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Category: Portland Trail Blazers

Caught in the Web: Reactions to Lakers' 93-86 loss to Portland Trail Blazers

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Note: I will be interviewing Lakers forward Matt Barnes today where I will ask him fan questions. Leave your questions in the comment threads below and I will select the best 10. 

Game stories

--The Times' Mike Bresnahn details the Lakers poor performance in their 93-86 loss Friday to the Portland Trail Blazers.

--The Columbian's Matt Calkins says Portland was motivated to beat the Lakers so the Blazers could avoid them in the playoffs. 

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding believes the Lakers look uninspired.

--The Oregonian's Jason Quick looks at how the Lakers brought out Portland's best effort. 

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford describes Jackson characterizing the Lakers' effort against Portland as "lazy."

Notebooks

--The Times' Bresnahan details Andrew Bynum's food poisoning.

--The Daily News' Teaford highlights Phil Jackson's refusal to state his preference for a first-round opponent.

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Lakers have no excuses for 93-86 loss to Portland Trail Blazers

Lakers4_510 The Lakers played with so little energy in their 93-86 loss Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers, it'd only be plausible to think they just came off a competitive back-to-back followed by late-night travel.

The Lakers actually had the day off. It was the Blazers who played Thursday night in Utah, picking up a hard-fought win over the Jazz.

The Lakers played with such inconsistency, the effort probably came against a sub-.500 opponent, knowing playing down to their competition would reveal very little about the team's playoff readiness.

Ironically, the Blazers are a playoff team and they moved up to the sixth spot, which would allow them to avoid the two-time defending champions in the first round should the season end today after proving they're capable of giving them a series.

The Lakers played with such disinterest, it'd only be natural to assume they had already locked up the No. 1 seeding in the Western Conference and don't need to worry about home-court advantage.

The Lakers (55-24) actually have no chance to overtake San Antonio (60-19) for the top spot in the West, can't eclipse Eastern Conference leader Chicago (59-20), have no breathing room against the Boston Celtics (55-24) and Miami Heat (55-24) and only small leads over the Dallas Mavericks (54-25) and Oklahoma City Thunder (53-26).

There's simply no valid excuse for the Lakers to waste another poor effort and drop their four consecutive games after putting together a remarkable 17-1 mark after All-Star break. Those that cite the Lakers' 6-7 mark to close out the regular season last year conveniently forget the Lakers at the time held the Western Conference's top ranking and had health issues to monitor, such as Andrew Bynum's left Achilles' tendon and Kobe Bryant's sprained right knee. Those that mention the 2010 NBA Finals turned out in the Lakers favor must not remember the series' Game 7s that featured the Lakers benefitting from home-court advantage. And those that argue the Lakers exactly one week from now will put the mediocre basketball to the side and start focusing seriously on the postseason are correct, but it's missing the point.

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Lakers Chat: Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers

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Join the chat after the jump!

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Lakers vs Portland: Lakers keep on losing, this time to Trail Blazers

Lakers1_510 Trail Blazers 93, Lakers 86 (final)

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.

RELATED:

Lakers-Blazers box score

Lakers-Blazers photos

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Lakers' Bynum will try to play tonight against Portland

Bynum_275 Lakers center Andrew Bynum has been slowed by food poisoning but plans to play Friday against Portland.

Bynum did not attend the team's shoot-around Friday morning after complaining of illness. He thinks he got sick after eating salmon in San Francisco.

"It wasn't done but I ate it anyway," he said.

The Lakers played Wednesday at Golden State and stayed the night in San Francisco before heading to Portland on Thursday.

Bynum has been on a tear, averaging 12.7 points and 13.3 rebounds in March. In three games this month, he is averaging 11 points and 15.2 rebounds.

--Mike Bresnahan, reporting from Portland, Ore.

Photo: Andrew Bynum. Credit: Jason Miller / US Presswire

Andrew Bynum gets on team bus headed to Lakers-Portland game

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Despite missing Friday's morning shoot-around because of flu symptoms, Lakers center Andrew Bynum boarded the team bus en route to the Lakers-Portland game at the Rose Garden, The Times' Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner tweeted.

Both indicated that's a positive sign Bynum probably will play tonight against the Trail Blazers, though it was indicated he'll officially decide as the 7 p.m. tipoff nears.

Bynum has appeared in only one of the Lakers' three regular-season victories against Portland this season. He missed the 121-96 victory Nov. 7 because he was rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee and also sat out of the Lakers' 84-80 victory March 20 as he served the first game of a two-game suspension for his flagrant foul two on Minnesota's Michael Beasley. He appeared in the Lakers' 106-101 overtime victory Feb. 23, but he was little featured in the offense as he scored six points on three-for-six shooting in 32 minutes.

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Andrew Bynum. Credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times

Lakers informal poll reveals their belief Portland and Memphis would give them biggest challenge in first round

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The question left some players squirming, politely declining to answer no matter if I quoted them publicly or protected their thoughts in anonymity. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson immediately expressed his disinterest in the topic saying, "We've talked about this before and I've said no. I'm not going to talk about that." And then some players immediately shifted from cliches to honest assessments when I told them their names wouldn't be attached to the answer.

