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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers Preview

The Blazers look to secure a win in the City of Angels.

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NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (18-13) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (22-11)

The Portland Trail Blazers are in Los Angeles, ending their road trip taking on the Lakers. It has been a tough trip for the Blazers, with their first two games being losses. However, the Lakers have lost their last four games everyone seems to be losing their minds about it.

Friday, February 26 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBC Sports Northwest, ESPN, or see games all season on fuboTV, follow on ESPN+, or the ESPN/Disney Bundle*
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out), CJ McCollum (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Harry Giles (out) Lakers injuries: Anthony Davis (out), Dennis Schroder (out), Lebron James (day to day), Markieff Morris (day to day), Kyle Kuzma (day to day)
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What To Watch For

  • An exhausted Lakers team. There’s been a lot of talk about the Lakers and their incredibly short offseason due to Covid-19 pausing last season, and all the adjustments that have been made since. The Lakers played all the way to the very end of last season. That means they only had an offseason of just 71 days. With the All-Star break coming up, the team seems to be slowing down, which may end up being a good thing for the Trail Blazers even though they had just a slightly longer offseason.
  • Injuries galore. The Lakers have been without Anthony Davis and it has hurt them. It’s hard not to make the comparison that the Trail Blazers have been without three of their starters for the majority of the season, and yet they have more wins than losses in that time. A match-up of these two injured teams should be interesting with Portland being accustomed to fighting through adversity while Los Angeles seems to be struggling with it.
  • Derrick Jones Jr. and Robert Covington. The defensive duo has been really finding their place with the team lately. The two players were brought in to help out with the Blazers struggling defense, and early on this season it looked like it wasn’t going to be enough, but they have really been finding their groove and contributing. Between Derrick Jones Jr.’s high flying dunks and Robert Covington finding his 3 point shot, these two are really meshing with the returning players—and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

What Others Are Saying

Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen and Roll detailed Markieff Morris’ post game interview after their tough loss to the Utah Jazz:

“It’s an unbelievable amount of basketball that we all are playing. Mentally it gets draining, especially when you lose,” Morris said. “But like I said before: We need this. This is a mental test for all of us to see where we’re at without our best players, and we’ve just got to work from there.”

The Lakers appear to be struggling offensively, but the truth is, the entire NBA has improved since last season. Sam Quinn of CBS Sports talks about it:

And yet, on a relative basis, they’re struggling. The pre-bubble Lakers ranked fourth on offense last season. The current iteration is ranked 17th. They are scoring more in the half court, but their rank has fallen from 17th to 20th. The problem isn’t that the Lakers have gotten worse. The problem is that everybody else has gotten better, and they’ve all gotten better in the same way: They’re shooting historically well from behind the arc.

Dwight Jaynes of NBC Sports Northwest reported on the upcoming game with a Stotts quote:

“It’s going to be a challenge,” Coach Terry Stotts said. ”They’ve lost a few in a row. They want to get back on track, I imagine.

”They got beat last night pretty handily by Utah, so I think it’s going to be a pretty motivated team, I think LeBron will be a very motivated player.

“I expect a very competitive team.”