Lakers Gameday | 04/11/10 | Blazers
Play by Play
1 Huge dunk through traffic produced by Sasha Vujacic, his first since last season in Sacramento.
Strange Ending Produces L.A. Loss to Blazers
- GAME RECAP
- GAME PREVIEW
- INJURY REPORT
- GAME NOTES
Blazers hold off Lakers, improve playoff position
By GREG BEACHAM
LOS ANGELES(AP) Martell Webster hit three free throws with 3.1 seconds left, and the Portland Trail Blazers improved their chances of avoiding the Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs with a 91-88 victory over the defending NBA champions Sunday.
Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher combined to miss three free throws in the final 6.9 seconds, and Pau Gasol missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the top-seeded Lakers, who have lost six of nine.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers, who lost leading scorer Brandon Roy at halftime with a sore right knee. Webster scored 16 points and Andre Miller added 15 for the Blazers, while Marcus Camby had 10 points and 17 rebounds, including a go-ahead tip-in basket with 12.7 seconds left.
Portland (49-31) also snapped a five-game road losing streak against the Lakers while moving into a seventh-place tie with San Antonio in the Western Conference standings. Given the Blazers' two-month surge, they probably don't care who they face: They haven't lost back-to-back games since Feb. 19-21.
Gasol had 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, while Bryant had 20 points on 8-of-23 shooting. After clinching the top seed by beating Minnesota on Friday, the Lakers simply are trying to stay healthy before the playoffs begin in a week - but Bryant still decided not to shut himself down for the regular season.
Bryant took the Lakers' last two games off to rest his litany of injuries, most prominently his swollen right knee. Bryant also has a broken bone in a finger on his shooting hand and a sprained ankle.
After a rocky performance that didn't include a free throw until the final 31 seconds, Bryant made a 3-pointer and a three-point play in the final minute while Los Angeles rallied from a seven-point deficit to take an 87-86 lead. But after Camby's tip-in, Bryant clanged two free throws.
Gasol rebounded Bryant's second miss and got it to Fisher, who was fouled by Miller - but the veteran point guard also missed his first free throw before tying it with 4.7 seconds to play.
Fisher then fouled Webster, reaching in on a desperation 3-point attempt - although Bryant also could have been called for contact. The reserve swingman coolly made three straight free throws for the second time in the final 3:34.
Roy, the Blazers' leading scorer with 21.8 points per game, played 11 minutes in the first half before the Blazers ruled him out at halftime with knee soreness. Roy had struggled with a sore back in recent days, missing practice to rest up for the playoffs.
Bryant picked up his 14th technical foul of the season after the first quarter, leaving him just two shy of incurring an automatic one-game suspension, although it wouldn't apply to a playoff game if Bryant got his 16th T in Wednesday's season finale against the Clippers.
NOTES: Evan Turner, the AP college player of the year, attended the game with his mother. The Ohio State star has been getting text messages and advice on his entry into the NBA draft from Bryant. ... Ron Artest had six assists in the first 9 1/2 minutes, but didn't get another. ... Roy has missed three road games against the Lakers with injuries earlier in his career. ... Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and David Beckham watched the game together from seats next to the Lakers' bench. The crowd also included director Peter Berg, comedians George Lopez and Rob Riggle, Bengals WR/reality-show dancer Chad Ochocinco, and singers Natalie Cole and Neil Diamond, who mouthed the chorus to ``Sweet Caroline'' when his song played in the arena.
Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
Lakers’ Coach Phil Jackson on what he hopes to accomplish in the remaining regular season games:
“Well there’s not much left for us to accomplish as for that, except for wins. You always want to put wins the column. But we want to get some guys playing, we want to get some rhythm, we want to use some of things that we’re going to use in the playoffs to our advantage. We have some things that we want to correct and we have an opportunity to work on it.”
On whether he will rest the players in preparation for the playoffs:
“They’ll play, they won’t play heavy minutes but they’ll certainly play. We’ll play guys in the minutes that they’re accustomed to, 30 minutes hopefully, at least. So that they get the work and we’ll try to keep guys out of 40 minute games.”
On the Blazers’ scoring in tonight’s game:
“Well some of that is just natural rotation. The fact that a player like Brandon Roy went out of the game and they had to use somebody off the bench for 40 minutes, or whatever. Somebody’s gonna be out there playing and when you play minutes, someone’s gonna score.
On the difference between now and in the playoffs:
“Well I told the staff when we were sitting out there on the bench and watching the game that the level of intensity is gonna be so different in one week. From this Sunday to next Sunday, there is going to be an incredible amount of difference in intensity that’s there in the games. The critical nature of every play becomes very obvious. If we can match that, we’ll be fine.”
