Blazers: 22-25 (5th Northwest Division)
Lakers: 29-18 (1st Pacific Division)
Game Details: Staple Center Los Angeles, CA. 7:30 PM. TV: KGW. Radio: 750 AM (KXTG)
Projected Blazers Lineup: PG Raymond Felton (#5, 6’1”, North Carolina), SG Wesley Matthews (#2, 6’5”, Marquette), SF Nicolas Batum (#88, 6’8”, MSB Le Mans, France), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (#12, 6’11”, Texas). C Joel Przybilla (#10. 7’1”, Minnesota)
Projected Lakers Lineup: PG Steve Blake (#9, 6’3”, Maryland), SG Kobe Bryant (#24, 6’6”, Lower Marion High School), SF Metta World Peace (#15, 6’7”, St. John’s), PF Pau Gasol (#16, 7′, FC Barcelona, Spain)
I’ll keep this one brief because like you I want to soak up the last rays of Portland sunshine that we may ever see before tip-time of what might be another horrendous Trail Blazer game. It also might not be so horrendous, though. Portland has a lot of opportunities with this one tonight in Los Angeles (a place where they laugh in our faces and ask what’s this rain thing you speak of all the time).
Here are those opportunities in order of importance: 1) Portland has a chance to prove to what remains of its television fan base that they can put together two good-effort games in a row. 2) The Blazers have a chance to give Kaleb Canales his first victory at the Staples Center. That’s a big deal. 3) Portland wins this game, and they’ve got the season series. Bla bla bla Playoffs, bla bla bla seeding, bla bla bla advantage having won twice in their opponents area (the Playoffs aren’t happening I just couldn’t stop myself from mention the season series win potential). and 4) Portland can pull off the rarely seen but highly coveted double-Gasol, a maneuver in which both Gasol brothers are beaten in subsequent nights. A win Friday would give Portland the home-road double-Gasol. Not quite as special as the road-road double-Gasol, but certainly one step better than the home-home double-Gasol.
But in all seriousness, the Blazers began to really hit the skids when they got pasted at Staples just over a month ago. That game, another one on national television, made everybody question this team’s desire to win, it’s ability to win, and it’s shelf life. That Blazer team (which is still mostly this Blazer team) was embarrassed that night. It was embarrassing to watch. It was embarrassing to write about. It was probably as embarrassed as I’ve ever been in my time as a Blazer fan. This team knows that.
They also know that a hard fought game in Staples will be enough to erase the memory of that first trip. More than anything, a fan base like the one Portland has wants to be given a reason to cheer for their team. I don’t expect Portland to win Friday night, but if they at least play hard and don’t get down by 30 in the first half, that can be considered at least a minor victory. And if they do win? Well then it’s Playoff time baby (not really, I just couldn’t help myself. See @blazersedge for the implications of winning games at this point in the season and instructions on the most effective hand-drawn graphs).
Couple of things I will be watching for:
- LaMarcus Aldridge: LA didn’t have a great game against Memphis. The Lakers are like the Grizzlies, only bigger. LA struggles against aggressive bigs that play physical basketball. A big game from him is going to be key.
- Nicolas Batum: Time for Nic to become the man on offense. Nothing takes a trend and turns it into a national or global frenzy like a big offensive night at Staples, just ask Jeremy Lin.
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