Gameday: Blazers 116, Lakers 106

GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Los Angeles Lakers 26 31 19 30 106
Play by Play Portland Trail Blazers 30 32 30 24 116

Lakers drop 2nd straight, fall to Blazers 116-106


Posted Nov 01 2012 1:28AM

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) This was not the start the Los Angeles Lakers envisioned.

The talent-laden Lakers have dropped two straight to open the season - their opener at home against the Dallas Mavericks followed by a 116-106 thumping by the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

To make matters worse, two-time MVP Steve Nash, brought in by the Lakers in the offseason along with six-time All-Star Dwight Howard, was injured late in the first half against Portland.

"We've got to learn how to play together," said Howard, who had 33 points and 14 rebounds in the loss to Portland. "You've got to be good before you can be great."

The Lakers' stockpile of stars lacked a sense of urgency against the Blazers, who led by as many as 19 points. Nicolas Batum had 26 points and Damian Lillard, the sixth overall pick in the June draft, had 22 points and 11 assists in his NBA debut.

Kobe Bryant had 30 points and Howard's output Wednesday night was a vast improvement over his debut the night before against the Mavs, when he had 19 points and 10 rebounds but made just three of 14 free throws before fouling out. The Lakers lost that one 99-91.

But it was apparent for the second night in a row that the Lakers were still getting used to each other. The starters rarely played together during an 0-8 preseason.

"We didn't expect to just come together and be awesome," Howard said. "It's always a process. We've got to stick with it so that at the end of the year we can have a trophy."

Nash collided with Lillard and limped to the locker room. Although the team initially reported he was fine, Nash struggled when he returned for the second half and left the game for good a short time later. The team said he had a bruised left leg. He said after the game he hopes to play Friday when the Lakers host the Clippers.

"We're not sharp," Nash said. "I think the guys are trying, we just didn't live up to what we're trying to do."

The Blazers, who finished 28-38 last season and out of the playoffs, opened their season with eight newcomers on the roster after an offseason rebuilding effort around All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Batum.

"People probably didn't expect us to come out and beat that type of team, but we've been competing very hard in practice, and we did that same thing tonight," Lillard said. "We were flying around, lots of energy. I think our activity kind of wore on them."

Portland pulled out to a 30-26 lead late in the first quarter after Matthews' 3-pointer. Lillard extended the lead to 35-26 with a running bank shot in traffic.

J.J. Hickson's jumper made it 41-34 for Portland, but Bryant answered for the Lakers with a 3-pointer. Batum's fast-break jam gave the Blazers a 46-40 lead and Portland went into halftime with a 62-57 lead.

Portland took its momentum into the second half, going up 72-64 on another dunk by Batum. Sasha Pavlovic's 3-pointer gave the Blazers an 88-76 lead just before Howard was called for his fourth foul.

Matthews' jumper made it 102-83 in the fourth quarter. Batum had a 3-pointer to make it 108-94 as the game slipped out of reach for the Lakers.

Batum's opener comes after an uncertain offseason as a restricted free agent. The Blazers got into a poker match with the Timberwolves over the 23-year-old Frenchman, eventually matching Minnesota's four-year offer sheet worth more than $45 million.

Batum, like the rest of the Blazers, was trying to keep the victory low-key.

"This was just one game, just one game," he said. "It was a really good win, but we've got to focus on the next game on the road."

Portland visits Oklahoma City on Friday night.

The Blazers wore new red uniforms for the opener and encouraged fans to wear red, but the crowd was nonetheless sprinkled with plenty of Lakers gold. Among them was a fan that lifted a sign reading, "I love Steve Nash."

"The morale is fine, but nobody wants to lose," Lakers coach Mike Brown said. "We've just got to focus on what it will take for us to get a win. That's defense, first, and then, obviously, we've got to take care of the basketball."

