New Lakers coach Mike Brown is only a few months into his job, but he’s right when he said the Lakers can lay claim to a rivalry with everyone.
When Los Angeles goes to a visiting arena, it’s played by the hosts as a chance to take down one of the NBA’s storied franchises. Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reports Brown saying so this week:
“I think we have history with everybody,” Jackson’s replacement told Bresnahan. “I have a green sweater vest and somebody said I can’t wear the green sweater vest even though it says ‘Lakers,’ because we have a history with Boston. Somebody told me we had a history in Sacramento, that I’d be hearing cowbells and all that, so we have a history there. We have a history with the Nuggets. Now we have a history up in Portland. So, hey, bring it on. I’m OK with it.”
Well, it isn’t just “now” there’s a history with Portland. Since Kobe Bryant was drafted, L.A.’s 6-23 in the regular season playing in Rip City (but 22-6 against Portland at Staples Center). In one stretch, the Lakers couldn’t win there in nine straight games from April 20, 2005 to Feb. 6, 2010.
And it’s not like the Lakers are a team Portland regular plays “big brother” to. The Trail Blazers’ all-time winning percentage against L.A. is .437, their third-worst against any team in franchise history at 87-112. In the playoffs, L.A. is ahead 32-16.
So what drives the Blazers’ success at home? Here’s a top five why we (and Phil Jackson) believe Portland’s in charge.
5. THE FANS
One of the best crowds in the League, the Rose Garden reaches another decibel level when the Lakers are in town. Whether it’s Rick Fox or Trevor Ariza in the past or Andrew Bynum and Bryant in the present, the Lakers bring out the loudest in Rip City.
4. PORTLAND CAN’T MISS
Get a hand in the shooters’ faces when you play Portland in the Rose Garden, Lakers. In 12 of Portland’s 23 wins since Bryant was drafted, the home team won by shooting better than 50 percent. Also in 12 games during that time, Portland shot better than 40 percent from three.
3. THE NIKE EMPLOYEE STORE
While getting half off the Nike apparel empire is appealing, it’s another of Jackson’s half-serious claims about distractions while in the Rose City. Plus, we’re pretty sure Bryant, a huge part of Nike’s marketing campaigns, could probably rustle any gear he wants for his teammates for free.
“I’m not going to let them go anymore,” Jackson said before a loss in 2010.
2. THE WEATHER
Jackson mused that it’s the soggy climate that puts mold on Los Angeles’ gameplans, but he’s not alone in making the claim. Lakers TV analyst Joel Meyers said after a game in 2010: “What is it about this place? The water? The building? The city?”
1. BLAME KOBE?
Bryant averages 27.2 points in 27 regular-season games in Portland, making it hard to knock his production. However, of late, he’s taken a lot of shots to get there. In his last six games in Portland, he’s shot 11-for-26, 11-for-29, 9-for-24, 14-for-37, 14-for-31 and 10-for-25 from the field. That streak started in 2008, when he had plenty of title-worthy players around him to help, too. Maybe he just wants to destroy the Portland talk single-handedly, something we can’t blame him for.
Who is going to win tonight?
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