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Friday, January 6, 2012
The McTen: Road problems in Portland

By Dave McMenamin

Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 107-96 road loss against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday ...

1

They went to Sacramento and lost by nine. They went to Denver and lost by nine, also. Things didn't get any better in Portland.

The Lakers dropped to 0-3 on the season on the road, losing by 11 to the Trail Blazers in a game they led by four at halftime.

Where did it go wrong? Well, the same way it went wrong against the Kings and Nuggets, really.

The Lakers had 14 turnovers, leading to 16 points for the Blazers, and they were outscored in fastbreak points 11-4.

"Defensively, two things that I was looking for that we didn’t do this game is to play with a sense of urgency for as close to 48 minutes as possible. I didn’t think we did that as a team. That’s the first thing," said Lakers coach Mike Brown. "And then, to try to be physical without fouling and we didn’t do that either. I thought at times it looked like we were moving in mud a little bit. Our weakside wasn’t as active. We gave up a ton of straight-line drives."

After all of Brown's talk about the Lakers being ahead of the learning curve through the first two weeks of the regular season, the coach was down on his team's development after they gave up 10 offensive rebounds to the Blazers and allowed them to shoot 26 free throws.

"This is the first or second time this year that I’m a little worried about our defense and our rebounding," said Brown.

2

The Lakers' defense really fell apart in the third quarter when Los Angeles was outscored 32-18.

The Blazers shot 13-for-23 in the third (56.5 percent), scoring six points off of four Lakers turnovers and also topped L.A. 5-0 in fastbreak points.

"Transition," Kobe Bryant blamed for the loss. "In the second half they upped the tempo of the game and really pushed the ball down our backs and got a lot of easy opportunities as a result."

Said Brown: "Portland came out in the second half and they just pushed the pace. We kind of came apart. We gave up a few second shots early in that third quarter and we gave up a few layups in transition and we never recovered from it."

The Lakers are averaging 15.1 turnovers per game this season, while opponents are coughing it up against them just 11.4 times per game.

"We had 13 turnovers tonight," said Bryant. "I think the biggest thing is that they only had four. We’re not forcing turnovers."

3

Required reading: Bryant has been receiving an injection of a numbing agent in his injured right wrist prior to games, ESPNLA.com confirmed.

The shot paid off against Portland as Bryant had his second straight 30-point game, going 13-for-24 from the field in the process.

"We just adjusted where I catch the ball," Bryant said. "I catch the ball more in my comfort zone -- low post, mid post -- those are easy shots for me."

Brown dismissed a reporter's question after the game about Bryant's health.

"When you get a guard shooting over 50 percent, that’s pretty good," Brown said.

Bryant bristled when asked about his shot totals while playing with the bum wrist.

"Get over it. Get over it," Bryant said. "I shoot the ball. That’s what I do. I’m a shooting guard. Some nights I have 24 shots, some nights I have 29 shots. Get over it."

4

For the first time since November of 2003 when the Lakers went 0-for-9 from downtown against Miami, the Lakers went blank from 3.

L.A., already struggling from deep with a 22.8 percent team average on the season, went an anemic 0-for-11 against Portland.

"We got to be able to knock the ball in and put the ball in the basket," said Bryant, who was one of the main culprits, going 0-for-4. "For as many players that we have commanding double teams in myself, Drew [Andrew Bynum] and Pau [Gasol], we got to be able to knock those shots down."

Brown maintained confidence that his team's shots would start falling.

"At the end of the day, I truly believe that we’re going be able to shoot the ball and we’re going to be able to score the ball," Brown said.

5

Bynum had his fourth strong game in as many outings, finishing with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Prior to the game, Brown ribbed the Lakers' big man while speaking to reporters, and imitated the 7-footer's somewhat slow gait in getting up and down the court as he works himself into game shape.

"Am I upset? No. Do I wish he played the four games and he was in shape? Yeah! Anybody would," Brown said. "But the big fella’s working. That’s all I can ask for. As long as he keeps working. You get him out of that homerun trot, he’ll be good to go."

Brown was quick to add, "That's my man, Drew" after doing his impression and then had nice things to say about his big man who is averaging 22.3 points and 15.8 rebounds since returning to the lineup after serving a four-game suspension to start the season.

"He’s played great," Brown said. "I can’t ask for more than what I’m getting from him right now. In a couple of months if he’s still in the homerun trot or he’s still out of shape, then we’re going to have a little bit of a problem. But, he’s working his tail off. He’s been good on both ends of the floor, he’s learning as best he can, just like everybody else, with the limited time we have. So, I have no complaints about Andrew Bynum."

6

The Lakers' bench was outscored 24-14 by Portland's reserves and making matters worse, L.A.'s second unit shot just 5-for-24 from the field.

Missing from that group was Josh McRoberts, out for a second straight game with a sprained big toe on his left foot.

Even though the Lakers could use what McRoberts brings to the table, Brown said he didn't feel pressured to rush the big man back after the loss.

"I’m not going to risk hurting Josh more and try to throw him in the game," Brown said. "Obviously we miss him. We miss his energy, we miss his hustle, his ability to rebound and defend and stuff like that, but I’m not going to throw him out there if I don’t think he’s ready."

7

Devin Ebanks saw his first playing time in a week. After starting the Lakers' first four games, Ebanks picked up three straight DNPs as Brown chose Matt Barnes for his spot at small forward.

The second-year player was a little rusty when he got on the court in the second half, going 1-for-5 from the field (including a missed dunk) and finishing with five points and four rebounds.

"I didn’t know [I was going to play]," Ebanks said. "They (the coaching staff) told me in the beginning of the second half to stay ready and he was going to call your number so after that I just got back into game mode."

Brown said the move was done to try to stop Gerald Wallace, who finished with a game-high 31 points on 13-for-19 shooting.

"Just to try different guys on him," Brown said. "You got to give him credit. He did a heck of a job getting what he wanted in transition and in the halfcourt."

8

Down the bench from Brown was Portland assistant Bernie Bickerstaff, who gave the Lakers' coach his first job in the NBA back in 1992 with the Denver Nuggets.

"It’s great," Brown said of his relationship with Bickerstaff. "He’s a guy that gave me my opportunity, or start, in the league and I thank him for it. I appreciate what I’ve learned from him and I don’t wish him anything but success except when he plays against me."

Brown said that Bickerstaff and himself were two of about a half dozen University of San Diego alumni working in high-profile jobs in the league.

What's in the water at USD?

"Not anything that helps us play, but I guess we work hard, maybe," Brown said with a laugh.


9

Quote of the night: "I’m very sad for Brandon. We’ve had some great battles here and in L.A. He’s a phenomenal talent and it’s a shame to see his career end so shortly. Hopefully he can figure something out and get his knees back in order. Hopefully he’ll be back. I hope it’s not the end for him." -- Bryant on former Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy who retired before the season because of chronic knee trouble.

10

Stats of the night: Bryant is 27-for-53 from the field since his 6-for-28 clunker in Denver ... The Lakers are just 6-24 at the Rose Garden since Bryant was drafted in 1996 (including a 2-11 mark in the last 13 meetings), but they still hold a 6-1 record in playoff series over Portland since 1991.

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