Despite falling to the Nuggets in Denver Wednesday night, the Lakers have shown that when healthy they have the ability to beat any team in the NBA. The loss dropped Los Angeles (14-15) to below .500 and ended a five-game winning streak, but the Lakers are looking to start a new streak against a red-hot Portland Trail Blazers (14-13) squad tonight. This will be the second matchup of the season between the two teams, with Portland edging out the Lakers 116-106 on Halloween.
The Lakers have improved vastly in one week thanks to the return of Steve Nash. It is difficult to understate the greatness of Steve Nash as a player. He is one of the best shooters of all time but his passing ability is what makes him so valuable to the Lakers. If the Lakers, currently in 11th in the West, finish the season in the fifth or fourth spot in the West and enter the playoffs, don’t be surprised if Nash’s name is being talked about for MVP. He has completely turned the team around since his return.
Kobe Bryant continues to play the best basketball of his career, even though he is in his 17th year as a professional. Metta World Peace has played consistent basketball despite his off game in Denver. Lakers fans are still waiting for the two Lakers big men, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, to have a big game. The two can make excuses about not being healthy but if both give it their all on any given night, a 20/20 game could easily be had.
The Trail Blazers lineup is filled with players that drive the Lakers crazy. J.J. Hickson, Wes Matthews, Nick Batum are notorious in LA for being Lakers killers. Lakers fans know what they’ll see from LaMarcus Aldridge, he is a highly skilled big man that eats up finesse big men like Pau Gasol. Damian Lillard is hands down the rookie of the year front-runner and will terrorize the Lakers for years to come. Despite all the talent Portland espouses they don’t play well on the road, accruing a record of 4-9 away from the Rose Garden, and having been dominated by the Lakers at Staples, losing 9 of their last 10 visits. However, the Trail Blazers have won 6 of their last seven games so something has to give in tonight’s matchup.
#24 Bryant SF #88 N. Batum
#16 Gasol PF #12 L. Aldridge
#12 Howard C #21 J.J. Hickson
#1 Morris SG #2 W. Matthews
#10 Nash PG #0 D. Lillard
The game tips off at Staples Center at 7:30PM PT and can be seen on TWC SportsNet and heard on ESPNLA 710.
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