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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers Preview

The Blazers will try to build some momentum at the expense of the Los Angeles Lakers

Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (4-5) vs Los Angeles Lakers (5-4)

What a relief. The Portland Trail Blazers weren’t always convincing, but they’ll gratefully take their 110-106 win over the Indiana Pacers Friday night. Robert Covington scored the last six points on two three pointers to seal the deal for Portland. No time to celebrate as the Blazers welcome the Los Angeles Lakers on the second night of a home back-to-back.

The Los Angeles Lakers come in to Portland reeling after blowing a big lead to lose to the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder by a score of 107-104 Thursday night. Adding insult to injury, that was the second time in eight days that the Lakers blew big leads and lost to the Thunder. With LeBron out for the near future at least and Davis banged up, Lakers fans are nervous. No better time for Portland to beat LA.

Saturday, November 7 - 7:30 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: ROOT Sports, NBA TV, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: None
Lakers injuries: LeBron James (out), Talen Horton-Tucker (out), Kendrick Nunn (out), Trevor Ariza (out), Anthony Davis (questionable)
SBN Affiliate: Silver Screen and Roll

What To Watch For

  • Maybe take the over. Let’s be honest. Neither the Blazers or the Lakers are playing very good defense right now. The Lakers have a defensive rating of 107.2 while the Blazers are at 108.8, good for 16th and 22nd respectively. It gets worse. The Lakers’ opponents are shooting 45.8% from the field while the Blazers’ opponents are hitting at a 46.4% clip, good for 24th and 25th in the NBA. Statistically the Lakers’ 3 point defense is somewhat better, but neither team is passing the eye test, routinely leaving guys wide — and I mean wide — open beyond the arc. Both teams are shooting reasonable well from deep, so the scorekeeper could be getting a workout.
  • More help from the supporting cast. The bad news: Damian Lillard shot 15.4% from the field against Indiana. The good news: he only took 13 shots, his second lowest total of the season. Some of those shots Dame didn’t take went to CJ, Covington, Powell and Simons, all of whom shot over 50% from the field and at least 50% from deep. Both Covington and Powell had their season high in points, and those points were desperately needed. Unless Lillard somehow turns it around against the Lakers the opportunity will be there for others to pick up the slack.
  • The Blazers need to take advantage. With LeBron our for sure and Davis questionable, the Blazers are catching a break. According to our friends at Silver Screen and Roll, the Lakers offensive rating plummets 5.8 points whenever James isn’t on the court. When you catch a break (or possibly two), you really need to gratefully accept it and come away with a win.

What Others Are Saying

LeBron won’t play for the Lakers for a bit, and that’s cause for concern according to Cooper Halpern of Silver Screen and Roll.

Still, the LakeShow must go on, even with its star performer out of commission. Unfortunately, as has historically been the case with all teams constructed around LeBron, as soon as he leaves the floor, so does the team’s ability to generate any sort of offense. Last season, the Lakers’ offensive rating fell by 6.8 points when LeBron left the floor, the difference between having an above-average offense and one within the league’s bottom quarter. This season, despite Frank Vogel’s attempts to aggressively stagger James’ minutes against Russell Westbrook’s, the Lakers’ offensive rating falls by 5.8 points whenever LeBron sits.

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes that it’s not just the Blazers that have concerns about their defense.

Far too often the Lakers have offered little resistance on defense, and it has allowed teams at the low end of the NBA spectrum like Oklahoma City to exploit that weakness.

After the Thunder worked over the Lakers yet again Thursday night, after another major collapse, L.A. dipped some more in the defensive ratings.

Bill Reiter of CBS Sports has asked folks around the NBA about what to make of the Lakers shaky start.

To get a sense of what the larger NBA community thinks, CBS Sports talked to more than a dozen executives, scouts, former players and those who have worked with LeBron. Here are some of their views.