ Edge details:
The Blazers, of course, are fighting to hold onto the 6th seed and not get dumped into 7th, likely against these same Lakers should L.A. tally the win tonight. No matter what Portland fans would like to claim about their team’s successful history against the Lakers two truths stand out starkly: that success extends neither to road games nor the playoffs. There are reasons for wistful hope in a playoff series versus the Thunder, Mavericks, or even the Spurs. Little exists against L.A. for the guys in red and black. The Blazers need this game.
Trailblazers Blogs: Check out Portland Roundball Society for your Blazer news and notes. Blazers Edge is also an excellent site.
Keys to game: The Blazers are a familiar foe and as noted above they have much on the line tonight. They’d surely rather face the #3 seed and a win tonight helps them achieve that goal. Also motivating them is the fact that this game offers the last chance to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Lakers. Expect a fantastic effort from the home team tonight.
If the Lakers want to thwart that push, they’ll need to stick to the game plan in how to beat this team. That starts with containing LaMarcus Aldridge. While’s he’s not been the amazing scorer he was in February, his 20 points a game in March/April still pace this team. He loves the mid left block and his goal is to turn and face which then opens up his jump shot or his hard drive to the middle where he shoots a running one hander. Gasol, Bynum, and Odom will all need to sit on LMA’s right hand and crowd him to make him go to his left hand. Even when he’s posting, the Lakers need to make him spin baseline to shoot a fade away rather than letting him get to the middle where he can effectively close down space and get an easier look.
Defending the other Blazers also comes down to understanding who does what well. Wesley Matthews and Rudy Fernandez are capable shooters that will fire away from three point range at will. They both need to be run off the arc to turn them into deep two point shooters. Nic Batum will also take the three pointer without hesitation, but his long stride also enables him to attack the rim if the close out is executed well. Considering Batum really hurt the Lakers the last game making deep jumpers, I expect that he’ll garner more attention tonight. As for Miller and Wallace, I’m quite happy surrendering the jumper to them all game. Both are much more comfortable attacking the paint with either post ups or off the dribble so both should be forced to shoot jumpers. Brandon Roy is the wildcard here as he’s still got the skill that made him great but doesn’t always have the leg power to execute his plan. He’s been great at using his hesitation dribble to get to the paint but has trouble finishing over length. The key with him is to keep him in front and simply contest his shots to make them more difficult. If he pulls out some of that old magic, just tip your cap.
As for the Lakers offense, I’d say “go to player X” or “take advantage of match up Y” but the way this group has been playing offense lately there’s no reason to say such things. This team just needs to get back to basics on that side of the ball in order to establish any kind of rhythm that can relied upon. Cut hard, screen hard, and move the ball. Do this every possession and good shots will come for the offensive threats that exist on this team. If these things don’t happen and the ball sticks while guys just stand around or just go through the motions in their movement, they’ll again struggle to score the ball. Obviously it all starts with Kobe and Pau, but Fisher, Shannon, and Barnes can all show more discretion with the ball in their hands to get their mates involved more.
Understand, this game has value. The Lakers may be pretty much locked in to the #2 seed (thanks to a faltering Mavs team) but LA is still only one game up in the loss column on both the Celtics and Heat for any potential Finals match up. Yes, that’s looking ahead (something I try to avoid) but wins today could be meaningful tomorrow. Beyond that though, is the fact that there’s no better time than to start playing better than in the next game on the agenda. That’s tonight in Portland. The Lakers have been in a rut. It’s time to get out of that.
Where you can watch: 7:00pm start on KCAL. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710am.
Well, if Bynum misses the game they’ll at least have an excuse for losing.
If we win this game, it increases the likelihood that we’ll play Portland in the first round. I’m not saying we should tank this game, but I won’t be too disappointed if we lose this one. Then again, losing would put us behind Boston and Miami, which could mean losing home court to either of them if we make it to the Finals and meet them. Hmm…
Gasol has been owned by Aldridge and Bosh (very similar players) this season. Lets hope he holds his own tonight.
Darius Soriano says
#2. LA should be trying to win all it’s games. Period. Strategic losing is just…wrong. I’d hate to root for a team that pulled that junk.
Losing home court to Boston and Miami is BAD. Besides, if we need to hedge things to make sure we get out of the first round we don’t deserve to be in the later rounds. Simple as that.
Strategic losing is for … losers.
I’d be amazed if that was something a PJ coached team would do.
