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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers Preview

Both teams are licking their wounds after epic collapses.

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Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers

Portland Trail Blazers (11-10) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (7-12)

On Tuesday night versus the Los Angeles Clippers, the Portland Trail Blazers had everything going their way until they didn’t. After leading by as many as 18, the Blazers collapsed in the fourth quarter and lost by a score of 118-112. Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant were electric, putting up 37 and 32 points respectively. However, only three other Blazers managed more than 5 points. The high scorer of that bunch was Jusuf Nurkic with 13.

The Los Angeles Lakers had a collapse of their own against the Indiana Pacers in their last game on Monday, and it was doozy. With 9:59 left of the fourth quarter, the Lakers had a 17 point lead. Less than two and a half minutes later, the lead was down to 10 with the Lakers not scoring at all during that stretch. As time continued to elapse, the Lakers continued to collapse. All that was left was for Andrew Nembhard to drill a three pointer at the buzzer to hand the Lakers a 116-115 loss.

Tonight the two teams will face each other, each looking for redemption.

Trail Blazers vs. Lakers - Wednesday, November 30 - 7:30 p.m. PT

How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA TV, NBA League Pass

Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Gary Payton II (out), Keon Johnson (Out)

Lakers injuries: Cole Swider (out), LeBron James (probable), Anthony Davis (probable)

SBN Affiliate: Silver Screen and Roll

The Matchup

  • Pace. The Lakers lead the league in pace at 103.43, while the Blazers are 28th at 97.08. The Lakers have played at a fast pace in both their wins and losses. Interestingly, the Blazers are tied for 12th in pace when looking at just wins and are 27th when looking at just losses. Will the Blazers slow down LA’s pace or will LA speed up the Blazers pace? There might be a benefit to the Blazers if it’s the latter.
  • Encourage them to shoot the three. The Lakers are simply bad at scoring from deep. They are second worst in the NBA at three point percentage, shooting a miserable 32%. Between that and the fact that they don’t attempt all that many, they have the least makes in the NBA at 9.6 per game. Portland averages 12.1 makes per game, so that alone is a 7.5 point advantage for the Blazers. If the Blazers can encourage the Lakers to attempt – and miss – more than average, that could be a difference maker.
  • Late game execution. The Lakers couldn’t do anything right in the fourth quarter against the Pacers. Poor shot selection, terrible defense, turnovers, bad rebounding, boneheaded plays... a regular smorgasbord of yuck. After some incredible success early in the season in crunch time, the Blazers have come crashing back to earth. Against the Clippers, Portland didn’t display the mind-numbing ineptitude that the Lakers did, but their play down the stretch certainly left a lot to be desired. It’s easy to imagine a game that goes down to the wire, so late game execution could very well decide this one.

What Others Are Saying

The Lakers’ collapse against Indiana points to possible future trouble writes Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times.

Here are the three biggest things that failed them — all three things that should have the Lakers concerned moving forward even despite a recent run of better basketball.

Jovan Buha of The Athletic (subscription required) plows through the myriad of trade scenarios swirling around the Lakers.

The other benefit of waiting until at least Dec. 15 to make a move is that the Lakers can trade players they signed in free agency. One name to watch is Patrick Beverley, who’s the fourth-highest-paid player on the team at $13 million. Beverley is a still an elite defender and one of the group’s vocal leaders, but he’s averaging a career-low 4.1 points per game and shooting a career-worst 23.8 percent on 3s. Beverley, like Kendrick Nunn, could still have value on teams looking for veteran backcourt help. The Lakers’ needs and glut of guards make both expendable.

The Lakers are ruing the loss to the Pacers, especially as December looks to be very tough according to SB Nation NBA Staff.

Like the adage goes, it was ultimately just one game. But given the context of what’s waiting around the corner this bruise may linger around for awhile. As the calendar turns to December, so will the level of competition for the Lakers. Of the 16 games on the slate this upcoming month — the most of any team during that span — 11 will come against squads currently playoff eligible, and 12 will come on the road.