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Portland presents a challenge for Lakers

They have lost eight consecutive games to the Trail Blazers there. Coach Jackson says it will take more than hard work to beat Trail Blazers.

January 08, 2010|By Broderick Turner

The torture chamber awaits the Lakers again.

The arena is called the Rose Garden. The city is Portland.

It is where the Lakers have received much pain over the years, a place where they just can't seem to win.

They have lost eight consecutive games to the Trail Blazers in Portland. And the Lakers play the Trail Blazers tonight in Portland.

"Well, we've got a challenge ahead of us, I guess," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said after practice Thursday.

How can they overcome a challenge that the Lakers have failed at since they last won in Portland on Feb. 23, 2005?

"Play hard. Take the challenge," Jackson said. "It's more than just hard work. We have to execute the right way."

It would seem that the time is right for the Lakers to break free from that losing streak.

Portland has dealt with a slew of serious injuries this season.

Centers Greg Oden (fractured left kneecap) and Joel Przybilla (ruptured right knee) are out for the season, forwards Nicolas Batum (shoulder) and Travis Outlaw (fractured foot) are still sidelined and guard Rudy Fernandez (back) is out. Even Portland Coach Nate McMillan is recovering from a ruptured right Achilles' tendon.

"I don't buy that at all," Jackson said. "They are going to have a defensive plan. They still have two exceptional offensive players in [Andre] Miller and [Brandon] Roy that are playing well. So, they can still find the offense to generate some points."

Fisher's struggles

The question elicited a quick response from Derek Fisher. Are you struggling?

"No," Fisher replied.

Fisher, 35, is shooting only 37.1% from the field, his worst shooting since the 2003-04 season.

He is averaging seven points per game, his lowest since the 1999-2000 season.

Fisher, who is in the final season of a contract that pays him $5 million, hasn't been a factor in the fourth quarter in recent games.

He didn't play at all in the fourth against the Clippers on Wednesday night or last week against the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors. He did play the final 3 minutes 40 seconds of the fourth quarter Tuesday against the Houston Rockets.

"This is a team game," Fisher said. "So I'm not overly concerned about my individual game. With the type of team we have, there will be different guys doing different things every night and you have to be willing to sacrifice maybe some of your individual shine to make sure the team is accomplishing the team goals.

"I'm comfortable with that. I realize what my role is on this team. I try and really stay focused on that."

Injury update

Lakers power forward Pau Gasol, who has missed the last two games because of a strained left hamstring, has been making progress.

Jackson said all indications are that Gasol will not play against the Trail Blazers, but that he may not be that far from returning.

"I don't anticipate Pau being ready to play" today, Jackson said. "We're hopeful next week, maybe Sunday if things shape up right."

Luke Walton (back) did some four-on-four scrimmaging Thursday. Jackson said the reserve forward is "close" to participating in a full practice, perhaps next week.


The Oregonian newspaper reported that Portland point guard Miller and coach McMillan got into a heated shouting match during practice Thursday.


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