Showtime: 7:00 pm PT
Plot: Believe it or not kids, there was a time when the Los Angeles Lakers were winning titles. Yes, for real!
The dominant inside-out duo of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol led Phil Jackson's triangle offense to a string of 57-plus win seasons, while cobbling together a great defense that's rarely given it's proper credit. The team had fantastic role players like Trevor Ariza, Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum, Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar who rounded out two NBA Champion rosters. Those teams were truly great and sometimes flat out dominant. But even in those rosy scenarios, the Lakers could not win in Portland at the Rose Garden.
Tonight as LA visits the PDX, hope for a W has to be at an all-time low. The Lakers are loitering at places the franchise has never seen in it's time in Southern California, on track for their worst record in the past 50 years. Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers are absolutely rolling, vying for the third best record in the Western Conference and on a five game winning streak. All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge is freshly returned from a groin strain, and bringing back his nightly 24 points and 11 rebounds with him. Put this all together and it doesn't look like the Lakers have a chance. What more of a preview do I really need to write?
However, if they're going to go down, they'll do so with one of their healthiest team in recent weeks. Xavier Henry should return tonight to a suddenly crowded back court rotation from knee troubles that have sidelined him for two months. He'll try to find minutes alongside Kent Bazemore, MarShon Brooks, Kendall Marshall, Jordan Farmar and Jodie Meeks, as well as taking up time at the SF position next to Wesley Johnson. Henry is currently on the clock that's ticking towards this summer's free agency period, as the Kansas product desperately needs to show some more traction if he hopes for a multi-year deal in a few month's time.
Everything else remains the same for the Lakers--even when they shoot well, like on Friday's win against Sacramento when they made 60% of their FGA, they came within a couple of possessions of losing the game. This team is one of, if not the worst defensive rosters in the NBA, which doesn't bode well considering that they're playing arguably the best scoring offense in all of basketball. If there's any small sliver of hope, it's that oddly enough, this calendar year the Lakers have more road wins (4) than home wins (3). However, that is partially a symptom of all of those victories being in the putrid Eastern Conference rather than LA's play away from home.
Considering how difficult it is to get a win in Portland in even the best scenarios, tonight's game could be a disaster of epic proportions.
But enjoy Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge everyone! They're great.
--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino