Now that they got Andrew Bynum back in the fold, now that they got a 116-102 victory over the Denver Nuggets tonight at Staples Center, now the Lakers can turn their attention to the Portland Trail Blazers and their seven-game losing streak at the Rose Garden. The Lakers haven’t won in Portland since Feb. 23, 2005, their longest losing streak anywhere.
Adding to the intrigue is the way the Lakers’ latest visit to Oregon played out, what with Trevor Ariza getting ejected for a hard foul that sent Rudy Fernandez to the hospital with a bruised hip and chest pain. Lamar Odom received a one-game suspension for leaving the bench area after several Portland players surrounded Ariza after Fernandez hit the deck.
A columnist for the Oregonian newspaper called the Lakers bullies. Ariza’s flagrant foul followed a flagrant call against Lamar Odom in a game in Portland last season, so perhaps it looked to the scribe as if the Lakers were goons. That made Lakers coach Phil Jackson laugh when the subject was broached after tonight’s win over Denver.
“If my team tries to bully anyone, I’d be totally surprised,” Jackson said, laughing. “This is a team (the Trail Blazers) that believes in delivering the first blow. They (the Lakers) are going to have to be prepared for the first blow. I told them (the Lakers) to bring their umbrellas along and deal with it after that. We just want to do some things differently against Portland than we have in the past. We’d like to end that losing streak.”