The quickly deflating Portland Trail Blazers are looking to the Los Angeles Lakers for a scarce win as the two teams face off for the second time this week. In what will be their third in-season tournament game - and therefore played on a blindingly red court - Portland continues to be without their best player, their arguably third-best player, their most important player to develop, and their best defensive player. The Lakers, meanwhile, may be without both LeBron James and Anthony Davis, with Lebron still nursing a nagging calf injury and Davis suffering hip discomfort.
As LeBron James tallied a triple-double and becoming the second-oldest player to do so, he saw his star teammate flounder, the hip trouble likely contributing to Davis’ nine-point performance in their recent loss to the Sacramento Kings. While his production can at times be described as mercurial, backlash from Lakers fans was so harsh that it led to ANOTHER set of fans coming to his defense, a defense that’s likely well-earned. Five of the Lakers’ six most effective lineups with 15 or more minutes together include Anthony Davis, and the only two lineups that earn the Lakers a positive net rating include him (just one of those two lineups include LeBron James).
Is that to say that Anthony Davis is more important than LeBron? Probably not, because even at his advanced age, LeBron commands attention and directs the floor in a way Davis can’t. But if the Lakers have any hope whatsoever of a second, non-bubble title with this iteration of the team, it will be because AD is playing.
Los Angeles Lakers (6-6) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (3-8) - Fri. Nov. 17 - 7:00 p.m. Pacific
How to watch on TV: Root Sports, NBA League Pass
Trail Blazers injuries: Anfernee Simons, Scoot Henderson, Robert Williams III, Malcolm Brogdon (out)
Lakers injuries: Anthony Davis (probable); LeBron James (questionable); Jalen Hood-Schifino, Gabe Vincent, Jarred Vanderbilt (out)
SBN Affiliate: Silver Screen and Roll
Blazer’s Edge Reader Questions
As has been Blazer’s Edge tradition since last week, we’re asking you all to toss some questions at us for the game previews! Look posts just like this one the night before the game, and we’ll plan to pick one or two (or more!) every game and answer them as best we can. Without further adieu:
“How will tomorrow’s game affect Lebron’s Historical Legacy? How will tomorrow’s game affect Bouyea’s monthly payments on his Subaru Legacy?”
One thing I’ve always appreciated about the Blazer’s Edge community is their unwavering willingness to ask the TOUGH questions. Let’s answer the most important of these questions first. Jamaree Bouyea makes approximately $498k on his two-way contract, nine times the median salary of the average US worker, making him an attractive client to lock in a loan at a low APR. Working against him is that NBA careers can be short, and there’s no guarantee his income will be the same next year. On the flip side, if he plays well, he could secure a multi-year contract in the millions. From all this, let’s assume he has good credit and he could he a 6.44 percent APR loan for a 2024 Subaru Legacy Touring XT that retails at $38,000 with a modest $5,000 down payment repaid over five years. That would put Bouyea’s monthly payment at $644, paid off just in time to celebrate the Blazers’ second consecutive championship.
As for LeBron, his entire legacy hinges on this game. No two ways about it.
How many consecutive centuries would the Lakers have to miss the playoffs before Blazers fans felt sorry for their fans?
There’s a myth that Blazers fans hate Lakers fans. That’s not true. We loathe them, and we loathe them even more than Newman loathes the record store guy. It would take a level of organizational incompetence the likes of which we’ve never seen for the Lakers to be bad enough long enough for us to feel sorry for them, because at the end of the day, they are, after all, in Los Angeles, a very popular American city with good weather.
From Name’s Ash:
Why do the Lakers even exist?
Not sure, but the Lakers existing is proof that the NBA hates us.
D’Angelo Russell puts up better than average numbers in the regular season. Is he the right point guard for the Lakers when the playoffs roll around?
Not sure about the “right” point guard, but he’s the one they have, so he’ll have to do. Barring a midseason trade with assets the Lakers can’t draw from, he’s going to be running point, and to his credit he did fine in last year’s playoffs until the Denver series when he fell off a cliff. If you’re a Lakers fans (shudder), you hope that his being with the team for a full season and adjusting into his role will help when the games start to matter.
About the Opponent
Jovan Buha of The Athletic (subscription required) details the very familiar Lakers story of, “shoot, we lost a game... better trade for a disgruntled player!” this time starring Zach Lavine:
The Lakers’ interest in LaVine is real — at the right price. However, LaVine’s potential availability also hints at the possibility of a fire sale in Chicago, with the organization seemingly looking to finally pivot away from its longstanding mediocrity. If additional Bulls players become available, the Lakers would also have interest in DeMar DeRozan and/or former Laker Alex Caruso, according to multiple team sources.
Edwin Garcia of Silver Screen and Roll has a brief piece detailing Lakers’ fans backlash to Davis’ nine-point Kings performance and how Davis didn’t want to use injury as an excuse:
During the game, there were moments where you could visually see the discomfort Davis had. He would grimace and gingerly walk to the sideline during timeouts or touch the top of his hip to massage the pain away. The medical staff did come over to him a couple of times, but he quickly denied any help or assistance and still played 35 minutes. Before fans come at Davis with pitchforks, he made it clear his hip discomfort is not justification for his poor performance. “I just played bad,” Davis said. “I’m not going to put it on anything. It was just missed shots. I just played like s— tonight, to be honest. Just that simple.”
Stephen Noh of The Sporting News argues that Rui Hachimura has earned more playing time in a Lakers rotation that, after the demotion of Austin Reaves, still feels less-than-settled:
Hachimura is averaging a career-low 20.6 minutes per game, the ninth-most on the roster, despite being the second-best per-minute scorer on the team behind only LeBron James. He did not enter the game during the competitive portion of the fourth quarter in the team’s loss to the Kings on Wednesday, and his minutes have been all over the place for the whole year... Hachimura has been fantastic as a cutter and floor spacer, but he is capable of taking on a bigger chunk of offensive responsibilities. He should get more opportunities to be the guy, allowing James to rest more throughout a long regular season.