If the Lakers can’t handle Portland in a playoff series, why would they be able to handle Miami, Boston or the Bulls?
Intestinal flu symptoms? Does that mean diarrhea? Someone help me out with this? Or does it mean he is throwing up? I hope its not both. I can understand how Drew and Artest would be nauseous watching everyone else on the team play defense.
Sorry to go off on a tangent, but this was too hard to pass up. I laughed so hard, I *did* fall off the couch.
The attention to detail is amazing!
Wait, what? Artest is sick too?
Call me superstitious or whatever but I think strategic losing means p*ss*ng off the basketball gods and screwing with your karma. It’s going to bite you and it won’t work out in the long run.
Then again it seemed to work for SA and getting Duncan in the lottery.
Personally I’d love to crush the Blazers in the first round and picture HA watching the last game of the series in his basement, surrounded by empty whiskey bottles.
I just had a brainwave: the Mavericks are the Magic of the West. It’s so simple, I don’t know why I never saw it before.
Did SA win Duncan before the NBA started the lame and idiotic ping pong ball scheme?
#4 Darius, did you even read what I posted? I never said they should tank. I only said that I wouldn’t be that upset if they lost tonight. Out of Portland, Memphis, and New Orleans, the team I wouldn’t want to play in the first round is Portland. That’s all I was saying.
Darius Soriano says
#12. I did, but apparently mis-read/mis-understood. My fault.
As an aside, I think I may actually prefer Portland over Memphis. If I was ranking today from most to least favorable: Hornets, Blazers, Memphis.
Matt @ 12 – Likewise understand you were not advocating tanking a game or games.
The concept is a bit of a hot button for me; hence I vented a bit about it.
No offense intended.
The Lakers need this one tonight not only to stop the losing streak but I would hate to see the Lakers have to play Portland in the 1st round. Portland has a playing style well suited for the halfcourt game that predominates in the playoffs. And who knows, Brandon Roy could get hot and kill the Lakers off of the bench.
If the Lakers have to play Portland it would probably go 6 games. If they were lucky enough to get NO then they probably sweep.
mavs are tanking! we do not want thunder to get 3 spot!
“we do not want thunder to get 3 spot!”
au contraire, James!
True champions take on, and beat, all comers.
Let’s see if Perk is really all that.
Darius Soriano says
So, Bynum is playing and Camby is not. We’ll see how Wallace does with Gasol on the low block.
Looking for a link. I know you can still use ilemi and atdhe with a foreign domain, I just don’t remember what it is. Help please. thanks
The Portland TV announcers have got to be one of the worst ‘homers’ in all professional sports broadcasts. some of their quips: “The refs didn’t see Kobe hitting (charging) Wesley Matthews , but they see Matthews slightly holding the big man rolling to the basket”. or (the foul called on Chris Johnson on Bynum on the rebound) “That’s not a foul! he (johnson) didn’t hit Bynum’s hand that was holding the ball. that’s just a let-go incidental contact (when the replay clearly showed he held on bynum’s wrist that caused the ball to pop out)”. On Brian Shaw’s claim to fame (to them) “When I see Brian Shaw, I remember him hitting that lucky bank-in 3 that triggered the rally that cost the Blazers game 7 of the 2000 WCF”. Man, it’s been more than a decade! get over it! these guys sound so pathetic I’m about to mute the TV!
so frusterating to watch this team in the regular season. Even after all these years its still frustrating as heck.
anyone have a link for the game?
ryan did you try justin.tv?
Mihm's the Word says
#20 Try myp2p (search in google)
#21 Tell me about it. I live in Portland and have grown to like the Blazers (Still a die-hard Lakers fan though), but I can’t stand listening to their TV announcers. One of my best friends up here has been a Blazers fan his whole life and he might hate them more than I do! They’re HUGE homers and aren’t afraid to show it, and on top of that they say disrespectful things about other players (Especially Lakers, and oddly foreign players). It really takes the joy out of watching basketball…
You might want to skip it but
the playoffs could not come soon enough.
I’ve missed seeing a Kobe explosion. Thank goodness for making this a ballgame.
mamba is a paradox wrapped in an enigma.
Ron is 1 for 5
1 for 7
Tonight 1 for 6
Last three games
He got beat 5 times on defense.
Anyone who thinks this guy cares more about basketball then going out and clubbing is blind.
