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Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers Preview

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The Lakers are riding a three-game winning streak but the Blazers will look to avenge an earlier loss.

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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Portland Trail Blazers Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (10-3) at Los Angeles Lakers (7-6)

Wednesday, November 14 - 7:30 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (probable), Moe Harkless (out)
Lakers injuries: None
How to watch on TV: ESPN,
How to stream: WatchESPN, YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Silver Screen and Roll

After holding off the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night, the Lakers are over .500 for the first time since November 22, 2016. Riding a bit of a wave that started when they signed 10-year veteran Tyson Chandler, the Lakers have won three in a row and are eager for a fourth.

The Trail Blazers look to avenge a November 4 loss which featured a miserable 16-point third quarter. Despite 30 points from both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, and 13 rebounds each from Jusuf Nurkic and Al-Farouq Aminu, the Trail Blazers were not able to overcome the Lakers’ energy.

What to watch for

  • Who will close the game for the Lakers? In their down-to-the wire victory over the Atlanta Hawks, the Lakers closed the game without a point guard. In an effort to put all their best defensive players on the floor, Luke Walton sat both Lonzo Ball and Rajon Rondo. If the game is close, will Walton opt to let LeBron take over ball handling duties?
  • Is new addition Tyson Chandler the missing piece the Lakers needed? Before Chandler arrived, backup center was played by committee with Kyle Kuzma, Lebron James and rookie Johnathan Williams all logging minutes at the center position. In Chandler’s three games with the Lakers their defensive rating has dropped from 111.5 to 97.4 (per stats.nba.com). The Blazer’s big men face a tough challenge against the Lakers’ newest player.
  • Will Damian Lillard’s knee injury hold back the Blazers? After taking an awkward fall against the Celtics, Lillard missed Tuesday’s practice and spent 4 hours rehabbing his knee. Lillard has been key against the Lakers this season scoring 28 in their first matchup and 30 in their second. Although he is listed as probable for the game, look for CJ McCollum and Evan Turner to step up to the plate and help run the offense when needed.

What they’re saying

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports writes that LeBron is feeling the growing pains of his new team. When asked if he had adjusted his leadership style, he admitted that it has been tough.

‪“I haven’t changed anything outwardly, but you know me. You know how I am. I almost cracked [last week]. I had to sit back and remind myself, ‘[Expletive], you knew what you were getting yourself into,’” James told Yahoo Sports while laughing after Saturday’s win in Sacramento. “This process has been good for me. I just have to continue being patient.”‬

Coach Luke Walton is still adjusting lineups and the players are getting used to the uncertainty. Broderick Turner of the L.A. Times talked to the young players about how they are adapting.

“It’s an adjustment period,” said Kumza, who finished with 18 points. “You never kind of really know. But we’re all professional and you just kind of got to plan accordingly. So, whether Zo [Ball] is out there, Josh is out there, whoever, it doesn’t really matter. Whoever is out there has to close it out and be professional about it.”

Jubilant after their win over the Hawks, the Lakers still have far to go. Harrison Faigen at Silver Screen and Roll reflects that the game could have easily gone the other way. Nevertheless, the team will enjoy the feeling of victory.

The atmosphere would have been a lot more somber had the Lakers blown what should have been an easy game against an inferior opponent, but after several losing seasons in Phoenix, Chandler is just excited to be part of wins again, no matter how ugly.

“I still get excited by every single win,” Chandler said. “Just cherishing every single one of those moments and trying to grow at the same time.”

Team Mom (@tcbbiggs) wrote this preview with an assist by Cassidy Gemmet (@CassidyGemmet).