Lakers drop another game in Portland
Reporting from Portland, Ore. — It’s no longer surprising when the Lakers lose up here. It’s now a tradition.
The only difference Thursday was the Lakers actually leading at halftime before being buried by the Portland Trail Blazers, 107-96, at the Rose Garden.
They are five-time NBA champions since Kobe Bryant started his career but are 6-24 in Portland in the regular season since 1996.
Equally appalling to Lakers followers: their team’s 2-10 record here since drafting Andrew Bynum in 2005.
The “Beat L.A.” chant started on the heels of the national anthem, which wasn’t surprising, considering how much Portland fans cared about this game.
So did Gerald Wallace, who had 31 points on sterling 13-for-19 shooting. And LaMarcus Aldridge, who had 28 points. And Trail Blazers guards Jamal Crawford and Wesley Matthews, who combined for 33 points.
It was quite the welcoming event for Coach Mike Brown, who never experienced the Lakers-Trail Blazers effect.
For the rest of the Lakers, it was merely a new chapter in an ever-growing tome.
Their long-distance shooting, already a cause for concern, struck a new low in a still-young season. The Lakers missed all 11 of their three-point attempts, the first time they failed to make one since a November 2003 game against Miami.
“Oh, wow,” Metta World Peace said. “It was bound to happen, I guess. I could have done a lot better.”
Bynum tried his best, totaling 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Pau Gasol added 19 on seven-for-10 shooting, but the Lakers couldn’t overcome a third quarter in which they allowed 32 points, wiping out their 56-52 halftime edge.
Long before their latest stumble in Portland, the talk centered on the torn ligament in Bryant’s right wrist.
During the morning shoot-around, he was getting it massaged and manipulated by a team physical therapist.
“He will never say it, but I know that the wrist [pain] is there,” Brown said. “It’s great to see him shoot the ball just for the simple fact that you know the wrist [pain] is there.”
Bryant had 30 points on 13-for-24 shooting, better than average accuracy, though he missed all four of his three-point attempts. One of them was a bad miss from 30 feet that caromed strongly off the backboard and led to an easy dunk for Wallace at the other end.
“As many players as we have commanding double-teams, myself and Andrew and Pau, we’ve got to be able to knock those shots down,” Bryant said of the missed three-pointers.
World Peace was wildly inefficient, missing all five of his shots and finishing scoreless.
On one play he appeared to airball a tip-in. Then he missed a driving layup from the side with nobody on him. He also dribbled the ball off his body and out of bounds while driving in the fourth quarter.
Trail Blazers fans couldn’t get enough of it. One held up a sign that said “I named my cat Wallace,” and showed an orange kitten with a headband.
The Lakers fell to 4-4 this season, 2-2 with Bynum. Portland is 5-1.
Brown didn’t want believe in the Portland jinx.
“I don’t feel that,” he said. “Maybe it’s wrong of me. They’re a good team and they had something to do with us losing. I thought our guys didn’t play the way that we’re capable of playing.”
An electrical failure delayed the Lakers’ flight by 90 minutes coming into Portland, grounding them in Los Angeles long before they stalled out in Portland.
Maybe they should have just stayed home.
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