Team Records: Portland (29-8) at LA Lakers (12-25)
Game Info: 6:30 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -6
Refs: Derrick Stafford, Tony Brown, Eli Roe
The Skinny: The Blazers look to beat the Lakers for the second time in less than a week as they travel to LA Sunday evening. :LA is coming off a blowout win over Orlando in their last game Friday night. Portland is seeking its third straight road win against the Lakers, which would mark the longest such streak since a run of four straight road wins in LA from 1994-1996.
Last Time They Met: Lillard bailed Portland out once again as he rescued the Blazers with 16 points in the last half of the fourth quarter in a 98-94 Blazers win. Portland was also helped by Meyers Leonard, who had a four point player to help spark the comeback.
Projected Lakers Lineup:
PF-Ed Davis (North Carolina-5th Season)-8.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1 APG.
SF-Wayne Ellington (North Carolina-6th Season)-7 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.2 APG.
C-Jordan Hill (Arizona-6th Season)-11.9 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.5 APG.
SG-Kobe Bryant (Lower Merion (HS)-19th Season)-23.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 5.3 APG
PG-Ronnie Price (Utah Valley-10th Season)-5.3 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 3.6 APG.
Player to Watch-Kobe Bryant (pictured at right)-It is hard to imagine a player I sports hate more than Kobe Bryant. No single athlete has given me as much grief as this one. Yet, I can’t help but respect him for all he’s accomplished. Kobe is not the most talented player in the NBA and he never has been but he’ has a fierce competitiveness of the likes I’ve only seen before in Michael Jordan. Kobe will rip your heart out to win a game, or prove you’re wrong. He does not accept those that give less than his extremely high standard of effort, which is part of the reason perhaps why someone like, say, Dwight Howard, never got along with him. He’s not the player he once was but this future first ballot hall of famer is still pretty darn good.
Did You Know?: Wesley Matthews’s father, Wes Matthews Sr., played for the Lakers from 1986-88.
Song of the Day: “Mighty Oregon” by the Oregon Marching Band. Go Ducks, beat Ohio State! Enjoy:
Portland: Out-C Robin Lopez (Hand), PF/C Joel Freeland (Shoulder), SG Allen Crabbe (Knee)
LA Lakers: Out-PG Steve Nash (Sciatic Pain), PF Julius Randle (Tibia), Questionable-SG Kobe Bryant (Rest)
Re-Evaluating the Lakers: They Thought They Had a Chance
Look homerism and myopia that your team is better than they actually are is one thing that we are all guilty of. We all see things through Blazer-colored, or Laker colored, or whatever colored, glasses. Yet, what the Lakers publicly thought this season was possible was, to put it mildly, nuts. One online sports columnist wrote in September “ The Los Angeles Lakers are healthy, have new direction and a solid team mentality, and contrary to what the so called experts are saying, they WILL make the NBA playoffs next year. Charles Barkley will be eating his words next season, and I’m sure there will be plenty of people to remind him to do so. He won’t be the only one either, as many people expect the purple and gold to flop in 2014-15.(http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/52419/20140904/nba-predictions-cant-stop-haters-but-los-angeles-lakers-will-make-the-playoffs-in-2014-15.htm)” Well, Nash got hurt, then Randle went down opening night but frankly even if neither had happened this was no playoff team. It was a sort of cruel joke for the Lakers to suggest they had a chance at the playoffs but after all the pain they’ve caused Blazers fans over the years, a little joke on them is well deserved.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They make Kobe play selfish. When Kobe plays selflishly, the Lakers struggle. The ball doesn’t move on offense and the team can’t score that well. If the Blazers can make Kobe try to do it on his own, they should win.
LA Lakers win if: They play from ahead. The Lakers almost pulled off the win Monday and were it not for Lillard being Lillard they would have. The formula remains the same though. This is a LA team that has to play from ahead and not try to come from behind, if they want a chance at a win Sunday.