Man, I get online and it’s half time. So I read back through the play-by-play. Very few things are as baffling as seeing a succession of missed FTs by Kobe followed by multiple made 3pt shots.
Life with Kobe is never boring.
If the Lakers lose this game it is reasonable to say there is something wrong with this team….again…all of sudden, just when we thought they had found it. I think it goes beyond being just tired. I have no idea what to expect from this team anymore. I would not be surpirsed if they win the championship and would not be surprised if they lose in the first round.
Lakers of 2011= Unpredictable
Kobe probably missed the free throws to give him the extra motivation to make the 3pt shots. Genius!
Really though… somebody else has to step up tonight otherwise when Kobe cools down they are in trouble.
Did anybody happen to count how many fast break layups/ uncontested alley oops by Portland?
31. Bobji I was keeping track, but then i lost count.
seriously tho how do u let them back door alley oop you so many times.
lakers r seriously coasting, those fastbreak layups could have been prevented by manning up and taking a charge.
I mean, none of us really wanted home court versus Boston and Miami, right?
RE: The Blazers announcers
I swear, and correct me anybody if I’m wrong, but I thought I heard them say shortly after the interview with Greg Oden that they remember when Oden dominated the Lakers’ bigs? Lol, what?
its like the lakers forgot that they are more talented than any other. The blazers are initiating the action out there and the lakers are doing a horrible job of trying to respond. The defense thus far has been atrocious and the offense has been non-existent.
the offense has to move from the inside. We have to initiate our offense from Pau and Bynum. When double teams come we have to cut and create opportunities. None of that is happening.
Defensively, we just look lost.
Daniel, that is crazy! lol…just wow.
We can not buy a shot, and the Blazers have lots of points in the paint, heck, all layups it seems like.
Wake me up when the playoffs start. It seems as though the Lakers are going through another one of those “we’re not interested” spells.
it looks like the lakers have shut it down until the playoffs.
Please put Luke Walton in the game
There is simply no way to analyze this game.
i wanna see Caracter and Ebank. rest till play off. go Lakes!
Is it too late to get Smush Parker back?
it’s 5:40 am in eastern Europe and i’m watching this pathetic effort from the lakers.better turn it up in the playoffs,they’ve just ruined my weekend and it hasn’t even started! 🙂 greetings from croatia
lets go lakers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The bench is really earning its money right now. Somehow this is still a game.
shannon brown just makes very bad decisions.
Andrew is having a bad game. he just went to the bench with his fifth. Anyone else notice that he didnt sit next to the open seat next to kobe and made ebanks move over instead.
…im frusterated and looking for some answers lol sorry.
Blazers have done an excellent job in swarming Pau. They have not allowed him to get to his spots and are attacking him as soon as he gets the ball. Pau is trying to find the open player but he seems to be rushing his decisions. On top of that no one is really moving towards the basket when Pau is double teamed and pau is not shooting efficient shots.
Hope this is the first round matchup in the playoffs. I will finally hear the end of “wait till the playoffs” from Lakers fans.
this is beyond …. i dont know…. screw it …
Why can’t we do that, the Blazer players have just been running through our defenses all night, and getting easy layups.
Am I the only one that thinks Pau is a bad defensive rebounder. It’s a difference between a person that gets a lot of rebounds because they play the center and forward position and play a lot of minutes (Pau) and person that goes out and gets rebounds like Bynum. I’m really starting to buy into the he’s just soft. Because if I had to put my money on somebody getting a 50-50 rebound I wouldn’t put it on Pau.
I rephrase Pau being a bad defensive rebounder. He’s just not aggressive which leads to a lot of rebounds that he could get but doesn’t because somebody literally takes it away from him or beats him to the punch. Pau still remains a great offensive rebounder.
4 loses in a row. Lakers are trying so hard to blow home court against more teams! Maybe they can do it?? Lol
Wow all of a sudden derek fisher can shoot!
17 TOs tonight. That is the common denominator in all four losses–17-20 turnovers. Playing at the slow pace they do, the Lakers can’t score enough with that many TOs.
During the run, they often had single-digit TOs.
time to P – A – N – I – C
We are not Celtic fans, we do not believe in panic.
How does the tiebreaker work if Boston and LA end up with the same records for HCA? Second option is whoever won the season series but what is the third option?
we win the tiebreaker with boston since our record is better against the eastern conference than theirs is against the western conference.
