Los Angeles Times
Missing the same fire
Trail Blazers’ rout does the talking in Bryant’s farewell
PORTLAND, Ore. — There used to be chants of “Beat L.A . . . Beat L.A . . . Beat L.A” during the national anthem when Kobe Bryant and the Lakers came here in the early 2000s to play the Portland Trail Blazers.
There was no such hatred toward the Lakers on Saturday night, not with this being Bryant’s farewell stop here in Rip City and not with the team from L.A. being this bad.
It was as if the fans didn’t see the need to pile on, instead enjoying watching their Trail Blazers apply a sixth consecutive beatdown of the Lakers, 121-103, at the Moda Center.
Bryant gave the fans who came to see him one last time 10 points on five-for-nine shooting.
His best effort was in being a stern leader when the Lakers needed it. After another poor defensive effort in the third quarter that induced Lakers Coach Byron Scott to call a timeout, Bryant joined the huddle and seemed to chastise his young teammates.
They looked defeated after Damian Lillard hit them with another three-pointer on his way to 36 points on 14-for-19 shooting, fivefor-eight on three-point shots. His backcourt mate, C.J. McCollum, had 28 points.
Bryant’s talk did not have immediate impact, the Lakers’ deficit swelling to 25 points by the end of the third quarter.
But while Bryant watched from the bench, the Lakers at least played harder, even if the final score said otherwise.
Rookie D’Angelo Russell picked up his play, scoring 21 points that included a four-point play after he was fouled while making a threepointer. He made the free throw.
The fans reacted to Bryant in a variety of ways.
He was mostly cheered when introduced as a starter.
But Bryant was booed the first time few times he touched the basketball in the first quarter.
Then he was cheered when he made his first shot later in the quarter, bringing chants of “Kobe . . . Kobe . . . Kobe,” which probably came from the fans wearing Bryant’s No. 24 jersey, of which there were many.
It was here in Portland on Nov. 28 when Bryant told Scott that he was going to retire. The two were standing next to each other on the sideline when Scott told Bryant he wanted to limit his minutes in the second half.
Bryant told Scott there was no need, because he was going to call it quits after the season.
The next day, Bryant made his announcement at Staples Center.
So as Saturday night’s game wound down, the Lakers trailing big, the fans chanted, “We want Kobe.”
But Bryant didn’t play again, the fans having to settle for seeing him sitting on the bench before he waved to the fans after the game and patted his chest twice.
Scott said Larry Nance Jr., who missed his fourth consecutive game because of a sore right knee, “is getting better,” but not enough for the rookie to play against Portland. Scott said Nance will get to practice Monday and the hope is that he can play Tuesday against the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center. Nance did shoot before Saturday night’s game and ran