We're not really dealing with state secrets here, but it may as well be in the world of sports. I simply wondered which potential first-round opponent would the Lakers consider most dangerous. Of course, some refused to participate, mentioning how the they're more worried about how the rest of the regular season shapes up than worrying about who they face in the first round of the playoffs. But Laker fans surely do.

Fortunately, some provided answers. Based on the four players who were willing to trade their honesty in exchange for anonymity, three of them equally expressed concern about Portland and Memphis, while one other believed the Grizzlies would be the toughest opponent. Meanwhile, Lakers executive Magic Johnson spoke pretty frankly before the Lakers' 102-84 victory Sunday over New Orleans about which potential first-round opponent would give the Lakers the most trouble: Portland, because of the "hate factor," he said.

"They don't like us and we don't like them," Johnson said Sunday, walking in a corridor underneath Staples Center. "That would be a very physical and tough series, even though we would win and we're better overall. But they really know how to play us; they're well-coached and they're tenacious."

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Magic Johnson most worried about the Trail Blazers as a possible first-round opponent

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The Lakers may say it's too early to look ahead to the postseason. 

But Magic Johnson isn't in that camp. He can already tell which potential first-round opponent would give the Lakers the most trouble.

"The biggest challenge would be Portland because of the hate factor," Johnson said Sunday, walking in a corridor underneath Staples Center. "They don't like us and we don't like them. That would be a very physical and tough series, even though we would win and we're better overall. But they really know how to play us, they're well-coached and they're tenacious."

The Lakers have defeated the Trail Blazers three times this season, including a 25-point victory in early November. But Johnson cited the Lakers' two close wins against Portland -- a five-point overtime thriller at the Rose Garden in late February and a four-point win last Sunday -- as a reason why the Blazers would still prove challenging.
Portland has won nine of its last 11 games against the Lakers at home. It's too early to say whether the Lakers will draw that matchup. They entered Sunday's game against New Orleans with a one-game lead over Dallas for second place in the Western Conference, while the Trail Blazers were a half-game ahead of the Hornets for the sixth spot.
"They're big enough to play us tough," Johnson said of Portland. "There's other teams that I think would be a good series, but [Portland] would be the toughest series." 

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Magic Johnson on Feb. 18, 2011. Credit: Danny Moloshok / Reuters

Photo Caption Contest: Ron Artest gets chippy with Portland's Gerald Wallace

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No one should be surprised by this photo. This is what Ron Artest does, getting physical with opponents and adding instant toughness to the Lakers' defense.

In the Lakers' 84-80 victory Sunday over the Portland Trail Blazers, Artest and Blazers forward Gerald Wallace didn't back away from each other, prompting Artest to shove him away. The move drew a technical foul with the Lakers leading 80-77 with 44.8 seconds, jeopardizing their chances of salvaging a victory. But as Kobe Bryant said, "I'll take Ron against anybody any day of the week."

This leads to a perfect photo caption contest, and if you're looking for some ideas, here's Phil Jackson's play-by-play on the situation.

"Two guys getting after it and trying to out-muscle one another," Jackson said. "Wallace wasn't going to be out-muscled by Ron. Ron kept the action going, probably. I don't know if both of them should've been teed up. But [Danny] Crawford decided it was Ron's responsibility for the way it came out."

Photo: Forwards Gerald Wallace of the Blazers and Ron Artest of the Lakers get into a shoving match during the second half Sunday. Credit: Gus Ruelas / Associated Press

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Lakers grind out an 84-80 victory over Portland Trail Blazers by staying resilient

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Tugging at his jersey, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant yelled out to no one in particular.

He high-fived courtside fans. He pumped his fist in delight. And he stared out to the 18,997 at Staples Center with the signature glare that defines his intensity and competitiveness.

But Bryant appeared angry, even more so than usual, after drilling what he called "my shot" -- a baseline jumper over Portland's Brandon Roy that gave the Lakers a five-point lead with 32.9 seconds remaining. Afterward, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson remained coy concerning Bryant's emotions, saying, "It was just normal. You mean pulling his jersey over his head and running up and down the court was animated?" It became apparent, however, Bryant needed to let out all the frustration about the elements surrounding the Lakers' 84-80 victory Sunday against the Portland Trail Blazers.

In addition to nursing a sprained left ankle that took away nearly all his practice time and shooting rhythm, he also dealt with soreness in his neck and shoulder after accidentally butting heads with Minnesota's Martell Webster. Also, the Lakers learned they'd be without Andrew Bynum because of a two-game suspension for throwing Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley to the ground with his forearm, a ruling the Lakers unanimously deemed too harsh, saying the incident warranted only a one-game suspension, if any at all. The Lakers went through defensive lapses without Bynum's presence, allowing Portland to out-rebound them 45-35 and record 21 second-chance points. The Lakers went through a six-minute, 36-second stretch -- from the 2:23 mark in the second quarter to the 7:47 mark in the third -- in which they continuously struggled against Portland's zone defense and didn't hit a field goal. And there was the never-ending quest in adjusting to non-whistles, as indicated by Bryant first going to the free-throw line with 5:23 remaining in the third period.

"Yup," Bryant simply said in acknowledging that all those factors led him to burst out in frustration after his clutch shot.

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