On what the Lakers’ can improve upon:
“We would like to get a practice down here in STAPLES actually, because of the way we shot the ball today. We’ll try to get a practice here and we’ll try to get some things done that we want to get accomplished. A lot of it is film work and about execution, defensive stances.”
Lakers Guard Kobe Bryant on his missed free throws at the end of the game:
“I haven’t been shooting free throws very well, anyway. I’m trying to brush up on them, change it up a little bit and get it right for the playoffs.”
On his knee:
“It’s a little rusty, a little stiff from not playing, not being active. I’ll be fine. It’s nice to get out there and play a little bit, loosen up the joints a little bit.”
On taking a few games off:
“The rest did me good. You can’t rest too much because then you get rusty and your joints get stiff.”
Lakers Forward Pau Gasol on what the Lakers need to do for the playoffs:
“Everyone needs to step up their game and produce a little more to beat the best teams out there. Otherwise if we continue like this it is going to be tough.”
On Lakers’ performance compared to this time last season:
“We are not playing as well as we were last year. We are more banged up than we were last year. We had Andrew out but we have guys struggling with injuries and we are trying to get them back in the game. We all want to be healthy for that last run.”
Lakers Forward Lamar Odom on how this game got away in the second half:
“We just didn’t make enough defensive plays throughout the game. I guess their defense was better than ours.”
On how this season compares to last season:
“Teams are different. They way you view teams, they way teams view you is different. Everybody wants to play their best game against us. We’ll take our licks.”
Blazers’ Coach Nate McMillan on Brandon Roy’s injury:
“Yea we’re hoping that it’s not too serious. We decided to hold him the second half and get some x-rays and we’ll look at him again tomorrow.”
On the end of today’s game:
“Crazy. That was just crazy. We fouled Kobe, they foul us, Kobe missed two free throws, Fisher missed a free throw. I mean, just a crazy ending. I’m glad we were on the winning side of that though.”
On this game affects the Trail Blazers’ confidence playing against the Lakers:
“I feel and I’ve said to our guys, I think we can play with these teams. And I thought the first quarter, we were kind of feeling them out and you can’t do that. We’ve got to be aggressive; we’ve got to be the aggressors. Then we started to play, I felt like, after they hit us in the mouth and we got up and played better defense. Offensively, we got some movement, started to attack. Defensively, you know, in the fourth quarter to hold them to 17 points is pretty good. I thought the last three quarters is how we have to play and if we can get that type of basketball consistently then we’ll be able to give ourselves a chance.”
On keeping Martell Webster in the game in the fourth quarter:
“I thought he was playing, you know, Kobe, you’re not going to stop Kobe. But I thought he was playing pretty good defense for us, making him get to spots and he was knocking down shots. We needed that out on the floor, both he and Rudy (Fernandez), we tried to make Kobe (or) Artest, one of them run on the defensive end of the floor… I thought he was playing pretty decent defense, he was rebounding the ball, and he was knocking down shots. Big free throws by Martell.”
On if he wanted his team to foul Kobe near the end of the game:
“When I huddled the group together, and told them… if they run with the ball we’re going to trap Kobe and at that time Martell was on the bench, he didn’t think he was in the game so he didn’t hear me give the instructions on what we wanted to do if Kobe had the ball and as I was telling them to red. He thought I was saying foul so the communication, again, weird situation. We definitely didn’t want to foul in that situation.”
On this game foreshadowing the potential playoff matchup:
“Well, you know, the Lakers are good. And whoever we face is going to be a challenge. It’s been a tough, grinded-out type of game every time we’ve played them and it was the same thing tonight.”
Portland Trail Blazers’ Martell Webster on today’s game:
“It was definitely hostile out there. That’s the kind of atmosphere that will be there in the play-offs. It’s a good chance we might be playing these guys in the first round. So going out there you can have butterflies, but once that ball tips in the air you got to let go and go. And we did that tonight.”
Thoughts before he made the three free-throws to seal the victory:
“Just making them. That’s what I was thinking when I walked up to the line, kind of visualizing myself making all three of them. I just went up there and shot them with confidence.”
On going up against Kobe Bryant tonight:
“It’s always a challenge going up against the premier guys in the league. Kobe is definitely one of those guys. Basically what you try and do is make him take tough contested jump-shots and I think we did a good job of that tonight.”
Portland Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge on the ending to today’s game:
“A little crazy. First fouling Kobe, then fouling Fish. Everyone was like okay, we’re trying to give it away. They missed free-throws and then Martell taking a one-legged runner. It was a crazy game. But he made the free-throws and we got the win tonight.”
On if the last play of the game was designed for him to take a shot rather than Martell Webster:
“I can’t even remember it now. It was but they played him a little different. He acted and it worked out.”
