Portland 107, Lakers 98:(late) Morning after reaction

Had the Lakers rolled into the Rose Garden on a hot streak, playing well, looking like the champs they are, it would be easier to chalk up Friday night's 107-98 loss to Portland to some sort of Oregon curse, an off night, or fatigue brought on from an all nighter soaking up a local jam band. Except they didn't, and they're not. So while it marked L.A.'s ninth straight loss in Portland's home building, I don't think it would have made a difference had the game been played on the proverbial neutral floor or even at Staples. They were thoroughly outplayed by a Blazers squad so thinned out by injuries they've spent half the season starting this Clyde Drexler Fathead in the backcourt.

As I wrote last night, the Lakers were out of sorts and out of balance, with Kobe Bryant taking 37 shots while the rest of the starters combined for 42. Mine, however, isn't the only reaction to Friday's events. With that, a smattering of stories from around the Interweb, starting with game reports from the LA Times, Daily News, OC Register, and The Oregonian.

As ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin notes, don't simply chalk up Kobe's bad night to the bum finger or tough luck. Portland's defensive plan, led by one-on-one coverage from Martell Webster, was key:

"...Bryant started off 5-for-8 from the floor, scoring on all jump shots. Instead of scrapping the one-on-one coverage, (Nate) McMillan stuck to it and kept Webster isolated on Bryant -- admirer on hero. It was a pretty simple plan and it's nothing new. The Celtics used it in the Finals against him, conceding jumpers so long as the paint remained as protected as the President. When Bryant got to the lane, they doubled and fed into Bryant's machismo as he tried to score one-one-two or one-one-three. When Bryant adjusted in the third quarter and started whipping it out to open 3-point shooters on the wing once he got in the middle, they went back to one-on-one coverage on him and lived with it if he still was able to contort his body like only he can to convert something down low. Portland opened up a 20-point lead before Bryant really got anything going close to the hoop..."

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