Lakers enter Portland with a losing streak they would like to end
Portland wants to go streaking.
And no, the Trail Blazers aren't planning on going through the Quad and into the gymnasium.
Lately, the word "streak" has apparently just been a media talking point and a pre-game note. It was mentioned with such frequency this week that it caused Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy to release his frustrations about reporters bringing up the team's nine-game losing streak against the Lakers.
That streak finally ended for the Clippers on Wednesday in their 102-91 victory over the Lakers, who now have their own streak to break.
That's the eight-game losing streak the Lakers have at the Rose Garden entering tonight's game against the Portland Trail Blazers, a bad habit that formed since the Lakers last won in Portland on Feb. 23, 2005.
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson jokingly cited Portland's dreary climate as the reason for the depressing results, but then he seriously credited the Trail Blazers' focus on forcing others beyond Kobe Bryant to score (not a bad strategy, especially considering Jackson's admission that Bryant aggravated an injury to his right index finger in Tuesday's win against Houston).
"It’s not the building," Bryant said. "It’s the team."
Jackson said he views the Lakers' 6-1 home record wedged between those road losses as diluting the substance of this eight-game losing streak. Nonetheless, the streak has prompted him to alter the team's travel arrangements and pre-game routines in Portland, but to no avail.
"Obviously not," Jackson said, laughing when asked if he thinks the approach worked.
If the Lakers think they have health issues with Bryant's finger, Pau Gasol's left hamstring (he will not play tonight, but he traveled with the team) Lamar Odom recovering from intestinal flu symptoms and Ron Artest coming back to full form from the Christmas night concussion, well, they have company.
The Portland cast is well on its way toward passing medical school, with season-ending injuries to centers Greg Oden (fractured kneecap) and Joel Przybilla (ruptured right knee), current injuries to forwards Nicolas Batum (shoulder) and Travis Outlaw (fractured foot) as well as guard Rudy Fernandez (back). Even the professor -- Trail Blazers Coach Nate McMillan -- is recovering from a ruptured right Achilles' tendon.
Though Portland lost two of its last three games and Thursday's practice featured a shouting match between McMillan and point guard Andre Miller, the Trail Blazers had won seven of their last nine beforehand with a depleted lineup.
Jackson said he suspects those aforementioned injuries won't deter Portland from further solidifying its home-court advantage against the Lakers
That's why Lakers guard Derek Fisher tepidly acknowledged this game provides extra incentive.
"I guess so," Fisher said. "But it won't win us anything."
-- Mark Medina
Follow the LA Times' Lakers blog on Twitter.