Portland Trail Blazers (16-23) at Los Angeles Lakers (15-26)
Jan. 10, 2017, 7:30 PST
Watch: CSN NW; Listen: Rip City Radio 620 AM
Blazers injuries: Festus Ezeli (out)
Lakers injuries: Larry Nance Jr. (out)
SBN Affiliate: Silver Screen & Roll
In the second of three meetings this month, the Trail Blazers will face the Lakers in Los Angeles tonight. Just days removed from Thursday’s victory, Portland will look to claim another victory over its southern opponent. This matchup pits two of the NBA’s worst defenses against each other, which should make for another high-scoring slugfest.
After losing to the Blazers last week, the Lakers have managed to reel-off two consecutive victories. Granted, those games were against the Heat and Magic, but the Lakers will take anything they can get after their disastrous run to close out 2016. Meanwhile, Portland dropped a double-overtime thriller to the Pistons on Sunday.
If the Blazers want to extend their winning streak over Los Angeles, they will need to do a better job of slowing down D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson. The Lakers managed to get 43 points out of their young backcourt in a losing effort to the Blazers, which is fairly impressive when you consider that Russell went 0-for-8 from beyond the arc. A repeat of those shooting woes from the former Ohio State guard is unlikely, so coach Terry Stotts has to be prepared to send help on the perimeter.
Despite winning the rebounding battle in the last meeting, the Trail Blazers struggled to keep the Lakers off the glass for long stretches. Even with their limitations, coach Luke Walton isn’t afraid to play Thomas Robinson and Tarik Black simultaneously. The athleticism that duo provided Los Angeles helped them force turnovers and limited Portland’s second-chance opportunities.
If Stotts can find a way to mitigate those threats posed by the Lakers, the Blazers should be able to ride their perimeter players to victory. Allen Crabbe is playing out of his mind right now. He put up a solid 14 points against Los Angeles on Thursday, and followed that performance with a career-high 30 points against Detroit on Sunday. Crabbe isn’t the only one making noise off the bench, as Evan Turner willed Portland to victory - 15 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter - in the last meeting between these two teams.
Damian Lillard is only two games into his return from injury, and the rust is visible late in games. Luckily for the Trail Blazers, CJ McCollum is in the midst of an astonishing run of play. On top of inciting a flurry of trade speculation, McCollum has managed to score 35 points in three out of the last four contests. If his numbers stay on this pace, Portland might have to have a serious discussion about who is the alpha in the backcourt.
The Blazers are on a quick turnaround after a taxing double-overtime game against the Pistons, so this is far from a guaranteed victory. Reducing the turnover total from Sunday should be the top priority for Portland in this contest. If the Blazers can play efficiently, it should be enough to topple the developing Lakers.
Blazer’s Edge Night 2017
Want to assist us in sending 2,000+ underprivileged Portland-area kids to a Trail Blazersgame this spring? Check out Blazer’s Edge Night 2017 for information on how to get involved, and help spread the word!