Here are five things we learned from the Lakers’ 121-103 loss to the Trail Blazers in Portland on Saturday night.
1.) At some point, the Lakers will have to play some defense.
They gave up 37 points in the first quarter to the Trail Blazers, 62 by the half. So, no, the Lakers didn’t play much defense Saturday night against Portland.
They gave up 121 points for the game.
They allowed the Trail Blazers to shoot 50.5% from the field.
Lakers Coach Byron Scott said they didn’t follow the game plan, which was to trap Portland guards Damian Lillard (36 points) and CJ McCollum (28) as much as possible to get the ball out of their hands.
“When you’re not focused on the game plan and you don’t pay attention to details, this is what happens,” Scott said.
2.) The Lakers actually started playing harder in the fourth after they entered the quarter down by 25 points.
They cut the lead to 15 points in the fourth, forcing the Trail Blazers to call a time out.
The Lakers wound up losing by 18 points and even went back down by 24 points in the fourth, but they all saw what could be done if they focused on the right things, playing defense.
3.) The fans booed and cheered Kobe Bryant, all of them knowing this was his final game in Portland playing for the Lakers.
Bryant even had a nice exchange with a court-side fan.
“I had one fan courtside was like, ‘Man, I’m going to miss hating you,’” Bryant said, laughing. “I said, ‘I’m going to miss loving the fact that you hated me.’”
4.) During his farewell tour, Bryant has been asked to reminisce about his favorite teams.
Bryant said his favorite season was 2008-09.
“I’ve never played with a team that was so close,” Bryant said. “We played so well on the court. That was just a fun season.”
It was also the first season Bryant won an NBA championship without Shaquille O’Neal as a teammate. The two had won three consecutive titles together, in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
But the 2008-09 team was Bryant’s team and he was the leader.
5.) Once again, Bryant was critical of the AAU basketball system.
He doesn’t think it’s teaching the youth of today how to be fundamentally sound.
“It doesn’t teach our players how to play the right way,” Bryant said. “…I think everything is a reward system. I think the coaches who are teaching the game are being rewarded, in one fashion or another. It’s just a showcase and it’s absolutely horrible for the game.”
Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner