Game Notes: Lakers-Blazers
This week’s sexy team is totally emasculated.
by Ben Collins
Well, thanks a lot, L.A. Lakers.
I spent most of last night’s Lakers-Trailblazers game violently hyping this Portland team, throwing around adjectives you hear about a kid in the seventh grade with a single mother, a specific teacher that he hates, a few MMA lessons under his belt and nothing left to lose.
For example: “This team is dangerous.”
“If this team keeps playing this way, there’s going to be some serious carnage in the first round.”
Then, after a skip pass from Nic Batum (who scored 25 tonight, by the way) to Gerald Wallace for a wide-open layup that no one saw but Nic Batum.
“Good God, this team is horrifying.”
Then my friend countered. “Yep, I’ve been talking to NBA people. Everybody’s scared to get them in the first round.”
Well, the Lakers found a way to be horrifying-er. Los Angeles 84, Portland 80. Real predictable, Kobe.
I’d feel like an idiot, too, if I didn’t see it with my own eyes.
Portland led almost the entire game until the end of the fourth quarter. The Lakers just kind of hung in, as they’re wont to do. Pau stabilized the front line, despite a Bynum-less starting lineup. (He’s serving a two-game suspension for clocking Michael Beasley.) Then Derek Fisher defied age and poked away two steals for two easy layups. One for him, one for Kobe.
We need to stop even calling it that at this point. He’s not defying his age. It is a truth: Derek Fisher does not age. He is a mermaid of the sea who has beached for several years to play point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, and he will return to the ocean when he sees fit.
This is exactly what Phil Jackson said after the game. Sort of.
“I think (Fisher) just gets better as the game wears on,” he said, then acknowledged it doesn’t make any sense. “We saved a game that, in this situation, we could’ve easily lost tonight.”
It was because of Fisher, yes, then Kobe. He camped out 15 feet out, left of the basket, midrange J, and then just softly drained a couple over Brandon Roy’s fingertips.
He does that. It happens. We need to stop pretending it doesn’t happen.
We also need to stop pretending he’ll admit that he’s hurting more than he ever has. He just looks slightly pissed off in press conferences now, ever since the All-Star break. His answers to almost all questions tonight were just one, elongated, “Uh, yyyyep.”
So that’s changed. He doesn’t care what you think about him anymore. Nothing else has.
Granted, this doesn’t make it any more or less valid, what I saw with Portland last night. I had been proclaiming them maybe the second-best team in the West all evening. I’m not sure that’s untrue. As long as the Lakers are number one. And here’s why.
“It’s like riding a bicycle,” said Derek Fisher after the game. He’s not talking about being a mermaid. “Sometimes it takes more experience. That doesn’t mean somebody who doesn’t have the experience can’t do it. It’s just that we’re more used to it.”
So they can just turn it on? Yep, they can just turn it on.
- The guy doing the national anthem is in a serious hurry tonight. I think he increased his draft stock considerably here. Definitely the fastest dude at the combine.
- Wow, a lot of hate for the Blazers in the house tonight. Or there’s just some leftover vitriol for the early 2000s version. Brian Grant! Brian Dudley! Never forget!
- Oh, no Bynum tonight. You can’t punch Mike Beasley and get away with it, no no. Not unless you’re Pat Riley, at least.
- Primary difference between Los Angeles and Boston: They’re playing the Black Eyed Peas before tip right now. A lot of people are singing.
- In the head. That’s where you’d get punched if you did that in Boston.
- Wow, inadvertant whistle. Two jumpballs at midcourt in 36 seconds before anyone scored. WEIRD WACKY WILD SHTUFF.
- The start so far: Pau dunk, Pau block, Pau dunk. 4-0, LA.
- Wow, this Portland starting lineup is tiny. Long everywhere, but tiny. Miller-Matthews-Batum-Wallace-Aldridge.
- I also love how Portland starts four guards and Brandon Roy isn’t one of them.
- Derek Fisher is still blowing by teams that aren’t set on defense.
- Nic Batum est en feu. Dunk, a few jumpers. 12-10, LA.
- I don’t care how good you think your team is, you don’t want to play this Portland team in the first round.
- Seriously, guys, Nic Batum is taking over. He just did that sweep-the-arm-through-to draw-a-foul thing on Derek Fisher, the Watson Jeopardy computer on adderall of the NBA.
- Because I almost died about 15 times in the Great Los Angeles Typhoon of 2011 today, I suck at being funny. Currently taking suggestions on GChat.
- One friend suggested that since Portland is here tonight, I should include a reference to hipsters in each one of these updates.
- Nic Batum gets another free layup. 21-15, LA. He has 11. He’s more reliable than a fixie bike in nice weather!
- Kill me now.
- Rudy Fernandez just airballed that three, which is the custom in Barcelona.
- Literally beating the shit out of a log is also the custom in Barcelona.
- I think we should ignore all of the customs in Barcelona.
