Lakers bottom out in Portland
"It was the Lakers," Blazers center Joel Przybilla said. "And we beat the (snot) out of them. And you can print that. In bold. And big letters."
I can do the bold, but haven't actually figured out how to change the type size. So Joel, this is the best I give you. But while it probably wasn't a great idea to celebrate by providing the Lakers with A+ bulletin board material, it's hard to argue with Przybilla's basic point. Monday night at the Rose Garden in Portland, the Blazers did indeed beat the (snot) out of the Lakers. Final score, 111-94, and that doesn't reflect the dominance displayed by the home team who led by as much as 30 late in the third. All night, the Lakers were outed. Out- defended, out-rebounded, out-hustled, out-executed. Out-everythinged, as the box score indicates. Kobe Bryant left the game without talking to reporters, something he almost never does. Really, can you blame him? It's hard to put lipstick on this proverbial pig.
In more serious matters, Portland's pasting of the Lakers was overshadowed by a very hard foul delivered by Trevor Ariza to Rudy Fernandez at the end of the third quarter that sent Ariza to the showers with a Flagrant 2 and the Blazers guard to the hospital for precautionary reasons. Fortunately, x-rays and scans of Fernandez and he was diagnosed with soft tissue injuries to the chest.
Ariza, who apologized to Fernandez after the game and made it clear he wasn't trying to hurt him, will not be suspended, as AK reported earlier this morning. The league is, however, still reviewing the ensuing dust up. It looked relatively harmless, though Lamar Odom could face disciplinary action for leaving the bench, a clear no-no, and looking at the tape Odom clearly wandered too far. (The best angle comes at the 1:38 mark or so of this clip. When you're done, click here and compare the calls for the two broadcast teams. It's interesting, for sure.)
Reaction to the foul is everywhere, but I think the league made the right decision. The result of the play was unfortunate, but nothing about it seemed particularly excessive or outside the norm. Ariza wasn't headhunting, but looking to make a play, and didn't do the pull down/follow through thing on the head and neck area that seems to get so many guys in trouble. Whether it gets reduced to a Flagrant 1, I don't know (nor really, do I care). If the league thinks it should stay a F2, that's fine. But additional punishment for the foul would be unwarranted, and I say that as a guy who tends to come down on the side of caution and safety on these types of plays.
I think suspensions should, for the most part, be held for plays that land further outside the norms of game play.
One thing is certain at this point: The Lakers/Blazers rivalry is back.
More postgame reaction from Henry Abbott at TrueHoop.