Hard foul, harder fall

Make it seven.

No matter the time, date, weather and roster, the Lakers come up to the Rose Garden, run around for a few hours, and leave with a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

It’s become as predictable as the precipitation in Portland, the Lakers now losers in their last seven trips here, the latest a 111-94 embarrassment Monday -- the Lakers’ most one-sided loss this season.

Furthermore, a scuffle late in the third quarter could cost them in future games, notably Wednesday in Houston.


Trevor Ariza was ejected after laying out Portland guard Rudy Fernandez on a fastbreak layup attempt. Lamar Odom could face a suspension because he stepped away from the bench and toward the ensuing melee, which happened a few feet from the Lakers’ bench. Sasha Vujacic, also on the bench at the time, took a step or two toward the fracas but didn’t go as far as Odom.

Ariza was assessed a Type 2 flagrant foul, which carries an automatic ejection, and could face further disciplinary action from the NBA. It looked as if he tried to throw a punch into the scrum -- possibly at Portland guard Brandon Roy, with whom he had words -- but didn’t connect.

Fernandez was carted off the floor after a brace was applied to his neck. He indicated chest discomfort but exhibited full movement of all extremities and was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. The Trail Blazers said he sustained a soft-tissue injury to his upper chest and side area.

Several players picked up technical fouls after the play, which happened with 2.2 seconds left in the third quarter and the Lakers down, 83-55. Roy and Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge were each hit with technical fouls for pushing Ariza. Lakers forward Josh Powell and Trail Blazers forward Travis Outlaw also picked up technical fouls for pushing and shoving among the crowd of players.


This certainly wasn’t the way the Lakers envisioned starting a stretch in which 10 of 13 games will be away from Staples Center . . . especially if they’re without an extra player or two, or maybe even three, in Houston.

“Trevor went for the ball,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. “That’s obviously going to be called a flagrant foul, but he went to get the ball and that’s what you do when you’re a player. It’s just unfortunate.”

Ariza, when asked if he was concerned about a suspension, said, “I hope it doesn’t happen. . . . I wasn’t trying to hurt anybody or do anything like that.”

Odom, for his part, denied stepping away from the bench despite TV replays that showed he did.

“I stayed on the bench,” Odom said. “I stood up, but I stood right there. I didn’t go nowhere. They’ll see it and see I didn’t go anywhere.”

On the good side for the visitors, they led by a point early in the first quarter. On the bad side, that was the end of their highlights.

The Lakers (50-13) trailed by 24 in the second quarter, their largest deficit of the season at that point, and were somehow worse in the third, trailing by 30 before fading into a loss, their third consecutive on the road after uninspiring efforts in Denver and Phoenix.

They are only half a game ahead of Cleveland (49-13) for the NBA’s best record and are no longer the league’s top road team, a distinction now held by Boston.


Next month, they might consider conserving jet fuel by simply staying home for their April 10 game at Portland.

They trailed at halftime Monday, 61-38, after slogging through their lowest-scoring first half of the season.

Their only players to score in double figures were Kobe Bryant (26 points), Pau Gasol (18 points) and Jordan Farmar (12 points).

Bryant, normally the last to leave the locker room, had already slipped out a side door and boarded an empty team bus by the time reporters were allowed in.

Roy had 27 points and Outlaw had 22 for the Trail Blazers (40-23).

“The reality is that they are up for this game, the town is up for the game, they point to these games and we don’t meet the energy,” Jackson said.

The Lakers now must get ready for back-to-back road games against Houston and San Antonio, neither of which will be uncomplicated, especially if they play with a short-staffed roster.