The Lakers last night didn’t exactly look like gangbusters. And they’re probably not going to for a while. Nevertheless, it was still a bit of a surprise when the Dallas Mavericks handily beat the Lakers on Opening Night. And the Mavericks were without Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman.
But there’s no time to breathe. The Lakers went up to Portland to face off against the Blazers. There’s quite a lot of hype about their prized rookie, Damian Lillard. Just like how the Lakers have a lot of hype around their team. Who lived up to the hype? Lillard? The Lakers? All of them? Let’s check it out.
Both teams got off to slow starts before their explosions. The Lakers looked like how they did in the first half when they settled down. They had crisp passing (and they played a lot more two-man game) that led to good shots; they made four straight at one point. However, their defense continued to look porous. The Blazers themselves made three straight shots of their own before Dwight Howard stopped their momentum cold.
Still, for the Blazers to score 30 points in the first quarter? The Lakers were mostly like Clay Aiken on defense; they were invisible. Not only that but the Lakers, while they ran some good plays, weren’t exactly the excellence of execution on the offensive end. They were sloppy with 7 turnovers in the first quarter. If we’re looking for some positives, Pau Gasol is on again on the offensive end (he scored 10 points in the first) and Dwight Howard actually made foul shots (5 for 8).
Thriled that D-12 is making his FTs, but what the hell is going on with everything else?!
— Auntie Dee Dee (@SoCalGal64) November 1, 2012
On the other side, Lillard looked poised for the most part on running the Blazer offense (4 assists) and Meyers Leonard (their rookie center) was quite a bruiser. However, it would be wise for the Lakers to rough LaMarcus Aldridge up. Or something. He went 6/8 for 12 points.
The Blazers led the Lakers, 30-26, after 1.
The Lakers didn’t get off to a promising start in the second quarter, either, as they put in a line-up that literally looked devoid of offense. With the second unit in, the spacing looked awful. It felt like… well, check out my tweet along with a reply. That sums it up perfectly.
@thenolookpass I shall call it the 405 offense.
— Mike Lebow (@j83out) November 1, 2012
Dwight decided to will himself into the paint. He was banging inside and getting the Blazer big guys in foul trouble. He made six straight from the foul line, which is about as exciting as watching leaves fall from a tree but it was getting the job done. Dwight even got an alley-oop dunk from Gasol.
Their defense never seemed to improve and when the Blazers offense was getting a little sloppy, the Lakers didn’t take advantage. And it got worse for the Lakers when Nash and Lillard bumped knees. Nash went out of the game after he tried to play with it.
While the Lakers shot well (they shot 52 percent) scored a lot of points, they still turned the ball over quite a ton. They added seven more to bring that total up to 14 (they had 14 last night against Dallas). And just when we thought the Lakers were actually going to get the lead, the Blazers took advantage of a Kobe missed lay-up with a Nicolas Batum 3-pointer.
Howard and Kobe led the Lakers with 17 points at the half while Batum led the Blazers with 19 points. Lillard impressed with 9 points and 7 assists.
Nash tried to play with the hurt knee but couldn’t run with it any longer.
On a list of worst case scenarios, Nash being hurt is right at the top.
— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) November 1, 2012
And they kept it close for a little bit. The Lakers continued to go to Dwight Howard and for the most part, they were successful. Howard scored 12 points in the third quarter as Portland tried everything they could to stop him.
The Lakers had it down to 79-76. Then Sasha Pavlovic, who I didn’t know was still alive, went on a personal 7-0 run. It was quite embarrassing for the Lakers when they let Pavlovic get a lay-up after he missed his own freethrow. The Blazers finished off the quarter with a 13-0 run.
With Nash out of the game with a left leg contusion, it seemed like it was going to get worse.
And it was getting worse for a bit. Lillard continued to run around circles against the Lakers. Kobe got frustrated and T’d up.
The Lakers tried to mount a comeback while I was singing Adele to myself. They managed to cut it down to 11 points. And I guess there was this shot.
Batum made a three-pointer to quickly stifle the run.
Since I don’t have anything else left to say, I’ll let the fans have a say.
— LAKER GIRL (@LakersJo) November 1, 2012
Something is wrong in that locker room. Hugs all around, Lakers Nation! We’ll get through this! But first we have to #FireMikeBrown.
— Lei Solito (@heyitslei) November 1, 2012
— Donovan Strain (@DonovanStrain) November 1, 2012
After these tweets, the Lakers were able to cut it down to single digits after a Steve Blake perimeter shot and a Metta World Peace dunk. But whatever.
The final score was Portland 116, Lakers 106. The score was not indicative of how bad the Lakers played. Howard led the Lakers with 33 points while Kobe had 30. Batum finished with 26 points and Lillard had a fantastic game with 23 points and 11 assists. Lakers turned the ball over TWENTY-FIVE times.
Points: Howard, 33
Rebounds: Howard, 14
Assists: Howard, 5
Steals: Blake, 2
Blocks: World Peace and Howard had 1 each.