This Book Includes: Weird Spaceships! New Planets! And an Emo Weirdo!
Live from the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Los Angeles Lakers.
Hating the Lakers is written into Portland law, but at this point the “Beat LA” chants are just cruel. The Lakers are having one of their worst seasons in ages—Kobe Bryant is broken, Steve Nash is old, Pau Gasol has been in and out of the lineup, and Dwight Howard left LA to play for the Rockets. The Lakers are basement dwellers with nothing to look forward to except a top five draft pick next year. Can it still be a rivalry when one team is this bad?
If tanking were art, the Lakers would be Picasso. It’s not every night you get to see Wesley Johnson, Kendall Marshall, Kent Bazemore, and MarShon Brooks play meaningful minutes in an NBA game. I’d guess the majority of the bandwagon Lakers fans in attendance tonight don’t know who half of these guys are. Shoot, I don’t think Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni knows who half of these guys are.
Andrew Wiggins sure will look good in purple and gold, though.
The good news for Portland, besides having LaMarcus Aldridge back in their starting lineup, is that their defense is still creeping up towards league average. The Blazers have been quite a bit stingier off the ball in recent weeks, and as that defense improves so do their playoff hopes.
It has been against the dregs of the league, but the Blazers are on a five-game winning streak. Not to give the Lakers any more “nobody believes in us” bulletin board fodder, but after tonight that winning streak will be up to six games. Sorry, Los Angeles, the 2000 playoffs it ain’t. Kobe Bryant is not walking through that door.
When this game is all but over in the third quarter, go ahead and distract yourself by creating a new court design for the Moda Center. I tried to make it just this photo of Bill Walton—”Lillard, from the upper thigh, for the win...it’s good!”—but apparently there are “rules” to this court redesign contest.
Of the hundred or so Lakers jersey I can see from where I am sitting, there is not a single one from a player taking the court tonight. Not one. There are a bunch of outdated #8 Kobe jerseys, though! Keep driving that bandwagon, Lakers fans.
10:52 - How is Kent Bazemore out here wearing #6? He shouldn't disrespect Eddie Jones like that. 4-2 Lakers.
9:43 - The cheers aren't quite as loud for the Lakers in here as they normally are. The energy is actually kind of sapped out of this place. I liked it better when it was a rivalry worth getting angry for. Where's Kobe when you need him? 8-6 Lakers.
6:56 - Give the Lakers credit, they sure do like to run. They are leaking out after every basket, rebound, turnover, etc, and pushing the pace to Mike D'Antoni breakneck speeds. The Blazers haven't quite woken up yet, and LA is taking advantage of non-existent transition defense. 15-9 Lakers.
6:21 - Well, that's a 13-3 run for the Lakers. Terry Stotts needs time. The Blazers need a quick nap. 17-9 Lakers.
5:20 - The Lakers were guarding LaMarcus Aldridge with Wesley Johnson, and yet Stotts pulled Aldridge to go smaller and matchup better with LA. Huh? No. Just go to Aldridge ever single time in the post. 17-13 Lakers.
3:42 - Well don't I feel silly. The Lakers are winning this one by eleven. Carry on. 24-13 Lakers.
3:14 - You can't give a terrible team confidence like this. The Lakers can't miss right now, and are out-hustling their way to easy baskets. The Blazers have six turnovers and are hemorrhaging points like crazy. Ugh. 29-15 Lakers.
2:12 - The Blazers are 1-5 from the line tonight. That's how you know things aren't going well. 33-18 Lakers.
0:00 - It's not often I've use the word pathetic when describing the Blazers this year, but that first quarter was pathetic. 33-20 Lakers.
10:58 - LaMarcus Aldridge is doing all he can to get Portland out of this funk. He's got twelve points already and the Lakers haven't found an answer yet. 35-24 Lakers.
9:32 - After getting burned on three straight possessions, the Lakers decided to double Aldridge in the post. He kicked it out, it went around the horn, and CJ McCollum hit an open three-pointer. Even when not shooting Aldridge is putting his stamp all over this one in the second. 39-29 Lakers.
7:38 - CJ with a nice and one, taking it strong to the hole and absorbing contact. He's got six points on the night, and is one of the only Blazers outside of LaMarcus with any sort of offensive flow. 45-35 Lakers.
7:16 - Robin Lopez with a back to back sequence that has this crowd finally alive. He had a huge block on one end, then followed that up with a huge, one-handed slam. Oh, and picked up a foul in the process. That play took so long to develop that fans were cheering before it even happened. 45-38 Lakers.
5:27 - After giving up a three to Kendall Marshall, the Blazers are on a 6-0 run. This is somehow a four point game. 48-44 Lakers.
3:49 - I don't know how the Lakers can play this fast. After a made three by Wesley Matthews, the Lakers were already back up and past half-court before the ball even finished going through the net. 54-47 Lakers.
3:29 - Right out of a timeout, the Blazers turn the ball over. That's their ninth (!!) of the night. 56-47 Lakers.
1:27 - Jodie Meeks with a quick 5-0 run of his own, both hitting a three and putting Batum squarely on a poster. Jodie Meeks can dunk!? 61-52 Lakers.
