The Los Angeles Lakers picked up a big victory on Monday night as they knocked off the Portland Trail Blazers with a stellar defensive effort. While players-only meetings typically come after a tough loss or amid a losing streak, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher called for one anyway. As for why, reports are indicating it was for nothing more than to set the tone for the second half of the season, especially with trade rumors likely to surround the team in the coming weeks.
Their message was clear: Trade rumors do not matter; your feelings about management or the coaching staff don't matter; all that matters is that the 14 men in that locker room support and believe in one another. If they stay together and stay on the same page, they can get to where they want to go as a team.
The Lakers have a tough stretch of games coming up, including showdowns with Oklahoma City and Dallas this week, and it will be interesting to see how the team responds after the meeting. There is definitely no lack of leadership with this franchise and Lakers fans can only hope the strong defensive play continues.
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The Los Angeles Lakers got off to one of their best starts in recent memory on Monday night, and held on to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 103-92 at Staples Center. The Lakers held an amazing 29-7 lead after one quarter, then scored the first eight points of the second quarter to widen their lead to 37-7.
Steve Blake hit his first five three-point shots of the night and finished with a season high 17 points, making 6-of-9 field goals on the night, including five for six from beyond the arc.
Andrew Bynum had 19 rebounds to go with his 14 points, and Pau Gasol chipped in with a double-double as well with 16 points and 12 boards. Kobe Bryant had with 28 points and four steals for the Lakers, who shot 45.8% on the night.
Portland clawed their way back and got to within 10 points in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers were able to close out their fourth straight win at Staples Center to improve their home record to 14-2 on the season.
Nicolas Batum led the Blazers with 18 points on the night, including a trio of three-pointers. Portland hit 12 of 23 treys on the night (52.2%). LaMarcus Aldridge also scored 18 points for Portland, and added eight rebounds, but hit just six of his 19 field goals.
The Lakers have Tuesday off before opening a brutal two-night road trip in Dallas and Oklahoma City.
The Los Angeles Lakers hope to get back to winning ways on Monday night when they take on the Portland Trailblazers in a Western Conference battle at Staples Center. Here are the relevant details for Monday night's contest, which is the second game of the season series:
Records: Lakers (18-13); Blazers (17-15)
Location: Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles
Time: 7:30 p.m. PST
TV: FS-West, with Bill Macdonald and Stu Lantz on the call.
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers, 102.7 points per 100 possessions (16th in NBA); Blazers, 104.4 (11th)