The Los Angeles Lakers hit the road Saturday night to take on the Portland Trail Blazers.
Coming off a Christmas Day defeat, we’ll see how Los Angeles does after a few days off. The Lakers started the year at 24-3 and have since dropped four games in a row. These kinds of streaks can really happen to any team, with the task of getting back on track the tough part.
It is great to be battle-tested so early in the season because if the Lakers can just get one win, it could set them off on their latest winning streak. LeBron James leading the NBA in assists is a nice touch for them.
Portland, on the other hand, looked dead in the water for most of its game with Utah on Thursday, with only Damian Lillard showing up. But the Trail Blazers got hot late in the third and into the fourth. CJ McCollum went off down the stretch, and Carmelo Anthony had his moments.
But Anthony wanted to be the hero at the end and came up short, rather than allow the shot for Lillard. The Trail Blazers have been better of late and will eventually get healthy. They likely won’t reach the Western Conference Finals again, but they should make it to the playoffs.
The visiting Lakers enter as 3.5-point favorites, with the moneyline having the Lakers -156 and the Blazers +132.
Trying To Start Up Again
The Lakers opted to move Avery Bradley into the starting lineup for the first time since his return from injury against the Clippers as coach Frank Vogel tried something new amidst the slump. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope slid back into a bench role, and while Kyle Kuzma had it going off the bench, the Lakers were simply unable to perform as needed.
James is attempting to play through a groin injury and should have a favorable matchup against Kent Bazemore. He and Anthony Davis have excelled as teammates and will once again hold the keys to a win. This is also another chance for Dwight Howard to step up off the bench.
Defense is the name of the game for Los Angeles, and Davis will likely have the task of covering Anthony. He shouldn’t have too many issues limiting the post-ups while being able to dominate around the hoop on the offensive end.
Lillard has been killing it all year after showing the world what he is really made of in the postseason last year. Now making over $48.5 million a year, he has to continue to improve. McCollum is not too far behind as a lethal shot-maker, with neither guy able to be easily slowed down. The team goes as they do, with Carmelo stepping in as the No. 3 scorer.
Hassan Whiteside struggled against Utah but should have a chance to bounce back against JaVale McGee and Howard. He has been focused and locked in this season, leading to some impressive production. He has fit well.
Anthony and Bazemore will need to make shots for the Blazers in this one, while the second unit, led by Anfernee Simons, has to bring some energy for them to truly have a shot at a win.
James Leads Lakers
Four straight losses, and finally, the Lakers will get it done. Portland will fall Saturday night as the Lakers bounce back.
Free Play: LAL -3.5
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