View More Photos

Points Howard, 33
Rebounds Howard, 14
Assists Lillard (Blazers), 11
Steals Matthews (Blazers), 4
Blocks Aldridge/Hickson (Blazers), 2


Mike Brown:

On the outcome of the game:
“There were times that we gambled a few times that kept us from closing the gap. I thought, defensively, whether it was in the pick-and-roll or the catch-and-shoot, we didn’t do a great job. We have to do a better job defensively in order to win some ball games, especially on the road. You look at 106 points on 50% shooting, with 21 assists—that should be enough for us anywhere to win a ball game. So, defensively we didn’t do a good job, and if you couple that with our turnovers… you give up 25 turnovers and 28 points, that’s part of the reason why your defense suffers.”

On the team’s turnovers:
“We didn’t pass on time and we didn’t pass on target. Portland did a nice job playing the lanes, and we didn’t try to get back door. There were a lot of reasons why we turned the ball over, from charges taken by Portland to deflections, but every turnover seemed to hurt us.”

On if the team hasn’t put together a complete game yet:
“You see flashes of us moving the ball well. You see flashes of us cutting well. You see flashes of us passing well. Even defensively, at times, we’re doing the right thing. But we haven’t put it together for 48 minutes, and I talked to the guys about that. We have to put it together for 48 minutes in order to be good in this league. Right now, we’re not doing it, especially defensively.”

On the team’s defense:
“They scored 116 points, and our defense is the same as it was last year. We were pretty good [last year]… not great, but we were pretty good defensively, and there was nothing that changed from there.”

Kobe Bryant:

On the outcome of the game:
“We had 25 turnovers, and many of them weren’t bad turnovers. It was really just things that were a little off. We’re just trying to get down who’s going to be where, the timing … it’s just small things.”

On the team’s defense:
“We’re just figuring out how to pick each other up out there on the floor. We’re not the quickest team in the world. A lot of teams now have very, very quick point guards and quick wings, and we just have to work on supporting each other and being there for each other, keeping the ball out of the paint and keeping guys away from the rim.”

On how to combat teams running on the Lakers:
“Pounding the offensive glass and having good defensive balance.”

Steve Nash:

On his injury:
“I got kicked in the lower leg, and got a nasty little contusion. I couldn’t push off and decelerate laterally. I thought I’d be OK, but after getting treatment I just ran out there and I didn’t do any kind of lateral movements, so right away it kind of flared up when I moved laterally.”

On the team’s defense:
“I think we’re a step late to rotations, and taking things for granted a little bit. We’re just not sharp. We’re not early on any of our rotations. We’re not necessarily proactive. We’re reacting, and I think it’s getting us into trouble.”

On the team’s effort:
“I think guys are trying. I think that maybe we just didn’t live up to what our expectations were. Maybe we’re thinking too much or maybe we weren’t switched on enough.”

Terry Stotts:

On the outcome of the game:
“Obviously it was a good win for us. We played the style of game we wanted to play offensively. We probably could have done a better job defensively. We didn’t defend the free throw line very well, but it was a good win. Everybody contributed. We got stops when we needed them and I liked the tempo of the game.”

On Lillard’s performance:
“Damian played well. We’ve still got to work on his turnovers – there were a couple possessions where I thought he tried to do a little too much. But really, on the whole, for his outing, for him to have 23 and 11 in a game like this was pretty impressive.”

On Howard shooting 15/19 from free throw line:
“Stats are a funny thing. They shot more free throws, they out-rebounded us by a ton, and we win the game. So there’s a lot of ways to win games. Obviously Dallas beat them last night and they didn’t make free throws. They made their free throws tonight and we won. So that’s just part of basketball.”

On Rose Garden crowd/atmosphere:
“It was everything I expected. It was great. I’ve said from day one that this is one of the best home courts, if not the best in the league. Portland fans are terrific. Opening night and they were into the game from the tip and had a big part of getting the win. We’re a relatively young team and we fed off their energy.”