Playoffs are around the corner, not an excuse but the Lakers finished the season the same way last year.
Thanks LO-Fan for the clarification
4 straight losses is weak and PATHETIC!
all the good feelings from the hotstreak are officially killed now…
Lakers with another uninspired performance and have blown home court against the Heat and nearly have lost home court against Boston. Still too many turnovers, and poor transition defense tonight.
Would like to see the Lakers win the next three games and get some momentum going into the playoffs. Go Lakers and get ready for the playoffs and bring home the title once again.
Hey, i rather they go through a 4 game losing streak now and not in the playoffs.
The Lakers were awful on offense tonight. Just terrible. Overdribbling. Bad Spacing. Committing offensive 3 second violations left and right. Credit to the Blazers D I guess, but there was not really any phase in the game where our offense was good tonight.
Kobe made four straight threes so that it wouldn’t be a blowout at halftime, and Shannon brown had some blitz layups off misses to cut the game to twelve at the end of the third. But the offense overall in this game was just awful, with VERY long dry spells.
Its putting a ton of pressure on the Laker D right now, and was definitely too much to overcome.
Pau and Bynum were manhandled underneath the basket tonight by smaller players. Reminded me of the playoffs against Houston a few years ago – the Lakers were bigger, but Houston managed better positioning.
We did lead the game in rebouding (by a lot tonight), but when the Blazers get so many alley-oops and uncontested layups they can afford for the Lakers to grab some boards.
And man, Gerald Wallace was getting away with a ton of flopping tonight. Credit to him for it, but he flopped on at least 4 straight possessions and they bought it.
Frustrating to lose 4 in a row. This team goes so hot and cold. Its ridiculous.
I hope that’s the case
This squad seems to have a very sensitive on/off switch, so hopefully they’ll be on again soon.
It really seems like this losing streak stems from problems on the offensive end.
Lakers REALLY need that win against OKC now: Dallas can still catch us, and if we lose out, OKC could catch us too. Or if we lost to OKC, they would be able to catch Dallas, and they have the tie breaker. I do not want to have OKC in the second round, as they create the most nightmares for us in the West.
The winner of the Boston-Miami Game is gonna be huge for us now too, cuz if Miami wins, then they will almost certainly have home court over us in the playoffs, and if Boston wins then we control the tiebreaker. What a dilemma when we watch that one.
If we win the OKC game, though, this could be a blessing, because right now Portland is the 6 seed over new orleans and would certainly have been the 7 seed if we had beaten them tonight.
So many variables….
LA is just following the NBA script to make for possibly the most compelling playoff scenarios in recent history!
Only the Lakers could bring this kind of excitement and intrigue, leading into the playoffs.
The Lakers are backing into the playoffs and when is that ever a good sign?
I am baffled.
How do you go 17-1 (could have easily been 18-0) and suddenly lose four in a row? I understand the basketball aspects of it (bad execution, turnovers), but how did those errors occur so regularly out of nowhere?!
Has anybody heard anything about the Bone Bruise Pau got in the Denver game?
I know sometimes those things can take a long time to heal??
Okay… Little can be learned about the last four games. Just very little interest is being given bybthe Lakers. I’d never thought I’d say this… But the Lakers are too good for their own good. They really feel they can curb play hard and dominate when they want. This will be fairly amusing when we start dominating again. Anyways… In just wrote this email to Bill Simmons… I find it interesting. I think you will too.
This isn’t a question for your mailbag. This is just to answer your question regarding NBA players like Kobe, Malone, Nash, Grant Hill, Paul Pierce, Rat Allen, Kevin Garnett (among many others) playing at a high level at a time in their careers when other players were already washed up. You speculated correctly that it was new technology, medicine, eating habits, workout methods, and video scouting. Sure all those things play a minor role. But the majority of the reason the modern NBA player can play at a high level where others before them could not due to age and milage is this… endurance. Phil Jackson said yesterday he doesn’t like the modern game because of all the TV timouts. He said there isn’t the “flow” of the old game he used to play. He said basketball should be played like soccer. Constant motion. Phil went on to say that the NBA in an (successful) effort to generate more funds… gradually implemted more frequent and longer time outs to allow for more commercials. As we know the first thing to go as people age is endurance. You see guys as strong and as skilled but they just don’t have the same energy for long bursts. We see that here in Los Angeles with a certain fifteen year vet at SG. Sure Bryant can be effective in stretches… But he only has it in short bursts. I mean think about it… He was dead at the end of the All Star game. The last five minutes it looked like he hasn’t ran a mile in seven years. He was just dead weight. And that was an All Star game for Jordan’s sake. I figure we should replace god with MJ in every case. Life is just better that way. And Michael does deserve it. Anyways… Back to where I blow your mind. All these frequently long breaks in the game give these old guys a chance to catch their breathe. And it’s showing. Of course the pace of the game accounts for some of this as well. That heps these old guys too.
