GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Los Angeles Lakers 21 26 15 24 86
Play by Play Portland Blazers 21 32 21 19 93


Aldridge, Wallace lead Blazers over Lakers 93-86

By ANNE M. PETERSON

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers prevented the Los Angeles Lakers from locking up the second seed in the Western Conference with a 93-86 victory on Friday night.

Gerald Wallace had 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Blazers, who led by as many as 24 points.

Kobe Bryant had 24 points in the Lakers' fourth straight loss.

Ron Artest hit a pair of 3-pointers that pulled the Lakers to 82-73 late. Aldridge made a jumper but Bryant had a pair of layups that narrowed it to 84-77.

Portland answered with Nicolas Batum's 3-pointer and Gerald Wallace's layup that extended the Blazers' lead to 89-77 and all but sealed the win with 1:14 left.

A victory by the Lakers combined with a loss by the Mavericks on Friday would have secured Los Angeles the West's No. 2 seed.

The Blazers were in a tangle with Memphis and New Orleans for seeding at the bottom of the conference. The team that finishes eighth will face San Antonio in the opening round.

Both the Hornets and Grizzlies won on Friday night, but Portland's victory kept the Blazers in the sixth spot with two games left. The Blazers were coming off a 98-87 victory at Utah the night before.

Portland was without center Marcus Camby, who banged his head on the floor in a collision with David Lee in a loss to the Warriors on Tuesday night. Camby, who strained his neck, has missed two games.

Los Angeles center Andrew Bynum missed shootaround early Friday because of a stomach ailment, but was in the starting lineup at gametime.

Portland took an early 19-14 lead in the first quarter, but the Lakers came back to go up 31-26 on Shannon Brown's long jumper from near the top of the arc.

Portland would respond with 19-2 run that gave the Blazers a 45-33 lead with 3:19 to go before the break.

Bryant almost single-handedly kept the Lakers in it, scoring 18 first-half points, including a 3-pointer that closed the gap to 53-47 at the half.

Matthews' running jumper, off a skillful pass from Andre Miller, put Portland up 59-47. The Blazers extended the lead to 70-50 on Aldridge's dunk.

The Lakers closed the third quarter on a 12-0 run to narrow it to 74-62 on Brown's layup.

There were some tense moments in the final quarter when words were exchanged between Artest and Wallace. The crowd at the Rose Garden responded by chanting Wallace's name.

Artest responded by hitting his back-to-back 3-pointers.

Notes: Bryant had four 3-pointers in the first half. ... Trail Blazers great Terry Porter, now a part of the franchise's broadcast team, celebrated his 48th birthday on Friday. ... The Lakers lost four straight earlier this season from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1. ... Bynum fouled out with 2:46 left. ... The Lakers had 17 turnovers to Portland's nine.


Copyright 2011 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




9 Blazers turnovers in a well-controlled game for the home team until the fourth quarter, when they committed five of those T.O.'s.

12 Points scored by Kobe Bryant in a two-minute stretch of the second quarter, all on three-pointers. He scored 12 points total during his other 20 minutes of playing time.

13 Rebounds for Pau Gasol, with a stomach-virus ridden Andrew Bynum managing just six in his 32 minutes. Bynum had grabbed 23 and 17 in L.A.'s last two games.

20 Fastbreak points scored by the Blazers, L.A. failing to get back in transition repeatedly.

29 Shooting percentage for the Lakers in a second half in which they scored just 36 points.




View More Photos


Points Bryant 24, 10-25 FG
Rebounds Odom 14, 3 OFF 11 DEF
Assists Bryant 4
Steals Bynum, Gasol 2
Blocks Bynum 2


POSTGAME QUOTES


HEAD COACH PHIL JACKSON

On why the Lakers lost the game: “We were lazy and inefficient in the first half. I thought in the second half we just didn’t buckle down and do the right thing offensively in the third quarter. And then, when we had to start playing hard… these guys just don’t want to play hard right now.”

On why the team isn’t playing hard:
“I think it’s a product of knowing where their position is [in the playoffs], and just playing.”

On how he feels about the team heading into the playoffs:
“It matters how you play in the playoffs, it really does. But I hate to have this set-up going into the playoffs where we’re just not playing hard.”

On if he feels the team would be playing differently if this were the playoffs:
“I have no explanation for not getting back on defense… and turnovers. We don’t need to have turnovers, and we haven’t in the past month. Giving up easy baskets is just a recipe for a loss.”

On the team’s four-game losing streak:
“It’s a product of not paying attention, not being focused and not playing the game with the right attitude. As a result, we end up with some losses. Guys are playing limited minutes. They’re not playing forty-minute games to stem the tide, but all-in-all you have to come out and play basketball the right way if you’re going to have the right effect.”

