Posted by hiphopmama on January 5, 2009
Portland 86, LA Lakers 100
And we’re back to having the best record in basketball. Not that it means much in January, as made clear by the Celtics’ recent fall from grace, but I’d rather be up than down, I suppose. On a night when the other three biggies – Boston, Cleveland, Orlando – all lost to sub-par opponents, we managed to hold our own against an admittedly hampered Blazers team short of its All-Star guard Brandon Roy.
We didn’t have the most promising start, falling behind early by nine points (multiple times). And the damage would have been worse if the Blazers had hit even SOME of their open shots, of which there were many. Steve Blake, who has been stroking it from distance this year, missed a number of clear chances to stretch the lead, as did others, while only LaMarcus Aldridge looked to be playing with any kind of confidence. And boy, did he play. I remember him a little from his Texas days, but apparently I’ve never gotten a good look at him in the NBA, because DAMN this boy can play. He hit shot after shot against good defense, attacking the basket, falling away with a hand in his face, facing up from the wing. Between him and Roy – and Oden, if he can stay healthy – they have quite the nucleus of future talent waiting in the wings.
They lost the game, though, and by a considerable margin, because this is our year (or so I keep telling myself). Maybe if they could have built up a bigger lead things would have been different, but we played strong enough in the second quarter to go into the half up one, and we put them away in the third. That was really all there was to it. We were the better team, and once we decided to act like it, the rest came easily. Kobe glided to an easy 26 points in 33 minutes (11-of-19) and Gasol chipped in 19 on a ridiculous 7-of-9 from the field. It’s heartening to see him get fired up out there, and it seems to be resulting in improved energy for him. When they’re both on, he and Kobe are one heck of a one-two punch, and it was plenty to stop Portland.
I don’t have much analysis of this one – I watched it amidst family madness after opting to see Twilight (meh) instead of keeping my date with the Lakers. I hope they forgive me, but in the meantime I offer the following notes on the team:
- Ariza did a great job as the starter in Luke’s absence (hurt his footsie), despite voicing his preference for coming off the bench. (Don’t you just love this guy??) He contributed zero offense, but it wasn’t needed, and he had his usual hustle stats (5 rebs, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks). I still like Luke as a starter – I feel like it stabilizes the line-up and allows Ariza to bring that extra energy off the bench – but we could do much worse than Trevor as a starter and Radmanovic off the bench.
- Sasha continues to deputize well for Jordan Farmar. He had 11 points and a beautiful 4-point play, but most importantly he had zero turnovers in his 25 minutes. Along with the fact that he didn’t take too many shots and made them at a good clip (4-of-7), it indicates that he’s making good decisions in his new role at the point.
- I don’t think we should be looking to do much trading for personnel. We have the guys we need, now it’s just a matter of getting them to play to their potential. I know I’ve done a little bit of whining about Sasha and Lamar in particular, but they’re nothing if not committed and I can’t see us getting anything of real significance for anyone we’re willing to part with. Plus they know the system and are comfortable with the team, which is no small thing. I know it comes in the midst of a good streak for the Lakers, but it’s hard to argue that this team is missing much of anything talent-wise, so the focus should now be on getting mentally and physically prepared for the real test of the postseason. Whenever Farmar comes back, we’ll be that much deeper and further loaded to take on whatever comes our way.
Game recap, courtesy of NBATV:
Tomorrow we take on New Orleans at home before heading up north to face Golden State. The Hornets – currently our closest competition in the Southwest – are 20-10 and coming off a tough loss to the Nuggets on Saturday. They are, however, 7-3 over their last ten and Chris Paul is always a concern, especially with no true back-up point guard. We’ve already handled them twice on the road, though, so with our home form looking good – no, make that excellent – I’m hoping we can turn in another dominant performance before our trip to the Bay. Keep on rollin’, boys.