Portland Trail Blazers’ Andre Miller on today’s game:
“It was one of the weirder games, but it’s good to be on the W side.”
On the potential play-off match-up against the Lakers:
“We play them pretty well. We match-up well with them. We want to duck out of there in the first part of the play-offs but even if we match-up, I think we’ll be alright.”
Lakers vs. Blazers Game Preview
By BRETT HUSTON
The Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up the Western Conference's top seed with Kobe Bryant resting, leaving little reason for the reigning finals MVP to take the floor again prior to the playoffs.
The Portland Trail Blazers have plenty of incentive to move up and avoid the Lakers in the first round.
Portland has lost 14 of 16 at Staples Center heading into a visit with the NBA champions Sunday afternoon, but Bryant may again be on the bench in a game critical to the Trail Blazers' playoff seeding.
The Lakers (56-23) are 3-5 in their last eight games, but that slump hasn't been enough to damage their status as the West's top team.
Andrew Bynum has missed the last 10 games with a strained left Achilles' tendon and won't return until the playoffs, and it remains to be seen if Bryant might sit out the last three games as well.
Coach Phil Jackson gave Bryant a night off to rest his legs and aching right index finger in a 98-96 loss at Denver on Thursday, and the 12-time All-Star remained a spectator Friday. He wasn't needed in Minnesota, though, where Pau Gasol scored 29 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in a 97-88 win that guaranteed Los Angeles the West's top record.
"Advantage goes to the people who have home court, no doubt about it," said Jackson, who was non-committal about his plans for Bryant on Sunday. "It doesn't guarantee you anything. It guarantees you an extra game."
That extra game could mean a lot if the Lakers were to meet Portland (48-31) in the opening round. The Lakers had lost nine straight at the Rose Garden prior to a 99-82 win Feb. 6, but they've won five straight in the series at home by an average of 13.0 points.
The Trail Blazers can still finish as high as fifth but will likely find themselves in sixth, seventh or eighth. They had a chance to pull into a tie with Oklahoma City for sixth Friday night but lost 83-77 at home to Dallas in a physical, contentious contest that saw three Portland players earn technical fouls and several courtside fans escorted from their seats.
"I said (to my players), 'This is what we're going to be facing (in the playoffs),'" coach Nate McMillan told the NBA's official Web site. "You're going to be facing this type of intensity, where every call is going to be questioned. You have to stay calm on that floor and be able to get to the next possession."
Portland finishes the season by hosting the Thunder on Monday and Golden State on Wednesday.
"The next two games, it's going to keep that type of atmosphere," McMillan said, "and we have to be able to play with it."
Both meetings this season have come in Portland - Bryant sat out in February with a sore ankle - and the NBA's fourth-leading scorer at 27.1 points per game has averaged 36.4 in his last seven home games against the Trail Blazers.
Bryant wasn't the only star to miss these teams' most recent contest. That was one of 12 straight games Brandon Roy sat out with a strained hamstring.
Roy has only faced the Lakers on the road three times - missing three others to injury - and he hasn't been effective. The former Rookie of the Year has averaged 14.7 points and shot 36.2 percent.
Los Angeles is 5-2 without Bryant this season.
Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
Ron Artest (left heel bruise/sprained left thumb) will play.
Shannon Brown (sprained right thumb) will play.
Kobe Bryant (avulsion fracture, right index finger/right knee swelling) is questionable.
Andrew Bynum (left Achilles strain) is out.
Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) is probable.
Greg Oden (left knee) is out.
Joel Przybilla (right knee) is out.
SEASON & SERIES
The Lakers/Trail Blazers season series is currently tied 1-1, after the two teams split last season’s series 2-2 for the second consecutive year. The Lakers last won a series against Portland in 2004-05 and overall, have taken just two season series from the Trail Blazers in the 1990’s and 2000’s combined (2004-05: 2-1 and 1992-93: 3-2). This will be the 195th meeting between the Trail Blazers and Lakers with Los Angeles leading the all-time series 109-85. The Lakers are 5-5 against the Trail Blazers in their last 10 overall games. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 15-4 against the Trail Blazers all-time and have won 14 of their last 16 including five straight. With a victory 2/6/10 at Portland, the Lakers snapped a nine-game losing streak at the Rose Garden (their first win there since 2/23/05) and are now 3-15 in their last 18 games at Portland. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 18- 19 against the Trail Blazers during the regular season. In their first meeting last season, the Lakers held the Blazers to their lowest scoring total in series history in a 96-76 opening night victory 10/28/08. In 2006-07, Kobe Bryant scored 65 points March 16 at STAPLES Center, surpassing his own series record of 50 points established at home back on April 14, 2006 (on the same day Bryant surpassed Elgin Baylor’s single-season franchise scoring record of 2,719 points). In 47 career games against Portland including 41 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 27.8 points against the Trail Blazers. In his last 16 regular season games against the Blazers, Bryant is averaging 34.2 points (547). Portland guard Rudy Fernandez played for Spain internationally along with Pau Gasol. Fernandez was on the 2008 Olympic silver medal team with Gasol while both also played together on the gold medal winning Spanish 2006 FIBA World Championships team.
