The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off of their worst loss of the season and will take on the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center tonight. The Lakers suffered a 34-point defeat against the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night and never really gave themselves a chance.
The Lakers have lost four straight games, one of which came to the Trail Blazers on Sunday. In the previous matchup, the Lakers did not have an answer for Damian Lillard, who lit them up for 30 points and had a career-high 13 assists. Lillard and the Blazers controlled the pace from the start, and the Lakers had to play catch-up for the rest of the game. The Lakers made it relatively competitive in the second half, but ultimately gave the game away in the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Damian Lillard caused major problems for the Lakers and was a key contributor for the Blazers on Sunday. There was no stopping Lillard, as he took over the game and had a career night. He started the game extremely hot from beyond the arc, so the Lakers need to make their best effort to keep the ball out of his hands.
Alongside Lillard in the backcourt is C.J. McCollum, who gave the Lakers issues himself on the offensive end. McCollum scored 19 points of his own and also dished out five assists in the last matchup with the Lakers. Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell have their hands full yet again to try to limit this dynamic duo from taking control of the basketball game.
One player who the Lakers need to keep track of tonight is Mason Plumlee. Plumlee is not a player that teams usually adjust their game plan for, but after he scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against them on Sunday, the Lakers will pay close attention to the big man.
Al Farouq-Aminu also contributed in the Blazers victory over the Lakers, scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds of his own. His work on the defensive end created many scoring opportunities for the Blazers in transition.
Keys to Victory:
Limit Lillard: It is much easier said than done, but the Lakers need to do anything they can to keep Lillard from taking over the game. In the first matchup, Lillard started the game with a wide-open three-pointer and that gave him a rhythm for the rest of the game. The Lakers can play much better defense and when he gets rid of the ball, they need to keep it out of his hands.
Trust Each Another: The Lakers have struggled all season to find an identity and have yet to build trust with one another. This has been apparent in just about every game when they turn the ball over and fail to rotate defensively. The veterans of this team need to help the young core establish an identity, so the team can finally trust each other and win some basketball games.
Back to Basics: The Lakers need a refresher on some of the basic basketball fundamentals: boxing out, talking on defense, ball movement, and shot selection. This team has been an offensive rebounder’s dream to go against, and hustle players have torn the Lakers apart by creating second chances for their team. The ball sticks in one player’s hands too often on offense, and when that happens there is very little movement off the ball. This in turn leads to poor shot selection. Coach Byron Scott needs to focus on making sure the Lakers are not forgetting to do fundamental things on the court.
Los Angeles Lakers (2-12) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (6-10)
7:00 PM PST, November 28, 2015
Moda Center, Portland, Oregon
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 (Spanish)
Trail Blazers Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Damian Lillard
SG: C.J. McCollum
SF: Al-Farouq Aminu
PF: Noah Vonleh
C: Mason Plumlee
Key Reserves: PF: Ed Davis, C: Chris Kaman, PF: Meyers Leonard
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Jordan Clarkson
SF: Kobe Bryant
PF: Julius Randle
C: Roy Hibbert
Key Reserves: SG: Lou Williams, SF: Nick Young, PF: Larry Nance Jr.