0:00 - Well, after that first quarter, it could have been much worse. A few too many dumb mistakes for the Blazers led to easy points for LA. Take those away, shore up the transition defense, and this is a different contest. Portland still can't defend worth a lick, but at least the scored 36 in that second quarter. 63-56 Lakers.
10:56 - Lillard for three! He's been quiet so far tonight—maybe a big second half is in store? 63-59 Lakers.
8:18 - Welp, the Blazers are still getting beat in transition and still turning the ball over. So much for that halftime adjustment. 72-63 Lakers.
6:05 - The Lakers are playing with house money, and every time the Blazers get it to within a reasonable deficit, LA has an answer. A dunk by Pau Gasol just got the Lakers bench fired up. Stotts needs time. If Portland doesn't start playing with a sense of urgency soon, their hole might be too large to climb out of. 78-69 Lakers.
4:26 - Batum with the Dirk-like one-legged fadeaway! He then immediately stole the inbounds pass, but Portland couldn't capitalize on the turnover. That would have been a killer, but instead it goes down in the books as a simple two point play. 78-71 Lakers.
3:46 - I don't know if they showed the wrong replay or what, but Pau Gasol just picked up a foul on a play where Meyers Leonard's hand was three inches away at all times. If there was contact, nobody here saw it. 80-71 Lakers.
2:18 - Okay, this feels like a Lakers game. Gasol flopped, and argued for a foul call instead of getting back on defense. Mo Williams tried to go 1-3, had his shot blocked by two Lakers, and they then threw the ball down to a sulking Gasol for an easy dunk. The Blazers ran back and got a three-pointer from Dorell Wright. 82-76 Lakers.
1:55 - Wright for three! Again! This place is going nuts. The Lakers need time. 82-79 Lakers.
1:33 - Kent Bazemore, run killer. 85-79 Lakers.
0:30 - Neither team wants it. Back to back ugly turnovers. Not just standard turnovers, either—the demoralizing throw it into the third row kind. 85-81 Lakers.
0:00 - For as good as Wesley Johnson has been in this game, he's still Wesley Johnson. He fouled Batum on a three-pointer with the time ticking down to zero, resulting in three free points for Portland. The Blazers finally held LA to under thirty points for a quarter. Baby steps. 87-84 Lakers.
10:50 - Hey, a "Beat LA" chant. I take back everything I said about it being mean to kick a team when they're down. Beat LA. 89-84 Lakers.
10:12 - The Blazers just caused a five second violation. Finally, getting turnovers to match their own. 89-94 Lakers.
8:58 - My recap of this game should really just feature three words: turnover, transition, and defense. Rinse. Repeat. You can't bite into a lead when you turn it over after every defensive stop, and yet that's what the Blazers are trying to do. They are not going to succeed. 92-86 Lakers.
7:34 - Too early to call game? The Lakers just got their lead back up to over double digits. The Blazers are disinterested. 97-86 Lakers.
7:09 - Lillard missed two free throws--the first because someone sounded a bullhorn in the crowd?--but Robin Lopez was able to get the rebound. Lillard then hit a three. 3>2. 97-89 Lakers.
6:48 - Wild. Mo Williams took an intentional foul because Robin Lopez's shoe was untied. He told the refs what he was doing. The refs didn't stop the game, instead giving the ball to LA who had a mini-fastbreak because of the confusion. 99-89 Lakers.
5:43 - Mo Williams giveth (a three-point play!), Mo Williams taketh away (a turnover!). Portland can't string together back to back positive possessions tonight. They are down by nine, and time is running out. 103-94 Lakers.
3:38 - Wow. After four straight points, the Blazers were looking primed to make a run. They, of course, turned the ball over. Jordan Farmar had it one on one against Wesley Matthews in the open court, and Wesley straight picked his pocket. Batum ended up with the ball at the three-point line with nobody on him, nor anyone in his way to the hoop. He opted to settle for the three. Swish. 103-101 Lakers.
1:35 - Down two, Lillard with the ball. Traveling. Turnover. I'm no basketball expert, but I'm pretty sure 20 turnovers in a game is bad. Lakers get the ball back after the timeout. 105-103 Lakers.
1:10 - Matthews ties it! 105-105 Tie.
0:34 - Lakers miss, Lakers foul. Lillard drove to the hoop and drew contact, now he's going to the line to give the Blazers the lead. First one down! Second one rattles out, but Dame got his own rebound! Timeout Portland! 106-105 Blazers.
0:07 - Wild! Matthews missed a three, the Lakers grabbed the rebound and Kent Bazemore ran out into transition. He tried to split a double between Batum and Matthews and lost the ball out of bounds. The call on the floor is Blazers ball, which is being reviewed now. The "Beat LA" chants are raining down. 106-105 Blazers.
0:07 - The call is reversed. Lakers ball. Not sure how the refs got that, but okay. 106-105 Blazers.
0:06 - The Lakers run an out of bounds alleyoop for Wesley Johnson...and it worked. Aldridge missed it by about a quarter of an inch. Portland will have one more shot. 107-106 Lakers.
0:00 - Dame tries to be the hero, but it was a terrible, contested shot. That had no hope. Game over, man.
FINAL: 107-106 Lakers. Ugh. Losing to the Lakers is always a bad look. Losing to these Lakers is even worse. Portland couldn't get out of their own way, turing the ball over too many times and letting the Lakers get to their spots in transition. So much for that winning streak.