Rapid Reaction: Trail Blazers 116, Lakers 106

October, 31, 2012
10/31/12
10:38
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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PORTLAND, Ore. -- Despite players, coaches and front-office members associated with the purple and gold preaching patience for a solid month as the team went winless in the preseason and laid an egg on opening night, it will be awfully hard to quiet the doubters after this one.

Quite simply, the sky is falling on Laker Land.

These new-look Los Angeles Lakers with their All-Star starting five and championship aspirations are now 0-2 (0-10 as a collective if you count their exhibition slate), falling to a Portland Trail Blazers team that few expect to make the playoffs, the night after losing to a Dallas Mavericks team that is also considered a long shot for postseason play.

Sure, there is plenty of basketball left to be played this season, but people are getting tired on waiting for this group to jell.

Maybe this is just a case of darkness before the dawn, or maybe there's stormy skies ahead for this group that was supposed to be a shining beacon this NBA season.

1. Where's the D?

Phil Jackson used to scan the box score after games and when he'd notice that the Lakers allowed 30 points in a quarter, he made a face as if he were staring at a wart. Well, the Lakers gave up 30 or more points to the Blazers in each of the first three quarters Wednesday and allowed Portland to shoot better than 50 percent from the field (42-for-83). All five Portland starters scored 13 points or more, led by Nicolas Batum's 26 points. Helping out the Blazers' offense was the Lakers' 25 turnovers that led to 28 Portland points.

2. Nash goes down

Steve Nash's final numbers (two points, four rebounds, four assists) weren't just a product of the tricky Princeton-style offense on this night. Nash exited the game after colliding with Portland stud rookie Damian Lillard late in the second half. After receiving treatment at halftime, Nash tried to give it another go but barely lasted a minute in the third quarter before he shut it down for the night. The official word from the Lakers' public relations department was that Nash suffered a bruise of his lower left leg. Time will tell if this will be yet another lingering health concern for the team (like Kobe Bryant's right foot or Dwight Howard's back) or if Nash will be able to bounce back in time for Friday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

3. Dwight dominant

Howard has played exactly two real NBA games in the past six months after undergoing major back surgery. In his first, he had 19 points and 10 rebounds. In his second on Wednesday night, he had 33 points, 14 rebounds, a team-high 5 assists and 1 block. He also made 15-of-19 free throws a night after going just 3-for-14 from the line. And let's not forget -- Howard still has a way to go before he's back to 100 percent. Seeing him pick up five fouls a night after fouling out is a bit of a disturbing trend, but for many Lakers fans who didn't expect to see Howard in the lineup until December at the earliest, his play has been a revelation. The fact that he got his 33 while Bryant scored 30 on the same night was a nice sign too.

4. Not so happy Halloween

Portland's Rose Garden was already a House of Horrors for the Lakers' franchise, as L.A. had lost 16 of their past 20 games in the building coming into Wednesday, and the recurring nightmare played out again on Halloween with Blazers fans in masks and costumes lining the stands.

What is it about this place, anyway?

"The crowd here is really into the game and everybody wants to say, 'Well, the Blazers have a rivalry with the Lakers,'" Lakers coach Mike Brown said before the game. "Shoot, I think the Lakers have a rivalry with everybody. Everybody says we're their rival. So, I think they get up for the game and the crowd does, and when that happens, it's tough. And they've been good too, so you can't put that by them. But, it's tough. It's just a tough environment to play in."

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0