LAKERS CLINCH #1 SEED IN WEST FOR THIRD STRAIGHT SEASON
With their April 9 victory over the Timberwolves, the Lakers clinched the #1 seed in the West to secure home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs for the third straight season. Since the NBA went to the Conference format prior to the 1970-71 season, the Lakers have held the #1 seed 15 times prior to this season (1972, 1977, 1980, 1982-90, 2000, 2008, 2009), winning the West 12 times and the NBA Championship on eight occasions. The Lakers now own the #1 seed for the 11th time since the current format featuring 16 teams was instituted prior to the 1984 NBA Playoffs. Additionally, with a Phoenix Suns loss at Milwaukee 4/3, the Lakers clinched their 21st Pacific Division title in their 40th season in the division. Earlier this season, with a victory over Minnesota and a Rockets loss to Boston on March 19th, the Lakers became the 1st team in the West to clinch a playoff spot, marking their 57th postseason appearance in 62 NBA seasons as well as their 29th playoff berth in 31 seasons since Dr. Jerry Buss purchased the team prior to the 1979-80 season.
In the Lakers loss at Denver April 8 and victory at Minnesota April 9, Kobe Bryant did not play due to right knee swelling. On February 6th at Portland, Bryant missed his 1st game since 3/7/07, snapping a streak of 235 consecutive games played. Bryant’s streak ranked 5th among active players prior to his absence. So far this season, Bryant has missed seven games, bringing his career total to 93 missed games in this his 14th NBA season. In games that Bryant has not played but been on the team’s roster, the Lakers are 58-35 overall. However, since 2003-04, in 47 games without Bryant, the Lakers are just 22-25.
This season, the Lakers are 11-8 in the first game and 13-6 in the second game of back-to-backs. On the year, the Lakers will play 20 sets of back-to-back games, the most the team has played in a single season since playing 22 sets of back-to-backs during the 1999-00 campaign. Last year, the Lakers played 19 sets of back-to-backs, going 14-5 in the first game and 14-5 in the second as well. Charlotte, Detroit and Milwaukee lead the league with 23 back-to-backs each in 2009-10 while New Orleans (15) and San Antonio (17) will play the fewest sets this season.
THIRD TIME’S A CHARM...USUALLY
With a win at Minnesota 4/9, the Lakers snapped their 13th two-game losing streak since acquiring Pau Gasol on February 1, 2008 (11 regular season, 2 playoff streaks).
Of the 13 two-game skids, only once have the Lakers dropped three straight with consecutive losses 3/4 at Miami, 3/5 at Charlotte and 3/7 at Orlando (their FIRST three- game losing streak since January of 2008). On four occasions, the Lakers played the third game of the streak without Gasol, snapping each of them with victories 3/18/08 at Dallas, 3/30/08 vs. Washington in overtime, 11/17/09 vs. Detroit and 1/10/10 vs. Milwaukee. Prior to their early March 3-game skid, the Lakers last three-game losing streak came just a week before the trade, with consecutive losses at San Antonio, at Dallas and vs. Cleveland from 1/23/08 through 1/27/08.
Additionally, the Lakers loss at Orlando marked the first time that Los Angeles has been swept on a three-game road trip since April of 2005 when they lost 4/2 at San Antonio (94-95), 4/3 at Memphis (82-102) and 4/5 at Phoenix (99-125). They did, however, go 0-4 on a four-game road trip in March of 2007, falling 3/4 at Phoenix (94-99), 3/6 at Minnesota (107-117 2OT), 3/7 at Milwaukee (90-110) and 3/9 at Philadelphia (92-108).
The last team to lose three straight regular season games and win a NBA Championship was the 2007-08 Boston Celtics, who suffered one 3-game losing streak in February of ‘08. The last Lakers team to lose three straight games and win a NBA Championship was the 2001-02 Lakers, who dropped three in a row in February of ‘02.
50 WIN SEASONS
With their victory over Sacramento March 16, the Lakers reached the 50-win mark for the 31st time in franchise history (30th time since moving to Los Angeles prior to the 1960-61 season and the 28th time since the NBA adopted an 82-game schedule prior to the 1967-68 campaign). Since Dr. Jerry Buss took over the team prior to the 1979- 80 season, the Lakers have posted 22 50+ win seasons. It is Phil Jackson’s 16th 50-win season in 19 seasons as an NBA head coach.