Pivot Points: NBA’s Black Friday Consumes Lakers, Other Top Contenders

The Los Angeles Lakers continued their misery in Portland by dropping their ninth consecutive game to the Trail Blazers in the Rose Garden, but were able to retain their league-best record due to losses by the rest of the NBA's top contenders.

It was a strange night indeed, which saw Boston lose to Atlanta, Orlando lose to Washington, and Cleveland lose to Denver, with all those losses coming on the road.

For the Lakers it was their third consecutive road loss in a city in which the Lakers have been unsuccessful since the season of 2008, a streak so long that Laker coach Phil Jackson was able to find humor in it.

Jackson said he usually looks at the schedule and marks an "L" in the loss column whenever he sees a road game against the Blazers, and his team re-inforced his premonition by playing as if the game were already lost.

The Lakers prolonged their longest road streak to any team in the NBA by losing the battle in almost every category in the stat book, and counted the days to the return of injured forward Pau Gasol.

Both teams played short-handed, but the effort Portland mustered without their top two centers in Greg Oden and Joe Przybilla was great, while forward Nicholas Batum was impressive.

They out-shot the Lakers 50 percent to 43 percent, out-rebounded them 42 to 38, had more assists, a better free-throw percentage, and guard Jerryd Bayless out scored the entire Laker bench 21 points to 10.

It was a thoroughly dominant performance and it left the Lakers with no answers to a stream of very familiar questions pertaining to their inability to defend the perimeter, and the continued inconsistent play of center Andrew Bynum.

Los Angeles didn't have a player capable of staying in front of Bayless and Bynum gave another un-inspired performance in the post on a night in which he was set up to rule the paint.

It could be due to the Lakers' inability to get...

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