On what he wants to see out of his team to close out the season:
“Just playing the right way. Just stop taking bad shots or looking and the referee when you get fouled and complaining about it. Just play the game.”







ANDREW BYNUM

On how he feels about the team’s performance after tonight’s game: “I think after practice we’ll be alright.”

On how he feels about the final games of the season:
“We need to win to secure our position in second, so these games are definitely important.”

On what the team has to do to start playing better:
“Go out and play hard from the start. Stop trying to turn it on and come back.”






PAU GASOL

On the team’s losing streak: “We’ve had some tough games. They’ve been playing us tough, and sometimes we’ve responded better than others. We’ve played well in spurts, but not well enough to beat certain teams.”

On if he agrees with Coach Jackson’s assessment that the team is playing lazily:
“I would more so say those qualifications about the Utah game and the Golden State game. Tonight we fought more. We had a terrible start to the third quarter. We put ourselves in a big hole, we did a poor job in the first half on transition defense coming off of bad shots in our offense, and turnovers. But I don’t think it was a lack of effort out there tonight.”

On having a size advantage against Portland:
“They know that we are bigger inside. They were doubling from the baseline quickly, but I think we still had to make more of an effort to get the ball in there, create that double team, kick it out and take advantage of the open man. But we got there maybe once a quarter, if that, so obviously when Andrew and myself caught it we wanted to be productive. I don’t think we put enough emphasis on that as the game went along.”





HEAD COACH NATE McMILLAN

On speeding up tempo:  “We have to try and take advantage of our speed. We’ve gone to that lineup before and really for that reason to try and speed up the game and spread the floor. Tonight, I thought our guys did a nice job of the game plan. Nic was really good on Gasol, L.A. on Bynum, weak-side help was really good. Then transition, it’s been a while since we’ve seen us with 20 fast break points. So good job of getting this game to our tempo.”

What does Gerald Wallace bring to the team?
“He’s fearless. We’re sitting there and I’m saying, ‘Somebody take a charge.’ And at that time, I’m thinking Bynum is out of control and there appears Gerald. That’s the type of guy he is. You’ve got a 7-footer coming down the paint, nobody but you and him, and he gives up his body and steps in front of that kid. I would say 90 percent of the league would not have done that. That was a big play – that was a huge play. He just makes plays, both ends of the floor. He plays fearless, he throws his body around, he gives up his body, and that’s how you have to play to win these types of games.”

On using this game to prepare for playoffs:
“We know they’re the defending champions and we’re coming off a back-to-back. We felt like the last two games [against the Lakers] we had a chance to win and we really wanted to prove to ourselves that we could do it. It was going to be a tough challenge tonight without Camby, coming off the back-to-back, they had dropped three and we just felt like if we could get to our tempo tonight, we would have a chance. I tought the difference tonight was we were able to finish. It was starting to look very similar to the last two games, Kobe getting hot. But I thought Wesley did a real nice job of just trying to make Kobe work, staying in front of him.”

On Miller:
“He’s been doing a good job of just leading the team, getting us to the tempo we want tonight, it starts with the point guard getting the ball up the floor. He did a nice job of advancing the ball, making plays. Kobe did a nice job of working him defensively and we went to Gerald bringing the ball up and running some pick and rolls and just making that adjustment to pretty much what they had done in the last two games, pressure Dre and try to wear him down, but Gerald was able to make some plays tonight.”

Did you feel playoff atmosphere/intensity?
“Oh yeah, but whenever we play the Lakers, our fans are into it and the energy is going to be in the building. I thought our guys tonight looked pretty fresh even after coming off a back-to-back. So I thought they were ready tonight to play the game. Yeah, it’s that time. I thought they played the game, they played their players and I think they were trying to break that losing streak, so both teams came out to play.”




WESLEY MATTHEWS

On breaking game open in third quarter:
“Just playing hard, playing hard and executing, making plays and getting stops at the same time.”

On not getting swept by Lakers:
“You never want to have a team say that they beat you every time because you never know what’s going to happen, especially in this playoff run. We don’t want, if we do matchup with the Lakers, them to be able to go back and say, ‘well, we took care of them four times during the regular season. So it was big for us to get a win, and actually pull a win out when we felt like we had them twice before.”

On defending Kobe, holding him to 10-of-25 shooting:
“Just play him. You can never shut out a player like that, you just try to make everything as difficult as possible and hope he misses.”



LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE

“You never want to get swept by anyone. We felt like we had them twice, but we didn’t execute down the stretch and we gave it away, so tonight, actually executing down the stretch and winning the game felt good for us.

“It was big, a big win. But you can’t put too much on any one game. But whenever you can beat the Lakers, the defending champs, it’s always a good game, a good night for you.”













LAKERS VS. BLAZERS GAME PREVIEW

By KATE HEDLIN, STATS Writer

The Los Angeles Lakers know they won't be the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, but a recent slump has kept them from locking up the No. 2 spot.

The Lakers will try to avoid their fourth straight loss Friday night when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers, looking to complete a season sweep for the first time in 22 years.

With four games remaining, Los Angeles (55-23) has a two-game lead over Dallas for the second seed in the West. Despite their current skid, the Lakers have maintained that lead because the Mavericks have dropped four in a row.

Los Angeles was eliminated from contention for the No. 1 seed after a 95-87 loss to Golden State on Wednesday. The Lakers had 17 turnovers and were held to 90 or fewer points for the third straight game.

"We looked a little heavy, a little sluggish," said Kobe Bryant, who scored 25 points. "We looked a little fatigued. Guys have to really take care of their bodies and get rest when they need to and get re-energized a little bit."

The Lakers have shot 41.2 percent in the last three games while connecting on only 22.8 percent of their 3-pointers. They're also averaging 18.7 turnovers - more than five above their season average.

Those numbers alarm coach Phil Jackson as the poor performances continue to mount with the playoffs approaching.

"I'm really concerned about the way we were shooting the basketball," Jackson said. "We need to start playing in rhythm."

Ron Artest is one player that is in a slump. He's averaging 5.8 points and shooting 27.6 percent in four games this month.

A loss Friday would match Los Angeles' longest losing streak of the season, set Nov. 26-Dec. 1—the team's first since the 2006-07 season.

Depending on the results over the next week, the Lakers could end up facing the Trail Blazers (46-33) in the first round of the playoffs. Portland is in sixth place after a 98-87 win over Utah on Thursday, moving one-half game ahead of New Orleans and 1 1/2 in front of Memphis.

The Lakers have won three meetings against the Blazers and are trying for their first season sweep since 1988-89. They've won their last two visits to the Rose Garden after losing 22 of 26.

Despite his team's lack of success there, Bryant has scored at least 32 points in his last three visits to Portland and is averaging 34.1 points his last 14 games there.

The Blazers picked up their third win in four games with Thursday's victory.Gerald Wallace scored 20 of his 29 points in the second half as he continues to get more acclimated to the offense, and Nicolas Batum added 21.

Wallace has scored in double figures in nine consecutive games, averaging 20.1 points on 54.4 percent shooting. The Blazers are 13-8 with him in the lineup since he was acquired from Charlotte on Feb. 24.

"Gerald was big for us. Gerald knows his role and he knows where his shots are going to come from and he's ready to knock them down," LaMarcus Aldridge said.

The Lakers were the last team to hold Wallace to single figures, limiting him to nine points in an 84-80 victory March 20.



Copyright 2011 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 Kobe Bryant (sprained left ankle) will play.
Devin Ebanks (stress fracture, left tibia) is out.
Pau Gasol (bone bruise, right knee) is day-to-day.
Theo Ratliff (left knee surgery) is questionable.

Marcus Camby (neck) is questionable.
Greg Oden
(left knee) is out.
Elliot Williams
(right knee) is out.


11/07 - POR @ LAL W 121-96
02/23 - LAL @ POR W 106-101
03/20 - POR @ LAL W 84-80
04/08 - LAL @ POR


Portland is one of the teams we might play in the first round so tonight's game is important. We must put forth the kind of effort that will not allow the Blazers to gain any confidence in case we meet them in a best of seven series. While it is doubtful that this is considered any kind of 'statement' game by either team there is definitely value in being able to control the rhythm and flow of the contest. The best way we can do that tonight is to clean up our act on the boards. In our recent losing streak we have simply not done the job in the rebound department. That fact combined with Portland beating us 45-35 on the boards in our March 20th victory at Staples Center should help us focus more energy in that area tonight. In the March 20th game (Note: Andrew Bynum did not play due to suspension) we also gave up 17 offensive rebounds and 21 second chance points. Those numbers usuall lead to a loss so we must do better in this area tonight.

