The city of Portland bid farewell to Kobe Bryant in style tonight. It'd be impossible to gain revenge for a career full of broken-heart-inducing masterpieces in a single, meaningless regular-season game between two non-contending teams, but Trail Blazers fans got the last laugh over Bryant and the multitude of Lakers fans infesting the Moda Center this evening, courtesy of a 121-103 blowout.
Normally we run down the Game Flow at this point in the recap but that would imply there was actually a game.
Watching the Lakers play is like watching a Popsicle defend a volcano. They don't resist the opponent; they brace themselves before melting. In this case the devastating explosion came courtesy of 10 points from CJ McCollum and 14 from Damian Lillard in the first quarter, staking the Blazers to a 37-22 lead which they never surrendered. McCollum would finish the game with 28, Lillard 36 courtesy of 26-40 shooting between them, 9-16 beyond the arc.
Failing to stop the opponent's #1 and #2 options is not a recipe for success, especially when Portland has no third option to speak of. L.A. broadcaster James Worthy provided unintentional hilarity at halftime, remarking that, "Lillard and McCollum are scoring but the Lakers are doing a pretty good job of holding down everybody else." This is like saying, "Except for the U.S. and the Soviet Union, that whole Cold War thing wasn't such a big deal." The analysis was just as solid as the defense.
For those curious, Bryant hit 5 of 9 shots for 10 points. He seemed far more interested in getting teammates involved than in responding to the massive chorus of mingled boos and cheers that greeted him every time he touched the ball. Apropos of the evening, the attempted charity resulted in 5 turnovers against a single assist. Kobe went out with neither a bang nor a whimper, but a nonchalant whiff of flatulence. It was as if he wouldn't dignify the occasion with more merit than it deserved. Fair enough. He could have scored 30 and his team still would have lost. The cumulative effect was like viewing The Godfather III after seeing Parts 1 and 2. "That was it? Well, I guess we had to watch it so we'd know it ends."
While Lillard and McCollum scored like hotcakes, contributions from the rest of Portland's roster were scattered. Mason Plumlee continued his tradition of eating up slow Lakers centers, 6 assists and 3 steals resulting. Noah Vonleh scored and rebounded well, running circles around lumbering bigs just as Plumlee did. Meyers Leonard, Allen Crabbe, and Gerald Henderson suffered through abysmal shooting nights (8-29 combined, 0-11 from distance) but it didn't matter. Portland's starters put this game away and the entire Lakers roster couldn't threaten Portland's bench enough to bring it out of the fridge again.
Feel free to spend time in the comment section whooping it up, cursing obnoxious Lakers fans who infiltrated Moda, or sharing your best/worst Kobe memories. The Lakers' entire season could qualify for Shaqtin' a Fool, it's a total injustice that this version of Bryant will start the All-Star Game while Lillard remains on the bubble, and that's all we've got to say about that.
Silver Screen and Roll has to watch these Lakers defend every night. Ouch.
Wouldn't you feel good about sending 2000 underprivileged kids to see Damian Lillard and the Blazers play? We're doing exactly that when the Sacramento Kings come to Portland on March 28th! Your help makes a huge difference and it's easy. You can donate tickets to the cause through this link:
Promo Code: BLAZERSEDGE
Ticket Costs range from $7-13 (There is a $5 processing fee per order.)
You can also call our ticket rep, Lisa Swan, directly at 503-963-3966. You will need to indicate to her that you are donating the tickets you order to Blazer's Edge Night.
PLEASE consider sending a child or two! Donations have been strong but we've had a LOT of requests and we're not to 2000 yet. Help if you can.
--Dave email@example.com / @DaveDeckard / @Blazersedge