Photo by Jonathan Ferrey I Getty Images

Before the game, a Lakers commercial on KCAL-9 said, “Our belief is unwavering. Our spirit – unbreakable (pun intended?). Our mission – to win it all…again.”

Belief? Overconfidence might be more like it. Spirit? Looks like laziness the last few games. The mission? Still in sight though the last week has made the vision a bit blurry.

For the second time this season, the Lakers have produced a 4-game losing streak. The difference now is timing – they’re three games away from the playoffs. After going 17-1 after the season break, the defending champions have completely gone back to lethargic, careless basketball and, despite evidence to the contrary, can’t always depend on post-season scheduled intensity to bail them out in the first round.

The Lakers started hot, as they’d done in the three games before tonight. And just like those last three games, they also went cold soon after. Attribute the loss to Andrew Bynum’s stomach bug. Attribute it to the slow reacting defense. Attribute it to the 17 turnovers. The bottom line is, the Lakers, in the last week, have been unable (or unwilling) to sustain their effort and energy for a full 48 minutes and they have certainly suffered because of it. The matter of playoff seeding aside, the point is to play properly each time you’re on the floor and the Lakers haven’t done that in four games.

The Lakers led by as much as six points in the first quarter, then fell behind by 24 in the third, against a Portland team trying to get to a more favorable seeding in the Western Conference, not to mention a team trying to avoid being swept this season by their rivals. Their rivals were kind enough to help them in their mission.

The energy was clearly on Portland’s side, and though they were outrebounded by the Lakers 52-41, they were scrappy and stifling on defense, getting eight steals and forcing turnover after turnover, which resulted in fastbreak point after fastbreak point. Layups were also a nice delicacy for the Blazers, who got past the sleepy Laker defense time and again to get to the hoop freely.

As if the defense weren’t bad enough, the Lakers offense wasn’t exactly humming either. Even with Kobe Bryant’s four consecutive 3-pointers to end the first half (Bryant finished with 24 points on 10-25), the vistors struggled (or simply didn’t execute) to put the ball in the hoop. In the third quarter, it took the Lakers almost four minutes to score their first points of the second half with Bryant’s layup, and just their second field goal came five minutes later on a Pau Gasol jumper. Two field field goals in eight and a half minutes.

The Laker bench, M.I.A. the last few games, did make a run late in the third quarter that took the 24-point deficit and turned it into 12 before the final quarter. They outscored the Blazers bench 29-7 and may have done more good if given a greater chance.

After Bryant brought the lead to within 7 points and with just over two minutes left in the game, Lamarcus Aldridge missed a jumper from the free throw line, but instead of going after the defensive rebound, Gasol literally watched as he was beaten to the board, which resulted in a Nicolas Batum three-pointer that put the lead back to 10. That, in essence, was the running theme in tonight’s game for the Lakers – a lack of effort. 2:00 with a seven-point deficit to overcome is nothing. The last time the Lakers were at the Rose Garden in February, they were down by seven points with less than a minute left in the game – a game they eventually won in overtime.

Yes, it’s easy to overreact to a team who has pulled this stunt before – underwhelming in the regular season and busting out fighting in the playoffs. But after playing a month and half’s worth of dominant basketball, it’s just unnerving to see the Lakers go back to such losing ways so close to the real season.

There are three games left in the regular season and the Lakers have an opportunity to get back to their winning ways, possibly bring some momentum into the first round. This habit of losing streaks this season is just unbecoming of a defending champion.

Box Score:
Pre-game Thoughts: Portland trying to get to the #6 spot in the Western Conference; also trying to avoid getting swept by the Lakers this season; the Lakers on a 3-game losing streak – all point to a long night for the defending champs
Half-time thoughts: 47-53 – As they’d done in the last three games, the Lakers started hot then fizzled shortly after. The Blazers led by as much as 12 points, and if not for Kobe Bryant’s four straight from beyond the arc (he’s already got 18 points on 7-13), the visitors would be down a lot more. Lakers’ low energy obvious in their carelessness (10 turnovers already) and lack of defensive presence, giving up 55% shooting, 28 points in the paint and a 16-0 advantage in fastbreak points. Pau Gasol, who started in the first quarter with six points on 3-5, didn’t attempt a single field goal in the second. With Andrew Bynum trying to play through a stomach bug, the rest of the frontcourt needs to step up. At least the Lakers’ bench is producuing.
Most Thoughtless Play(s)/Player(s) of the Game: Andrew Bynum – but with a caveat – the man played through stomach bug. On the other hand, Lamar Odom played with a similar ailment last Friday when they Lakers beat the Jazz in Utah (which was their last victory) and Kobe Bryant has played through the flu.
Most Thought-filled Play(s)/Player(s) of the Game: For the first time, in a long time, the Lakers bench actually put in some work, turning a 24-point Portland lead in the 3rd quarter to 12 points before the final 12 minutes. If only the starters were on the same page.

  • reni

    this game was awful. i was there, live at the rose garden hoping that the lakers will play like the team that they have been after the all-star break. it seems like it’s a pattern, just like last season on how they end their games during the year. i’m sure they’re tired. hopefully they’ll win their last few games and be ready for the playoffs so we can get it done in june. lakers all the way.

  • Lake show 2012

    Sorry to the fans that paid to see the Lakers win, but I am glad that they lost. In fact I’m glad they lost the past 4 games. They are doing this on purpose, the Lakers are a veteran team and it’s all part of the game plan because THEY ARE RESTING FOR THE PLAYOFFS!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Tyler

      They can’t just flip a switch. They won last year…but round 1….They were a tip in away from game 7. All because they came in with lack of momentum.

