Lakers dominate all the way
- portland tribune
- Portland Tribune - Sports
LOS ANGELES -- The Trail Blazers fell back to .500, and the Los Angeles Lakers moved up to .500 Friday night in a game that was just about a complete loss for Portland.
The Lakers evened the four-game season series at 1-1, never trailing in a 104-87 rout at the Staples Center.
Portland (14-14) returns home for a 7 p.m. Saturday game with Philadelphia (14-16) at the Rose Garden.
Notes and highlights from the L.A.-Portland game:
The Lakers exposed several of the Blazers' weaknesses, using their star-studded cast and center Dwight Howard's muscle.
L.A. outscored Portland 58-38 in the paint.
The Lakers shot 57.1 percent in the first half, leading by as many as 20 points after scoring almost at will inside early, and L.A. went into the break in front 62-48.
Portland managed 10 fast-break points but gave up 23 to a Laker team that was able to rest its starters in the second half.
Howard, in 29 1/2 minutes, had 21 points and 14 rebounds, a game high. He was 7 of 13 from both the field and the free-throw line.
Kobe Bryant failed to score 30 or more points for the first time in 11 games -- but that was because he came out after 31 minutes and after scoring 27 points.
Pau Gasol had 15 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks.
Steve Nash had just 6 points but dished out 10 assists with only two turnovers.
Portland's starters totaled a mere 52 points. Some played limited minutes in the rout, and LaMarcus Aldridge left in the third quarter with a bruised chest. He is probable for the Philly game.
Blazers under-sized center J.J. Hickson met his match in Howard and failed to notch a double double for the first time in 10 games. Hickson had just two points, matching his season low, and was 0 for 7 from the field with eight rebounds in 18 minutes.
Nicolas Batum had 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but the other regular Portland starter, rookie point guard Damian Lillard, struggled as the Lakers made a defensive adjustment against him.
Los Angeles put 6-4 shooting guard Darius Morris on Lillard instead of Nash. Lillard was 4 of 17 from the floor and had 11 points, with four assists and three turnovers.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts, however, said Lillard simply was off, and was bothered some by the Lakers' size.
"Damian had a lot of shots that he could make," Stotts said. "They have good length when he drives in there. It's Gasol, [Jordan] Hill and Howard, and they're long, but I thought he had a lot of shots he could make and he didn't make them tonight."
Nash started defensively on 6-9 Victor Claver, who started at the 2 guard spot for Wesley Matthews (sore left hip), who is iffy for Philadelphia.
Claver made his only shot, a 3, but played only nine minutes.
The Lakers' largest lead, 93-66, came in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
The Blazers and Lakers are tied with Minnesota (13-13) for eighth place in the NBA Western Conference. Utah is next at 15-16.