PORTLAND, Ore. – The Trail Blazers' glee over trouncing the Los Angeles Lakers was tempered by their concern for teammate Rudy Fernandez.
Fernandez was injured when he was fouled hard late in the third quarter of Portland’s 111-94 victory Monday night. He was taken from the court strapped to a stretcher, his neck in a brace.
“Just the way it played out — it's hard to watch your teammate over there laying down and they’re bringing out stretchers. That was a tough moment for all of us,” said Brandon Roy, who led the Blazers with 27 points.
Fernandez was conscious and alert when he left the court, and he had full movement of his extremities, the team said. But he was experiencing chest pain and was taken to a hospital overnight. X-rays were negative.
Trevor Ariza, who fouled Fernandez, said he hoped the rookie from Spain wasn’t seriously hurt.
“It wasn’t anything I was trying to do,” Ariza said. “I wasn’t trying to hurt him. I was just trying to make a play on the ball.”
Travis Outlaw had 22 points for the Blazers, who have won 12 straight at the Rose Garden. Joel Przybilla added 12 points and 18 rebounds, while LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Kobe Bryant had 26 points, while Pau Gasol had 18 for the Lakers, who haven’t won at the Rose Garden in their last seven tries, with their last victory on Feb. 23, 2005.
It was the Lakers’ third straight road loss, although they have one of the league’s best overall road records at 21-9.
After the game, Bryant left without speaking to reporters.
“We have to respect our opponent and play them like they’re Boston or Cleveland,” Lakers forward Lamar Odom said. “They play us like we’re a tough team, or one of the best teams in the league, so why not play against every team like that? It would be smart for us to do.”
The Blazers are among the NBA’s best home teams with a 27-5 record, and their latest winning streak at home dates to a 104-98 loss to Cleveland on Jan. 21.
The rivalry between the Lakers and the Blazers had cooled in recent years, in part because Portland has not been a playoff contender. But it seems to be heating back up with the demise of the so-called “Jail Blazers” and the potential of the NBA’s second-youngest team.
Fans at the Rose Garden chanted “Beat L.A!” and booed nearly every time Bryant took a shot.
“It was a great win,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said. “We beat the best team in the league. And at this time of the season, with so many teams jockeying for the playoffs, beating the Lakers makes it even a bigger win.”
Portland jumped out to a 19-12 lead on rookie Nicolas Batum’s third dunk, as the Blazers found early success in the paint. The Blazers took off on a 10-2 run midway through the first half that put them up 31-16 after Outlaw’s 3-pointer.
Portland extended the lead to 51-32 on Aldridge's dunk on a hand-off from Roy. Outlaw’s 17-foot jumper made it 60-36 and the Blazers wrapped up the half with a 61-38 lead.
Outlaw finished the half with 17 points, while Bryant had 12 for the Lakers on 6-of-15 shooting.
Fernandez hit a 3-pointer that gave Portland a 81-51 lead in the final minutes of the third quarter. Shortly thereafter, he was driving to the basket on a fast-break when he was fouled by Ariza.
Fernandez fell hard under the basket, on both his elbow and his hip. He remained prone on the court for more than 10 tense minutes before being taken from the court on a stretcher.
Fernandez, who also had a CT scan, was expected to be kept at a hospital overnight for observation. Initial reports said he suffered a soft-tissue injury to the upper chest and side.
A skirmish broke out among the two teams and Ariza was ejected. The Blazers were assessed a pair of technical fouls. In the confusion there were some who said that Odom left the bench, although he denied it.
“I stood up, but I stood right there — I didn’t go nowhere,” he said.
Roy balked at Ariza’s reaction to the foul.
“I tried to be cool-headed about it,” Roy said. “I was just going to go over there, but then he started bucking (over the foul) like, ’What?’ I was just upset because my guy is laying there on the ground and he’s talking trash still. I was pretty upset about it.”
The Blazers went flat after Fernandez went out, and the Lakers closed the gap to 89-73 midway through the fourth quarter.
But the Portland wouldn’t let Los Angeles get any closer. Roy sealed it with a statement dunk with 2:58 left that made it 106-79. Afterward, he chest-bumped his teammates.
The Blazers remained without Greg Oden, who hasn't played since the All-Star break because of a bone chip in his knee. The 7-foot center is expected to be reevaluated this week.