The Los Angeles Lakers will take the court for the first time since the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant when they host the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
When folks look back at this game days, weeks, months, or even years from now, nobody is going to remember the score. This game could matter less for the standings and what it will mean for these teams on the floor. This game is going to be all about Bryant. A 20-year Lakers legend who always left it all on the floor.
He was supposed to be in attendance for this game, and now, of course, that is not possible. Expect Carmelo Anthony to be emotional but also locked in.
For LeBron James and the Lakers, it is going to be hard to play. Wearing the Lakers uniform carries history in itself, all of these guys part of the greatest, most-storied franchise in the history of professional basketball. And having to now carry that chip of carrying on the legacy of Kobe Bryant, it’s not easy.
It is going to be as emotional as ever, as the Lakers find it as tough to will themselves on as ever. But, they will come ready to play. A win or a loss will truly not make a difference for either team Friday night, but one thing is for sure: It will all be left on the floor.
The Lakers are 12.5-point favorites, while the over/under is set at 229.5.
Trying To Keep It Together
Coming off a win in which Damian Lillard had his first triple-double, the Trail Blazers will look to try to inch a little closer to .500. Anthony was very close with Bryant over the course of his career, while new addition Trevor Ariza started alongside Bryant during his days in Los Angeles as they won titles together. So this will definitely be hard for both of them, but as long-time NBA players, they will push through it in his memory.
Portland is still missing several key guys, and there is a rumor of a 50 percent chance of a Hassan Whiteside trade. How many guys averaging 15 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks a night have ever been traded midseason?
Portland has five guys in its starting lineup who can put the ball in the hoop. It is the Blazers’ defense, though, that still needs work. That is where this game will be won or lost.
This one might be the toughest game in Lakers history. Tougher than all of the Game 7s and clinching situations. More than any playoff game or rivalry game. This is THE Kobe game, where it should be nothing but tributes.
And being the top team in the West this year and the best Lakers team since Kobe was at the helm makes it even more meaningful. If there is one player that can push through adversity like its nothing, it would be James. Expect them to be prepared to play, despite this terrible hardship they have all had to deal with.
Quinn Cook will start wearing No. 28 Friday night, a tribute to honor Kobe’s daughter, Gianna Bryant, who wore No. 2, and Kobe from his days of No. 8. He is one of 11 players to pay tribute to the late legend by changing his number from either 8 or 24.
Lakers Win A Close One
Again, the result of this one is truly not important, more than the fact that they are even able to play a game in the same week as the tragedy. Don’t be surprised to see multiple players score 24 in this one as a tribute.
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