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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers Preview

It’s going to be another strange night.

Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (21-34) vs Los Angeles Lakers (26-29)

The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Los Angeles Lakers for the second game of a back to back in the Moda Center. The Blazers are fresh off a midseason retooling of their roster that has left them losers of six straight games. The Lakers are coming off of a loss against the Bucks and are also coming into this game on the second night of a back to back.

Wednesday, February 9- 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports NW, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Nassir Little (out), Keon Johnson (out), Eric Bledsoe (out), Josh Hart (out), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (out), Tomas Satoransky (out), Didi Louzada (out)
Lakers injuries: Dwight Howard (out), Kendrick Nunn (out), Carmelo Anthony (out)
SBN Affiliate: Silver Screen and Roll

What To Watch For

  • Full-fledged tank. If there was any doubt about the direction of the Blazers last week, that doubt is gone. With the recent trades the Blazers don’t seem to be trying to win many games. The Blazers now have potentially two lottery picks assuming they and the Pelicans both miss the playoffs. Cap space has been freed up for next offseason, draft picks have been stockpiled, and all that is left to do now is lose as much as possible to try and complete the one year tank model that the Golden State Warriors demonstrated is possible.
  • New Contributors. The former New Orleans Pelicans are currently listed as out for this contest, but so was Justise Winslow for the Milwaukee Bucks game the day after he was traded. While unlikely, it is possible that all three healthy new acquisitions could play their first game in a Blazers uniform. If not, all eyes will be on other recent addition Justise Winslow. Winslow has so far averaged nine points and seven boards per game in his first two outings as a Blazer, and that production seems primed to increase as he becomes more and more acclimated to the Blazers’ system.
  • Lakers big three. The trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook has not gelled as much as the Lakers hoped when they traded for Westbrook last offseason. However, if there was ever a chance for the three to have a good game and get back on track, it’s against the 28th ranked defense of the Blazers. If the Blazers can keep them from succeeding as a unit they will hope to be able to exploit the seeming lack of chemistry between the three.

What Others Are Saying

Harrison Faigen from Silver Screen and Roll laments the woes of the Lakers to take the step into serious contention this season.

Stop me if you’ve heard this story before: The Lakers played against a title contender on national television, and in front of the entire country, got absolutely punked. On Tuesday night, it was the Milwaukee Bucks, but the opponent and the exact specifics don’t really matter at this point. The main takeaway is that the Lakers just don’t even appear to be playing the same sport as their fellow would-be title contenders.

To illustrate that fact, I published this recap between the third and fourth quarter. The Lakers are down 109-83, and while I’ll update with the final score later, this team was down 30 by midway through the third frame. I’m not wasting my time, and to be honest, if you still have your TV on at this point, good for you. And if they have another one of their now-patented fake comebacks to make it look closer than it was, good for them.

Lakers Daily’s Ron Gutterman talks about the impact that Trevor Ariza could have for the Lakers if they are able to get consistent play from him.

If the Lakers can get a consistently reliable version of Ariza, it drastically changes the types of lineups they’re able to put on the floor. Having a length wing defender that can shoot threes is a massive bonus for any team, but especially one that struggles defensively.

James cannot be relied on as the team’s primary wing defender all season, mainly due to preservation for the playoffs. Ariza was supposed to be someone who could reliably guard wings in the regular season but hasn’t been that due to injury and inconsistency.