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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers Preview

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The Blazers look to make it 17 in a row against the Lakers.

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Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (6-2) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (3-5)

Saturday, November 3 - 7:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Maurice Harkless (out)
Lakers injuries: Michael Beasley (out - personal),
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Silver Screen & Roll

The Portland Trail Blazers are looking for their fourth win in a row and an incredible 17th in a row against the Los Angeles Lakers. The last time these two teams met was the season opener on October 18 at Moda Center. Portland won that contest 128-119 thanks to 28 points from Damian Lillard and 24 points from a scorching Nik Stauskas.

The Lakers are coming off a narrow 114-113 victory at home against Dallas. They appeared to be cruising in that game but gave up 32 points in the fourth quarter while scoring only 20 themselves to turn a comfortable lead into a nail-biter. LeBron James split a pair of free-throws with two seconds left to give the Lakers a one-point victory.

What to watch for

  • Can the Blazers keep LeBron in check? The Lakers begin and end with LeBron James. In the season opener, LeBron scored 26 and had 12 rebounds and 6 assists. The Blazers can live with that kind of a line again. Preventing a huge night from the Lakers’ superstar has to be the highest priority.
  • Expect a lot of scoring. In spite of their 3-5 record, the Lakers are averaging 121 points per game. The problem is that they are giving up 121.1 points per game. The Blazers are averaging 118.9 points while giving up 110.4. Last time these two teams played they collectively put up 247 points. Don’t be too surprised to see a combined total again above 230. 250 or 260 isn’t completely impossible either.
  • Portland’s second unit needs to continue playing well. If it seems like Portland’s bench is scoring a lot, that’s because that’s exactly what is happening. Blazers subs are averaging 43.1 points per game, good for second place in the NBA. The Lakers in contrast are scoring 36.1, landing them in 27th place. A good night for the Portland bench will go a long way to ensuring a Blazer victory.

What they’re saying

Magic Johnson is mad, but that doesn’t mean Luke Walton should be worried about his job according to Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

Johnson, president of basketball operations, shouted and cursed at Walton, according to multiple sources who weren’t authorized to speak publicly. He asked Walton what he was doing with the team, wanting to see an offensive system in place that had yet to be implemented. At one point he chided Walton for interrupting him.

It was a tense meeting at a low point in the season, but it was not an indication of a pending change.

Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes that the Lakers are trying to be more than just LeBron’s team in the crunch:

Everyone knows James, 33, has been clutch in big moments throughout his career, and that’s a big reason that the Lakers were thrilled to sign him this summer. But the coaching staff believes they need a contingency plan. They don’t just want to be a team that leans on James for everything.

“Part of what we’re trying to do here is we know LeBron can win games,” Coach Luke Walton said. “And it’s important for us to win games, but we also know where we’re trying to get to. We need other people that are going to step up and make plays.”

LakerFilmRoom of Silver Screen and Roll sings the praises of JaVale McGee on the defensive end:

JaVale McGee is the only new arrival who’s done more good than harm, leading the NBA with 3.25 blocks in just 28.3 minutes per game. Blocks and steals are not necessarily indicative of quality defense, and McGee certainly has holes in his game on that end, but his ability to erase mistakes has been vital to an otherwise undersized team that’s vulnerable at the point of attack.