Damian Lillard:

On the game:
“I just wanted to come out and be aggressive. Like I said before, make Steve Nash have to play both ends of the floor and that’s what I decided to do, make him work and try to make plays for my teammates.”

Did you feel comfortable out there?
“Yeah, I felt real comfortable. It’s a lot easier when LA is making shots, Wes is making shots, and Nic is making shots. I’ve got to give credit to them. They made shots and everything came easier for me.”

Do you think you might have surprised some people with this win?
“We might have. People probably didn’t expect us to come out and beat that type of team, but we’ve just been priding ourselves on getting better every day at practice and competing. We compete against each other very hard in practice to try and get ourselves better. We did the same thing tonight and got the win.”

LaMarcus Aldridge:

On the game:
“A great win, you know. I thought guys played great tonight. Everybody stepped up. We played great offensively. I thought our defense was really, really good tonight too. I thought we were very active, we played well on the weak side. We tried to contain those two main guys and we got a win tonight.”

On playing well and limiting turnovers:
“We did. I think guys played smart tonight, trying to take care of the ball. I thought we made the simple play tonight and guys had shots and they took them.”

On Lillard:
“He played great. He called the offense and made shots when he had to. A double-double is always big in this league, so he played great tonight.”

Lakers - Blazers Preview


Posted Oct 31 2012 2:43AM

The Portland Trail Blazers suffered three straight first-round playoff losses before their failure to qualify for the postseason in 2011-12 resulted in major changes for the franchise.

The Los Angeles Lakers' famous newcomers, meanwhile, didn't produce a victory in their much-anticipated opener.

The Trail Blazers begin their season at home Wednesday night against a Lakers team seeking to avoid a second straight 0-2 start.

Portland went 28-38 last season after averaging 50.7 wins over its previous three seasons when it appeared to be a team on the rise. Coach Nate McMillan was dismissed during last year's campaign and the roster has been overhauled along with a new general manager in Neil Olshey and new coach in Terry Stotts.

All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge, forward Nicolas Batum and guard Wesley Matthews are the mainstays with new blood brought in that includes first-round picks Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard.

"Like everybody, I'm going to judge this team by the way it competes," Stotts said. "That's one of the things that players, coaches, fans and anybody who follows the NBA (will see), the team is going to compete every night. If you're showing improvement, if you show that the team is going in the direction, it's playing a style of play that fans enjoy, that the players enjoy, that takes care of itself."

While Portland's new faces are unproven, the same cannot be said for those with Los Angeles. With Dwight Howard and Steve Nash on board, the Lakers are among the favorites as they seek the franchise's 17th championship.

Los Angeles, however, opened with a surprising 99-91 home loss to Dallas on Tuesday, and neither Howard nor Nash excelled in their club debuts.

Howard had 19 points and 10 rebounds while missing 11 of 14 free throws before fouling out with 2:02 to play. Nash managed just seven points and four assists with seemingly little to do in the Lakers' new offensive scheme.

Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 23 points and 13 rebounds while Kobe Bryant scored 22 while playing on an injured right foot.

"It's not the way we wanted it to go," Gasol said. "We know it's not going to happen for us right away, but we've just got to stick with it."

Howard could face another difficult night since his 16.5 scoring average against Portland is his lowest against any Western Conference club.

Any success down the road for the Blazers, meanwhile, could be contingent on the development of their rookies. The 7-foot-1 Leonard will likely match up with Howard in his NBA debut after being selected out of Illinois at No. 11 - five spots after Lillard was taken out of Weber State.

Lillard was second in the nation in scoring at 24.5 points per game last season and has shown flashes of his talent in the preseason.

"He's a confident, poised young man. He'll have some bumps along the way but he's going to have the ball in his hands a lot," Stotts said. "My expectation is that he's going to be very good opening night and he's going to continue to get better."

The Blazers have won three straight season openers since a 96-76 road loss to the Lakers in 2008.

Copyright 2012 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

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