  • Tecun

    Two words: Pau Gasol. His lack of effort and passion is disgusting. During this 4 game stretch he has refused to play aggressive, heartfelt basketball and as a result we’ve been blown out and embarrassed by lesser teams. I hope Kobe and Phil have a talk with him and straighten out his “All Star” ass. If he plays like in the playoffs, we’ll be eliminated in the 2nd round. In addition, no matter what Steve Blake does or does not do in the playoffs, his acquisition has proven to be a giant failure. He can’t shot nor drive, and is not at all aggressive. His defense is solid, but no where near spectacular enough to compensate for his lack of offense. There is no excuse for a player receiving that type of salary to play this bad. No excuse. I’m sure they’ll turn it on during the playoffs, but then again just when you thought you’d figured out this team, they pull a stunt like this. Let the chips fall where they may, and hopefully we’re celebrating in June.

    • Dre81

      I co-sign everything you said.
      Ever since Amare said that pau has been off his game that is the main reason phil has him on the bench.

      As for Steve Blake, He was a waste of money

      • Eric tione

        TRU DAT Tecun preach the word.

    • Luke Sucks

      I agree with you that Pau’s play has been very disappointing as of late. Often times he tries to “finesse” a shot into the basket rather than dunk. If you’re close enough to the basket to dunk, then dunk.

      Concerning Blake, he is disappointing but then again so is Fisher. The PG position for the Lakers is their Achilles Heal. They can’t stop dribble penetration on defense and can’t make shots on offense.

      As bad as these guys are playing, no one is worse than Luke. A 5 million dollar cheerleader……

  • Kaley Cuoco Insider

    1 Word: Hollywood.

  • Tyler

    ….Well Pau decided to actually be soft, Kobe played great, Bynum stopped dominating, and a Phil Jackson team just lost 4 straight TWICE in the same season for the first time. I know the Lakers did this last year…they came out sizzling, then dropped 7 of the last eleven but last year the number one seed was locked up in december…now the lakers have to hold off Dallas, for seed number two, and hope they end up with home court against at least Boston.

    Lets hope the lakers right the ship for the next game…because dropping 5 straight is not gonna be pretty….

  • Nick the prick

    its all part of the plan….Joker

  • rondo

    The Lakers will come out focus when the time comes. Why waste your emotions on games with no meaning. Winning games doing this period make the insecure fans happy.

  • Big Shot Bob

    I think that I’m going to start turning on/off the switch in my own life. You know, really work hard at my job for a few days and then play solitaire for a few days stretch. I’ll let my kids feed themselves for a few days and then go back to making them meals. I think I’ll just phone it in here and there and I’m sure everyone around me would be just fine with it. NOT. I’d be fired and divorced in a minute if I pulled that crap. Unreal how these guys can show such disrespect to the fans and themselves.

    • Mamba4Life



      well said, sir. the attitude they have in normal season is disgusting.

    • LakerMarc

      This is awesome Big Shot Bob…quite possibly the most hillarious post ever…..LMFAO

      Lets just throw it in in life

  • LaLaL24

    It’s clearly the bench. They don’t score & they let other teams score at will. Blake is a bust & Shannon Brown does nothing but dribble and shoot stupid jumpers.

    • Luke Sucks

      Brown is a clown. Try playing some defense Shannon.

  • Eddie Mejia

    All i got to say about this game is that they got TOYED around by the Blazers. SMH. And Kobe was actually being a Ball Hog.

  • Al

    It’s all should be blamed on Phil. He allows long runs when the balance shifts so much it’s almost impossible to catch up. He will take the hot second unit and replace them all with the 1st unit that already caused the 24 point difference. He is the worst coach in the league and I am glad it’s his last year.

  • Gugy

    Lakers fans are always so insecure.
    This team will wake up when it matters. We have done it last 3 years. Just have some fucking faith.
    If they go fishing, then they will deserve it. Until that happens I still think this team has what it takes to 3peat.

    • rondo


      • Lake show 2012

        Like I said I don’t even care that they lost. They’re resting and letting other teams burn themselves out for the playoffs

  • Toni

    I live in Portland and went to the game (if you want to call it that) last night and I have to admit that I have never seen the Lakers seem so disinterested in playing the game like they did last night.

    I know that they are at a time in the regular season where boredom seems to settle in but come on! The playoffs start on the 17th and they need to have that infamous “switch” turned ON full power as they are still very vulnerable in loosing their 2nd seat position to Dallas!

    I paid a nice amount of hard-earned money to go that game ony for them to fail ME and the numerous other Laker fans in the area! – Not to metion all the smack and BS that Blazer fans were throwing at both the team themselves and anyone who entered the area wearing both Purple and Gold attire. … If the Lakers are not that interested in winning for themselves, can they please think of their loyal fans everywhere who pay good money to see them live when they are playing at their worst?! … If I made the millions like they do, then I wouldn’t care but reality is most of us don’t and their winning does MATTER to us loyalists!

    Anyway, hopefully things well get better with our team and they will start playing with the championship caliber that we and EVEYRONE elso who isn’t a Laker fan knows but does not like to admit again!

    Don’t sacrifice the “3-Peat” just because you are bored and have lack of focus. If you won’t do it for yourselves, please at least think of your loyal fans! … I know that I sre would if I were in your shoes!

    That said, bring on the race to the 3-Peat!

    GO LAKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!