Trail Blazers Collapse in the 4th; Lakers Claim Victory in Portland

The Lakers were up in Portland tonight to take on the Trail Blazers. Los Angeles had only won one game out of the previous ten in the Rose Garden, and they were looking to add to their one win from a season ago. Whenever the team is in Portland the crowd is wild and the players are amped up, so the Lakers were expecting a tough fight in this game.

First Quarter
The Lakers began the game hot, and used their size advantage extensively in the first several minutes. Four offensive rebounds on the first two possessions helped Los Angeles build a quick 10-2 lead. However, the Trail Blazers rode the emotion from their fans to come back and take the lead. After leading for the entire game against Atlanta, the Lakers found themselves trailing for the first time since the All-Star break.

The Blazers were led by LaMarcus Aldridge, who continued his recent trend of fantastic play with another solid game tonight against the Lakers. While the defense wasn’t terrible against Aldridge, LaMarcus just outplayed the Lakers defenders. By the end of the first quarter the Trail Blazers led the Lakers 29-23.

Second Quarter
Portland opened the second quarter with the same energy they had to close out the first. The continued solid play of Aldridge allowed Portland to maintain their lead for the majority of the second quarter. Despite their size advantage the Lakers were still unable to grab a rebounding edge against Portland. At the end of the first half the Blazers had out-rebounded Los Angeles 21-16.

Los Angeles was able to get close towards the end of the second quarter thanks to several shots from Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest. After Lamar Odom came off the bench to give the Lakers a boost as well, but at the end of the quarter the Blazers were still leading 47-41.

Third Quarter
The Lakers started the third quarter looking to step up their intensity on the defensive end of the floor. They also managed to change things on the offensive end, as they continued their hot shooting from beyond the arc. They managed to tie the game after Kobe Bryant hit a three point bucket. Portland stayed tough, though, and managed to stay right with the Lakers despite the momentum shift.

One of the biggest bright spots for the Lakers on offense was Ron Artest. Despite his season long struggles on the offensive end, Ron put on a shooting clinic tonight in Portland. He connected on multiple three point buckets, and even put through several other shots. Most of his shots were solid, in-rhythm shots that looked much smoother than most of his other shots this season.

By the time the third quarter came to an end the Lakers were facing a tough battle in the final quarter, trailing 69-67.

Fourth Quarter
The fourth quarter looked very similar to the rest of the game at the outset. Aggressive Portland play and poor offensive rotation from the Lakers proved troublesome for Los Angeles. Portland was able to put their lead to ten with around six minutes left in the quarter, and it looked like the Lakers’ struggles in Portland were going to continue.

The last few minutes of regulation proved difficult for the Blazers to close out. They were unable to score for the last 4:20 of the game. Los Angeles was led by some late game heroics from Kobe Bryant, who hit two very tough jump shots to tie the game. Aldridge missed a driving lay-up at the buzzer and the teams finished regulation tied up at 87.

Los Angeles opened overtime with Lamar Odom connecting on a three point bucket to immediately put the Lakers back on top. However, Portland showed off their resiliency as they connected on multiple three point shots to hang with the Lakers. The key to overtime proved to be Pau Gasol, who neutralized Aldridge on defense while connecting on multiple shots on the offensive end as well. Gasol combined with Ron Artest to give the Lakers a lethal dose of venom in the extra period, but the final bite came from the Black Mamba.

Bryant hit a tough jump shot in the paint then connected on two free throws to put the Lakers up five with less than twenty seconds left in the game. Despite Pau Gasol picking up his sixth foul, the Lakers managed to close it out. In the end Los Angeles defeated the Blazers 106-101.

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