No, this wasn’t a Shaq and Kobe feud, or even Phil Jackson stirring the pot through the media, but seemingly fired up after recent comments by Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 103-92 on Monday night in a convincing manner.
Just one night after Bryant called out Lakers’ management following a 102-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers came out focused on defense, and fluid on offense.
Lakers’ general manager Mitch Kupchak issued his own response less than an hour before tip-off, and the controversy continued. However, it seemed to spark the Lakers. For a franchise notorious for big headlines and stories, maybe a little drama was all they needed…at least for one night.
Led by Andrew Bynum with eight points and nine rebounds in the first quarter, the Lakers’ defense helped hold the Trail Blazers to just seven points in the first quarter. Offensively, the Lakers made it a point to go inside, with Bynum and Pau Gasol scoring the first 10 points for their team. By the end of the first quarter, the Lakers were up big, boasting a 29-7 advantage.
The second quarter was even, with both teams scoring 23 points, but the quarter belonged to Steve Blake who had 14 points on 5-6 shooting (4-4 from three-point range) by halftime.
The third quarter started off with Bryant scoring nine quick points within the first four minutes of play before the Blazers eventually went on a run, cutting the lead to as little as 14.
Midway through the fourth, the Blazers managed to cut the lead down to 10 before Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant were inserted back into the game. Both immediately hit crucial shots to boost the lead back to 14.
Mostly a result of active hands and solid rebounding, the Lakers had several fast break points (for the Lakers, anyway), and held on to win 103-92.
Bryant led the Lakers with 28 points on 13-26 shooting, four steals, three rebounds, and three assists. Steve Blake was a huge boost off the bench, scoring 17 points on an efficient 6-9 shooting (5-6 from three) in 20 minutes. Pau Gasol tallied 16 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists while his front court mate, Andrew Bynum scored 14 points (on 5-7 shooting from the field), and a huge 19 rebounds. Derek Fisher and Metta World Peace each had three assists, three rebounds, and two steals, with Fisher scoring eight points, and World Peace adding six. Andrew Goudelock scored seven points (mostly in garbage time), and Matt Barnes had four points and six rebounds while Troy Murphy scored three points.
For the Blazers, All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and Nick Batum were the leaders, with 18 points apiece (Aldridge also had eight rebounds, and Batum had six rebounds, five assists, and two steals). Jamal Crawford had 15 points, five assists, and four rebounds of the bench, while Raymond Felton and Wesley Matthews added nine points apiece. Gerald Wallace, who dropped 30 on the Lakers in their last meeting, was a non-factor, scoring just seven points. Marcus Camby was the Trail Blazers’ leading rebound man with 13.
Now, let’s break down the victory.
Next Page: The Breakdown