The first three quarters of the Lakers game against the Blazers was boring. The final quarter was one of the most exciting and frustrating quarters all season long. In the end, the Lakers made far too many mistakes and fell 91-88.
There are just two things worth noting from the first three quarters. One, Brandon Roy injured his right knee early in the second quarter and didn't return; and two, the Lakers led 71-69 and were 28-0 in home games in which they led going into the fourth.
The Lakers didn't score for the first five minutes of the final quarter. But the Blazers hadn't done much better. They had just a couple field goals and turned the ball over a handful of times. The Lakers went away from what had been so successful in the first three quarters - getting into the interior of the Blazers' defense - and instead settled for outside jumpers that weren't falling. It was sloppy but would get even sloppier.
Here's a rundown of just some of the awful mistakes made by both teams:
3:34 - Lamar Odom fouls Martell Webster on a three-point attempt. He knocks down all three to put the Blazers up 82-75.
3:04 - Rudy Fernandez drives into the lane with Artest on his side and both Pau Gasol and Odom help out, leaving LaMarcus Aldridge all alone for the alley-oop. 84.77.
2:15 - The Lakers swing it around and Derek Fisher throws a low pass
to Sasha Vujacic. Vujacic misses the wide open three-pointer.
1:55 - This one isn't so much a mistake as a bad break. Kobe Bryant
had a three-pointer halfway down before it rimmed out.
:55 - Derek Fisher forced Andre Miller inside and this time Lamar Odom doesn't help out and Miller gets an easy lay-up. 86-81.
:50 - Fisher plows into Webster, allowing Bryant to get off a three-pointer. The illegal screen isn't called though. 86-84.
:41 - Andre Miller barrels into Sasha Vujacic and is called for the offensive foul.
:31 - Bryant slashes through the lane and Aldridge attempts to take the charge but gets there late and is called for the block. Bryant's shot goes in and he converts on the three-point play. Lakers take the lead 87-86.
:13 - LaMarcus Aldridge misses an open five-footer but no one boxes out Camby who is there for the tip-in. Blazers lead 88-87.
:07 - Unaware the Lakers are in the bonus, Webster fouls Bryant. Bryant, an 81% free throw shooter, misses the first free throw...Bryant misses the second free throw!
:04 - BUT the Blazers aren't able to corral the ball off the missed free throw and Gasol gets the offensive board. He kicks it out to Fisher who is fouled by Miller.
:04 - Fisher, an 86% free throw shooter, misses the first free throw. He makes the second. The game is tied at 88.
:03 - The Blazers inbound to Webster who takes a dribble and then looks to put up a running three and he is fouled by Fisher. Webster makes all three free throws. 91-88.
:02 - But the Lakers still have one last chance. They inbound from half court and it somehow ends up in the hands of Gasol at the top of the key. He gets a decent look at a three-pointer but it hits the rim and bounces off of the top of the backboard.
That is a whole lot of errors in a very short time frame for both of these teams. One might say that maybe this loss is good for the Lakers because it decreases the chances they will see this team in the playoffs. But the Lakers have lost each of their recent games against all three teams they could potentially face in the playoffs.
Although the last few minutes were especially ugly, the rest of the
game was no work of art. After sitting two games to get rest a few
injuries, Bryant was just 8 for 23 from the field - continuing a streak
of horrendous shooting games. As a team, the Lakers hit 5 of 22
three-point attempts. The only positives were their lack of turnovers
(just six all game) and the consistent play of both Odom and Gasol. The
two combined to hit 17 of 28 shots and grabbed 27 rebounds.
The Lakers have lost six of their last nine and the only thing Lakers fans can hope for is the healthy return of Andrew Bynum in the playoffs. The loss puts them a full game behind the Magic for the second best record in the NBA.