Team Records: LA Lakers (13-39) at Portland (35-17)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on KGW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -13.5
The Skinny: The Blazers look to make it four wins in five games as they head into the all-star break as they take on the hopeless Lakers. LA is without Kobe, which arguably makes them at least a more watchable team but they are merely awful instead of unwatchably horrible. LA has won only one of their last fifteen games.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers broke open a close game in the fourth as they cruised to a 106-94 win in LA. Lillard scored 17 of his game-high 34 in the fourth to put the game out of reach.
Projected Lakers Lineup:
PF-Tarik Black (Kansas-Rookie)-4.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, .4 APG.
SF-Ryan Kelly (Duke-2nd Season)-4.3 PPG, 2.9 RPG, .9 APG.
C-Robert Sacre (Gonzaga-3rd Season)-4.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, .7 APG.
SG-Wayne Ellington (North Carolina-6th Season)-9 PPG, 3 RPG, 1.3 APG.
PG-Jordan Clarkson (Missouri-Rookie)-7.3 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.5 APG.
Player to Watch-Jordan Clarkson (pictured at right)-Jordan Clarkson is exactly the sort of player you see on a really bad team. A player who might not get a chance on a good team, or even an average team, getting a chance to start because the Lakers are horriawful (one of my favorite words). Clarkson is a shoot first, shoot second, shoot third point guard who seemingly went to the Nick Young school of never passing the ball. He’s aggressive at attacking the basket, which is good because his outside shot is terriawful. He’s a decent enough defender and could grow into an end of the bench player at best on a team that isn’t as bad as the Lakers. For now, though, he’s the best LA’s got.
Did You Know?: The Lakers are 3-3 in OT games…and 10-36 in all others.
Song of the Day: “California Love” by 2 Pac. Yes its overplayed but its a good song. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-PF/C Joel Freeland (Shoulder)
LA Lakers: Out-PG Steve Nash (Sciatic Pain), PF Julius Randle (Tibia), Questionable-SG Kobe Bryant (Rotator Cuff), C Jordan Hill (Hip)
Re-Evaluating the Lakers: A Long Road Back
Its not so much that the Lakers are bad, plenty of teams are, its that they are bad without any seeming path out of the bottom. Kobe’s contract will anchor them down for at least one more year, then assuming competent management (which they haven’t shown since Jerry Buss died), they’d need some luck to be good anytime soon. Even this year, there is probably at best a 50 percent chance they give up their first rounder to the Suns as part of the Nash trade (its only top 5 protected). If that happens, its even harder to see the Lakers being any good anytime soon. Yet, we’ll still be forced to watch them 30 times a year on national TV because…apparently TV gets good ratings off showing trainwrecks.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They play their game. The Lakers are very good, we are good. If the Blazers play as they should, this game should not be close.
LA Lakers win if: They make lots of 3s. LAs best chance, since their defense is absolutely horrible, is for Nick Young, in particular, to make a bunch of 3s and hope they get lucky. Even then, it may not be enough for the Lakers to win.