Team Records: Portland (25-29) at LA Lakers (26-29)
Game Info: 7:30 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: Lakers -9
Refs: Mike Callahan, Pat Fraher, Mark Lindsay
The Skinny: The Blazers travel south to LA to face the Lakers as they attempt to stop their losing streak at six. Portland is facing a Lakers team that has been playing better as of late but is still on the outside looking it. Portland last won at Staples vs. the Lakers in April 2010.
Last Time They Met: Portland got behind early and never caught up, losing by 17 in a game that wasn’t nearly that close.
Projected Lakers Lineup:
PF-Earl Clark (Louisville-4th Season) 8.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.1 APG.
SF-Metta World Peace (St. John’s-14th Season)-12.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.5 APG.
C-Dwight Howard (Southwest Atlanta Christian (HS)-9th Season)-16.4 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 1.5 APG
SG-Kobe Bryant (Lower Merion (HS)-17th Season)-26.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.6 APG.
PG-Steve Nash (Santa Clara-17th Season)-11.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 7.4 APG.
Player to Watch-Kobe Bryant (pictured at right)- Let me start this by saying I hate Kobe Bryant, I hate him with a passion that I haven’t felt since Karl Malone retired and perhaps more than I have ever sports hated any other player in any other sport. I hate his swagger, I hate that he comes up big against us and I hate the Kobe fanboys that crowd the Rose Garden every time the Lakers visit. Yet, Kobe has made a career out of taking that hate and that distrust and the scorn he gets and using it to motivate him. Outside of Michael Jordan it is hard to think of a player in my lifetime who has more competitive fire and wins more games simply because he wants it more. There is plenty of talent, oh yes, but Kobe isn’t as talented as LeBron James or Michael Jordan, but that competitive fire that burns in him has landed him a spot in the hall of fame as surely as any one of his “Are you fucking kidding me that went in” jumpers. When he retires in a few years, I’ll even admit to missing him a bit because no lie, he’s pretty fun to hate.
Did You Know?: Since Jerry Buss bought the Lakers in 1979, the team has won ten titles and missed the playoffs only twice.
Song of the Day: “Do You Know Your Enemy” by Green Day. Blazers fans surely know their enemy the Lakers all too well. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), Questionable-SG Wesley Matthews (Ankle/Elbow)
LA Lakers: Out- PF Pau Gasol (Foot), C Jordan Hill (Hip).
Re-Evaluating the Lakers: Jerry Buss’s Legacy
An argument can be made that Jerry Buss was the greatest owner in modern sports history. His amazing record of success is certainly unequaled by any in the NBA’s modern era and arguably only the late George Steinbrenner’s Yankees come close in any other sport. What Buss did was made the Lakers what they are today and ensured their place near the top of the global sports pantheon for generations to come. Buss is personally credited with inspiring the Lakers “Showtime” era and from Magic and Kareem to Shaq and Kobe he built a foundation of success that none will probably ever equal in the NBA. Even as much as Blazers fans hate the Lakers you can’t help but respect what Buss did as their owner.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They make the Lakers selfish. The key to beating both Kobe and Nash has always been to make them beat you with their shots, which deadly as they are, aren’t quite as effective as when they are moving the ball to open shooters. It’s a long shot but frankly with the talent deficit the Blazers have, it’s the best chance they’ve got.
LA Lakers win if: They play their game. The Lakers are the better team and if they come in and play anywhere close to their potential, they should come out with a fairly easy win.