Read Full Scouting Report @ Lakers Courtside Connection


GAME NOTES

SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers lead their season series with Portland 3-0 after dropping last season's series with the Trail Blazers 1-2. This is the Lakers first season series victory against Portland since 2004-05 and overall, just their third since 1989 (2004-05: 2-1 and 1992-93: 3-2). This will be the 199th meeting between the Trail Blazers and Lakers with Los Angeles leading the all-time series 112-86. The Lakers are 6-4 against the Trail Blazers in their last 10 overall games. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 17-5 against the Trail Blazers all-time and have won 16 of their last 19. After snapping a 9- game losing streak at the Rose Garden last season (2/6/10 at Portland, first win there since 2/23/05), the Lakers have won two straight in Portland but are still just 4-15 in their last 19 regular season games in Rip City. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 21-20 against the Trail Blazers during the regular season. In their first meeting of the 2008 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 51 career games against Portland including 45 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 27.4 points against the Blazers. In his last 20 regular season games against the Blazers, Bryant is averaging 31.9 points (638). 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. Portland guard and Los Angeles native Andre Miller (Verbum Dei HS) and Lamar Odom were teammates with the LA Clippers during the 2002-03 season while Blazers forward Gerald Wallace and Shannon Brown played together in Charlotte for the first half of the 2008-09 season.

SEED CLINCHING SCENARIO
Entering their game at Portland on April 8th, the Lakers have an opportunity to clinch the Western Conference's #2 seed with a victory over the Trail Blazers AND a Dallas loss at home to the LA Clippers. A Lakers victory AND Dallas victory would eliminate Oklahoma City from #2 seed contention while reducing the Lakers magic number for the #2 seed to one (a Lakers victory OR a Mavericks loss).

BUMP IN THE ROAD
Coming off an historic 17-1 record in their first 18 games after the All-Star break, the Lakers have now dropped three straight with their most recent loss April 6 at Golden State. The loss marks the fourth 3+ game losing streak of the season for the Lakers, an exceptionally rare occurrence during Phil Jackson's tenure as Lakers head coach. Only one other year has a Jackson-led Lakers team had four 3+ game losing streaks in the same season (2006-07: one 7-game streak, 6-game streak, 4-game streak and 3- game streak). Jackson's teams in 2005-06 and 2002-3 each had three 3+ game losing streaks in the same season. The 2007-08 and 2003-04 Finals bound teams had two 3+ game losing streaks each while the NBA Championship teams of 2009-10 and 2001-02 each had one 3-game losing streak. The 2008-09, 2000-01 and 1999-00 NBA Championship teams never had a 3-game losing streak during their runs to the title.

STRONG POST ALL-STAR BREAK PUSH
With their victory at Utah on April 1, the Lakers became just the 4th team since the league introduced the All-Star game in 1951 to post a 17-1 record (or better) out of the break. The 1999-2000 Lakers won their first 16 straight games after the All-Star break, eventually moving to 27-1 before recording their second loss. The only other two teams to win 17 games before recording their second loss after the All-Star Break were the 1990-91 Chicago Bulls (19-1) and 1997-98 Utah Jazz (17-1).

BRYANT NAMED KIA NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE MONTH
On April 1st, Kobe Bryant was named Western Conference Player of the Month for March 2011. The award is Bryant's 13th Western Conf. Player of the Month honor and 14th Player of the Month award overall. Bryant was also named NBA Player of the Month for December of 2000, a year before the award was divided into Eastern and Western Conferences for the 2001-02 season. The award is the first of the season for Bryant, who has won multiple Player of the Month awards in a single season four times (2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09). Bryant's previous Western Conference Player of the Month awards came in December 2009, January 2009, December 2008, April 2008, February 2008, March of 2007, December 2006, April 2006, January 2006, March 2004, January 2003 and November 2001.
Bryant averaged 25.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists while leading the Lakers to a league-best 12-1 record in March and bringing them to within 2 1⁄2 games of San Antonio for first place in the Western Conference. Bryant achieved several milestones in March: passing Moses Malone for 6th on the NBA's all-time scoring list during a 26- point performance in a win 3/8 at Atlanta as well as passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the Lakers all-time leader in games played in a win over New Orleans 3/27. Bryant also tallied a season-high 42 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in a 3 OT win over Phoenix 3/22 en route to the Western Conference Player of the Week award on 3/27.

JACKSON NAMED WESTERN CONFERENCE COACH OF THE MONTH
On April 1st, Phil Jackson was named Western Conference Coach of the Month for March 2011. The award is Jackson's fifth Western Conference Coach of the Month honor. Jackson most recently won back-to-back Western Conference Coach of the Month awards for games played in October/November 2008 and April 2008. Jackson also won back-to-back awards for April 2003 and October/November 2003. In March, Jackson led the Lakers to a league-best 12-1 (.923) mark. Prior to these honors, Jackson was last named Coach of the Month in November of 2001 before the award was divided by Conference.






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