- Wait, so Paddy Mills is a rotation player in the NBA? And by NBA I mean National Basketball Association?
- Pau only has two more points than LaMarcus Aldridge, but he’s kind of dominated the pace of the game. 27-20, end of 1.
- Woah. Derrick Caracter minutes.
- Island of misfit toys out there for LA. Blake-Brown-Barnes-Odom-Caracter. But they’re maintaining the lead running everything through Odom and Brown.
- I was getting really used to how seldom NCAA refs call fouls. It’s really nice. It opens up the opportunity for on-court knife fights and creative, never-before-heard swears. All that said, boy, these refs are picking funny times to, uh, “let them play” tonight.
- Statue of Liberty dunk by Shannon Brown on the break! Best dunk in this building this week! And that’s actually a legit compliment!
- Batum comes right back with this hanggliding up-and-under move. I want seven Nicolas Batums. Is he available in pocket form?
- It’s 35 up here. The Mavs just won to help out their chances at a two-seed. This is going to be a pretty itchy 3-6 matchup if it happens.
- Portland follows every single missed jumpshot. They’re not traditionally big, but they work really hard on long rebounds. The numbers just even out.
- Are the Lakers really on the bad end of all these calls tonight? This is weird.
- Once again, Pau is making everybody look silly tonight. 41-38. When he’s in the game, the LA lead grows. When he’s out, Portland’s too active to keep up to.
- Joe Smith, everybody! Yep, that Joe Smith. Playin’ basketball. In 2011.
- Batum for three. Portland leads 48-44.
- They’re really isoing Nic Batum two times in a row to start this half. This guy has to get some Most Improved Player votes.
- Bruce Willis is three rows ahead of me. If I’m in a Die Hard movie right now, I’m going to be very upset.
- Ron Artest does this chest-high dribble with only his right hand all the way down the floor, literally jumps on top of Gerald Wallace, then gets free throws. It seriously looked like youth basketball.
- Man, Kobe and Pau are really working for buckets down low. This Portland team collapses really well when anyone is able to penetrate.
- Lots of MVP chants for Kobe as he gets to the line off of a missed-dunk on a blow-by. I think LMA has a better case than him this year, but that’s just me saying how much I like Gasol and Odom.
- The ball movement on this Portland team is crazy. Batum just passed up a free three for a free Wallace lay-in. Sort of unfair.
- Pau is too good for anybody Portland has down low. Which makes me wonder why Phil Jackson isn’t exploiting that at all.
- The Lakers just turned the D up to 11, got a stop, then Odom tossed an outlet to Shannon Brown for a bucket and foul. 61-59, Portland. The only way the Lakers can do yhis is if they force turnovers and make these jumpshooters put the ball on the ground.
- It’s getting a little junky here, in transition, but it’s when the Lakers look best.
- Gerald “You Can Have Me For Two First Round Picks, Can You Believe That S–t?” Wallace goes the length of the floor six seconds left to score. 67-59, Portland.
- Matt Barnes hits a half-court shot as time expires. 66-62, Portland.
- Brandon Roy with a Brandon Roy circa 2009 fadeaway.
- Man, it’s sad that there has to be a Brandon Roy circa 2009 and a Brandon Roy circa Now.
- Fifth airball of the day, this time from Kobe.
- So, of course, he responds with one of those shots you couldn’t hit on 2K11 if you timed it perfectly on Easy.
- Rudy “Christmas Shit Log” Fernandez sure looks jovial out there tonight. Does he still want to go back to Barcelona?
- Lamar beats past everybody from the elbow. I think that’s your gaping hole, Portland. No second line of post defense. 72-68, Portland.
- Oh, but does it matter when Aldridge can just hit a jumper with a hand in his face? 74-68.
- Classic Kobe up and under, plus one, puts the Lakers within two before the free throw. Camby came down very badly on his right ankle in the process. He’s down for a while before limping off to the locker room.
- Kobe finds Pau on a laser pass. Those MVP chants seem considerably less funny now. 76-74, Portland.
- Fisher tips free a steal and Kobe gets a free dunk on the other end. 76 up with 2:20 to go.
- Another huge Fisher steal, this time telegraphing a pass, and a free layup on the other end. 78-76, LA.
- Kobe over LaMarcus Aldridge’s outstretch fingertips on the break with 1:10 to go. Resilient, folks. 80-76, LA.
- There’s Ron Artest instigating a fight at a really bad time again. He started elbowing Gerald Wallace in the head during a dead ball. Wow, what a needlessly stupid play.
- Fernandez hits the free throw. 80-77.
- Kobe. Iso. Fadeaway. Money. 82-77.
- Batum. Three. Yep. 82-80, LA.
- Five second differential. No foul.
- Fisher wet with a pullup. 84-80. Ten seconds to go.
- No urgency from Portland. Couple of missed threes. LA wins, 84-80.