The Los Angeles Lakers hit the skies on Wednesday as they made their way to Oregon to face the Portland Trail Blazers in a Thursday night special on TNT. The purple and gold are coming off their best game of the season, and with a national television audience watching them, have a chance to legitimize themselves with back-to-back wins.
Winning in the Rose Garden is one of the NBA’s most daunting tasks, but the Lakers are catching Portland on the second half of a back-to-back. Making matters even more ideal, the Trail Blazers lost in overtime Wednesday night in Utah, so that might be creak the window open just enough for the Lakers to escape with a win.
This is the biggest defensive test yet for the Lakers’ perimeter rotation, with C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard each averaging over 20 points per game. This is the exact scenario where paying Kentavious Caldwell-Pope $17.7 million is supposed to pay off, so we’ll see how that goes. There’s also no hiding Lonzo Ball with Portland’s dynamic backcourt.
Brandon Ingram had an impressive game against the Detroit Pistons and should be another key in the Lakers’ defensive effort. Even if he isn’t matching up with one of McCollum or Lillard at times — hint: he should be — his help defense should make an impact again.
Challenging the Blazers on the road is going to take the Lakers digging in, and their reward, even if they win? A quick flight back to Los Angeles to face the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. With a chance to get back to .500 on the line, let’s see how the squad responds to two very big outings.
Enjoy the game!
Time: 7:30 p.m. PT