Personally I think the double knee injuries to Pau and Bynum had something to do with it. Even if they were just tweaks, they might have made our bigs a bit more tentative for fear of doing some real damage. I don’t have a lot of problem with that to be honest, because the one thing I want is a healthy team throughout the postseason.
As much as I agree with Darius that it would rankle to root for a team that practices strategic losing, the simple truth is that right now, the playoff seeding in the West ENTIRELY favors the Lakers.
If it holds…
San Antonio against Memphis
Lakers against New Orleans
Dallas against Portland
Robber Barons against Denver
Only Portland is worrisome on the Lakers side of the bracket, while ALL four teams on the Spurs side of the bracket are scary.
I would bet that a Dallas-Portland series goes 6 or 7 games, and the winner comes out bruised and frayed. And I would also wager that the Lakers take New Orleans out in 5 games, gaining a little more rest.
I also think the Lakers beat Dallas or Portland in 5 or 6, getting even more rest while the other series goes 6 or 7.
I know it is distasteful, but we call them professionals because they treat it as a job. By losing now (which costs them nothing, except a hypothetical HCA vs the East) they are gaining a very large return in the West playoffs.
And, if they are just coasting and essentially resting up before the real season begins, I have no issue with that. These Lakers have shown that they CAN turn “The Switch” on when the playoffs start.
Can’t blame the crew on this site if you are coasting too… it would not be fair if you were working hard to put up a game recap with perspectives and in depth analysis of the luke warm droppings that the Lakers served for their fans last night.
Take a few days of, rest up, get ready for the playoffs the Lakers way… and I promise, it won’t lead me to calling any of you soft!
Darius Soriano says
I’ll have some thoughts up soon. I had some things come up last night that delayed me from my normal routine. Thanks for the the reprieve, though! 😉 Know that I’ll rarely take a play off. Ha.
Darius Soriano says
Some game thoughts are up.
Hi guys, Spurs fan here.
In response to #76, my absolute dream seeding for the playoffs involves the Lakers having to go through the Grizzlies, then OKC, than my Spurs. MY GOD that would be fantastic. I think with our homecourt advantage, and you guys weary with having to deal with Gasol/Randolph down low and the general havoc created by OKC, we have a good shot at beating you. But then again my Spurs are as old as just about any team so who knows if we even have the gas after fending off NOLA and the Nougats.
Are you guys also just not worried about the Mavs? I feel like the Spurs simply own them psychologically, ever year, come playoff time. Do you worry about that potential matchup?
Darius Soriano says
#80. That bracket is as close to a nightmare scenario as possible.
From my perspective the Mavs are a tough match up, but they lack some key ingredients. They don’t have multiple wing defenders, their non-Chandler size isn’t that impressive, and they rely too much on the jump shot to score. I love Dirk and think Terry is a very good player/closer in the 4th, but w/o an inside game to buoy their offense, they’re not as good a match up for the Lakers as other teams, I think.
#80, Darius, I agree, that is a nightmare scenario.
That is exactly what the Lakers have avoided, as of right now.
#1 San Antonio against #8 Memphis
#2 Lakers against #7 New Orleans
#3 Dallas against #6 Portland
#4 Robber Barons against #5 Denver
Winner of #1/#8 against Winner of #4/#5
Winner of #2/#7 against Winner of #3/#6
It happens that this season the # 3 Team (Dallas) is weaker than the #4 (Oklahoma) or the #5 (Denver). It also happens that the #8 (Memphis) is stronger than the #7 (New Orleans).
Sure, all of this can change over the last 3-4 games of the season, but I think that the Lakers have taken a bit of time off, watched the scoreboard, and are willing to hit the gas or brakes as required to settle into their favored spot.
And I would further bet that the coaches have almost nothing to do with this, but the players know who they would prefer to play. Maybe Kobe and Artest really feel, “Don’t matter. I will knock anybody down.”, but I doubt that the others all do…