It has been the most difficult time in team history for the Los Angeles Lakers as they and the rest of the world have had to deal with the sudden and tragic death of Kobe Bryant.
All week, the basketball world has mourned Bryant and every team in the league has paid their respects through various messages and actions, showing how loved and respected the Lakers icon was.
After having their matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers postponed, the purple and gold finally returned to the floor but were defeated by the Portland Trail Blazers, 127-119.
Despite the loss, head coach Frank Vogel had high praise for his team being able to rally and perform the way they did.
“We all wanted to win this game really bad. But our guys, I couldn’t be more proud of how hard they played,” Vogel said.
“They endured a lot this week. It was a heavy and emotional night. From the tribute all the way throughout the game we felt it. Our guys poured their guts out out there. We’re disappointed we didn’t get the win but I couldn’t be more happy and more proud of out guys’ effort and their performance.”
The Lakers looked like a team that had not been focusing on basketball as they came out to start the game rather flat and seemed to be going through the motions on both ends of the floor, a completely understandable showing. They eventually started to resemble themselves midway through the third quarter when Damian Lillard caught fire from the field and began to play with pace and force to try and catch up.
Los Angeles went down by double digits in the fourth quarter, but were able to finally capture some momentum by going on a 9-0 run capped by a LeBron James three. However, Portland answered back with well-executed offensive possessions and closed the game out in the final minutes of regulation.
While the loss on such an emotional night is hard to stomach, it would be difficult to blame any of the players given what they have had to endure. In fact, they all did an incredible job of honoring Bryant by going out and playing the game as hard as they could, something the five-time NBA champion would have appreciated.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, they do not get much of a reprieve as they play the second night of a back-to-back situation against the Sacramento Kings next.