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Lakers Defeat Blazers 96-83

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I told people not to overlook the Portland Trail Blazers. Historically they have played the Lakers really tough. Even though the Blazers were 32-50 last season, they won the season series against the Lakers last season.

So there they were in the first quarter being run out of the Staples Center by the Blazers down 15 points. The Blazers seemed run their offensive sets as if they were in practice, and the Lakers couldn’t get the ball to drop for the life of them.

But the Lakers dialed up the defense in the second half allowing Portland to shoot only 26%. The Lakers continued to shoot well from the field which allowed them to escape with a 96-83 victory.

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It was an ugly game in every sense. There were five technical fouls called with a double-T given to Blazer’s coach Nate McMillan late in the game. Then there was the confetti dropping prematurely with about five minutes left in the game. The Lakers gave the Blazers too many second chance opportunities.

All that matters at the end of the day is the W.

With the win, the Lakers are the first Western Conference team with 40 wins. They are still first in the conference with everyone else close behind. Like what’s been reiterated here many times, they are only 5 ½ games away from being out of the playoff picture. So coasting is definitely not an option.

That's not to say they will have many challenges for the remainder of the season. Their biggest challenge is a four-game road trip in March that takes them to New Orleans, Houston, Dallas and Utah. Granted with today's news of Yao Ming out for the season with a stress fracture in his foot makes the Houston game a little less daunting, the Lakers still have their work cut out then.

But with a schedule that has them facing Portland three more times and the Sacramento Kings four times (I can't believe they still haven't faced the Kings yet), they have it relatively easy. They main room for improvement is in their rebounding.

Speaking of improvement, who gave Flea a blog? I know I'm not the most eloquent writer, but Flea's blog entry on NBA.com about his post-trade feelings about the Lakers makes me look like Dostoevsky.

the lakers got pau gasol!!!
for kwame brown and a rookie who never played and a couple a
20
something draft picks!!!!!!!!!
WHOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOO HAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!
YEEEEEHAAAAA!!!!!!
YAAAHOOOO!!!! WHOOOP! WHOOP! WHOOP!

For a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the entertainment value is as expected. I'd much rather hear Vic the Brick read his haikus with no commercial interruption for 24 hours than this tripe.

AP Photo by Kevork Djansezian