Lakers and Bynum Box Out Blazers
March 24, 2012, 12:02 am
There’s good news and bad news about the Blazers hard-fought 103-96 loss to the Lakers on the road Friday night. The good news: Portland’s effort kept the game close until late in the fourth quarter, unlike the Blazers’ last trip to Staples Center that saw them score a grand total of 7 points in the first quarter and lose 103-92. The bad news: It’s still another loss—the team’s seventh in the past ten games.
In a game when Kobe Bryant shot just 5-17 from the floor, the Blazers simply could not match up with the bigger Lakers, especially center Andrew Bynum—who bullied his way to 28 points and nine rebounds. Pau Gasol pulled down 16 rebounds of his own to go along with 10 points.
LaMarcus Aldridge shook off a sore right index finger to lead all scorers with 29 points in 41 minutes. Wesley Matthews added 16 on 4-8 shooting from beyond the arc. A big bright spot for the new-look Blazers came from the play of JJ Hickson, who made his Blazer debut with an impressive 14 points off the bench on 6-9 shooting.
Hickson’s former teammate in Cleveland, Ramon Sessions, made his first start for the Lakers and scored 20 points while dishing out 11 assists.
Jamal Crawford had a chance to put Portland ahead with 25 seconds left in the third, but missed a 19-footer. He got another chance to give the Blazers the lead, but Matt Barnes hustled back after a Lakers turnover and blocked Crawford's fast-break layup with 9:57 left in the game.
Barnes then hit a 3-pointer 43 seconds later, and the Lakers eventually were able to put the stubborn Blazers away -- but not before Portland cut the martin to a single point three different times on 3-pointers by Crawford, Matthews and Raymond Felton during a 4-minute stretch.
Bryant scored 18 points for the Lakers, who finished with a season-high 33 assists and increased their Pacific Division lead to 3-and-a-half games over the Clippers. Portland falls to 22-26 on the season and will host the Golden State Warriors on Sunday evening. Tip-off at 6:00. You can hear all the action on 750 AM The Game, KXTG Portland.