LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 20: Raymond Felton #5 of the Portland Trail Blazers loses the ball as he falls in front of Steve Blake #5 and Troy Murphy #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on February 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
I've no idea why the Lakers are such a different team at home than they are on the road, but on nights like this I'm not one to quibble. Looking nothing at all like the squad that mailed it in against Phoenix just last night, the Lake Show returned to Staples this evening and, luxuriating amid the familiar environs, took an axe to the Trail Blazers' skull. The final score was an unremarkable 103 to 92, but at one point early in the second quarter the Lakers led by 30. Thirty, I tell you! After Portland took a three-point lead on the game's first possession, the purple and gold tore off an insane 37 to 4 run that brought back memories of Showtime and Shaq/Kobe-era domination. The Blazers whittled the lead down to 10 eventually, but there was never a serious charge that put the final outcome in question.
This was one of the Lakers' tightest offensive performances of the season. For most of the night the passing was superb. Guys zipped the ball around with purpose and intelligence, exploiting a slow-footed Blazers team that's giving some indications of having tuned out their coach. Early on it was Andrew Bynum (14 points, 19 boards) who inflicted major damage. In the middle periods the prime movers were Kobe Bryant (28 points) and Steve Blake, who scorched the nets with 17 points on just nine shots. As a team the Lakers dominated the glass at both ends. They shot their free throws well, even foiling a desperate Hack-A-World-Peace gambit on McMillan's part.
The Lakers are now 14-2 at home. Only the Bulls and Spurs have better records in their own gyms. Unfortunately it'll be a while before they return to Staples, as a back-to-back set in Dallas and Oklahoma City leads them into All-Star Weekend. Still, for all the drama they've dealt with lately, the Lakers have still won four of five and have a shot to head into ASW on a nice little roll.