Lakers vs Portland: Lakers keep on losing, this time to Trail Blazers
It was yet another Lakers loss.
It was yet another poor effort by the Lakers.
It was yet another game in which the Lakers didn't have enough energy.
And now the Lakers have lost four straight games, tying their season high.
They seem to be a team waiting on the playoffs to start, a team just playing out the string in their 82-game regular season.
This is the same Lakers team that went 17-1 after the All-Star break, including nine victories in a row during that stretch.
Now it's a Lakers team that can't seem to win anywhere -- at Staples, where they lost two straight, or on the road, where they lost at Golden State Wednesday night and here in Portland where they lost Friday night at the Rose Garden.
It's not the way the Lakers should be playing with the playoffs a week away.
The Lakers trailed by 24 points in the third, by 17 in the fourth.
They tried to make it a game, getting to within seven points, but that was as close as they got when the game mattered.
All five of Portland's starters scored in double figures, led by LaMarcus Aldridge's 24 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. Gerald Wallace finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 24 points, but he was only 10-for-25 shooting from the field.
Trail Blazers 74, Lakers 62 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers opened the third quarter getting outscored, 10-0.
That put the Lakers in a 63-47 hole early in the third.
Portland just poured it on the Lakers, going up by 24 points, seemingly having it easy.
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson called two timeouts in a four-minute span.
That still didn't help the Lakers.
The Lakers missed a shot out of the timeout, and Brandon Roy scored to give the Trail Blazers a 74-50 lead.
When the Lakers finally started to play, they scored the last 12 points of the third and pulled to within 12 points entering the fourth.
They finally looked alive.
Trail Blazers 53, Lakers 47 (end of first half)
The Lakers went to sleep in the second quarter, falling behind by 12 points.
It took four straight three-pointers by Kobe Bryant for the Lakers to wake up and get back in the game.
Bryant missed on a fifth attempt just before the half ended.
Bryant had 14 of his 18 first-half points in the second quarter. But Bryant did miss all three of his free-throw attempts in the period.
The Lakers shot 51.4% from the field in the first half, but the Trail Blazers shot 55%.
Lakers 21, Trail Blazers 21 (end of first quarter)
For some reason, the Lakers continually failed to get back on defense in the first quarter tonight at the Rose Garden.
As a result, the Trail Blazers kept running the ball down the Lakers' throats, getting fast break after fast break.
Portland scored 10 of its 21 points in transition.
Still, the Lakers kept it close because of their work on the backboards.
The Lakers had 13 rebounds, seven by Pau Gasol, who finished with six points on three-for-five shooting.
Andre Miller led the Trail Blazers in the first quarter with eight points.
Besides wanting to sweep the four-game season series from Portland, the Lakers might want to send a message to the Trail Blazers on Friday night at the Rose Garden.
It's possible that the two teams could meet in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
The playoff matchups may not be decided until the regular season ends Wednesday.
The Lakers could possibly play the Trail Blazers, New Orleans Hornets or Memphis Grizzlies in the opening round.
If it is the Trail Blazers, the Lakers want Portland to know it will be tough to beat L.A. in a best-of-seven series.
Lakers center Andrew Bynum missed the team's shoot-around earlier in the day because of flulike symptoms, but Coach Phil Jackson said Bynum would play.
The Trail Blazers will play without center Marcus Camby, who has a bad back.
-- Broderick Turner, reporting from Portland, Ore.
Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant pulls up for a jumper over Blazers forward Gerald Wallace in the first half Friday night in Portland. Credit: Steve Dykes / Reuters