Team Records: Lakers (20-39) at Portland (41-18)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on KGW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -12
Refs: Bill Spooner, Tre Maddox, Leroy Richardson
The Skinny: The Blazers look to keep the good times rollin’ as they host the (tied for) last place in the west LA Lakers. Since the two teams last met in December, the Blazers are 27-15 and the Lakers are 12-21. LA has lost seven of their last nine, although they are coming off a win over the Kings, who were without the suspended DeMarcus Cousins in Friday’s match-up.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers built a big lead after three and then hung on late as they won for the first time in LA since April 2010. Aldridge had 27 points and 9 rebounds and Lopez had 12 points and 12 rebounds to lead the way to victory.
Projected Lakers Lineup:
PF-Wesley Johnson (Syracuse-4th Season)-9.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.4 APG.
SF-Kent Bazemore (Old Dominion-2nd Season)-3.7 PPG, 1.1 RPG, .7 APG.
C-Pau Gasol (Spain-13th Season)-17 PPG, 10 RPG, 3.3 APG
SG-Jodie Meeks (Kentucky-5th Season)-14.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.7 APG.
PG-Kendall Marshall (North Carolina-2nd Season)-9.2 PPG, 3 RPG, 9.4 APG.
Player to Watch-Kendall Marshall (pictured at right)-When it came time for the Blazers to pick a PG in the 2012 NBA draft, there was some debate at least over whether the Blazers should select Lillard or Kendall Marshall. They went with Lillard, obviously the right call while Marshall found himself out of the league almost as quickly as Lillard found himself being touted as a rising star. Well the good thing about all the PG injuries the Lakers had this year is it opened the door for Marshall to get another shot and he has made the most of it. Marshall is a pure point guard, not the greatest shooter in the world (although that has improved a fair bit this year) but a very good passer who is more than capable of competently running an offense. Marshall isn’t very good on defense, which makes sense since no one on LA really is this year but in among the dark clouds that are the Lakers this year, he is at least a tiny ray of sunshine.
Did You Know?: This season will be just the sixth in Lakers history (Minneapolis and LA) that the Lakers will miss the playoffs.
Song of the Day: “Main in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson-Supposedly Nick Young’s favorite song and since we can all use a little “swag” in our lives, it seemed appropriate. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-PF/C Joel Freeland (Knee), PF Thomas Robinson (Patella Tendon).
LA Lakers: Out-SG Kobe Bryant (Knee), PG Steve Nash (Nerve Root Inflammation), SG Nick Young (Knee), Probable-C Chris Kaman (Back)
Re-Evaluating the Lakers: Records Don’t Matter in Rivalries
Yes the Lakers are awful and no that does not make a damn bit of difference as to how much fun it is to beat them. The fact is that when it comes to sports rivalries while it is more fun to have lots of close games (that your team hopefully wins), its almost as satisfying to just beat the crap out of your rivals. I’ll give you an example from my experience. I’m a huge Oregon Ducks fan and UO has beaten the UW Huskies ten years in a row, every time winning by seventeen or more and with none of the games truly being that close. I take great satisfaction in blowing out UW every year and I suspect Blazers fans feel the same with the Lakers. In sports rivalries, only the results and bragging rights matter, not whether it was a close game in the first place.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They are focused. This an awful awful Lakers team that hasn’t beaten anyone who is any good since a win over Toronto back on January 19th. If the Blazers are focused and ready to go, they will win.
LA Lakers win if: They play from ahead. The Lakers are not a team that has shown a lot of spark coming back from big deficits this year. It is essential for LA that they play from ahead and control the game if they are to win.