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Lakers vs. Trail Blazers Preview: Back to basketball

The Lakers have to play a game tonight, their first since the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others over the weekend. No matter how strange it feels, we have to go back to talking about the game, too.

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Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

I can’t believe this day is here. Even nearly a week later, I can’t believe that I’m writing a preview of the first Lakers game since Kobe Bryant died.

How am I supposed to write about, or pretend to care about how this team matches up against the Portland Trail Blazers? Why does that even matter, right now? And forget me, how is the team and the organization itself supposed to focus on a basketball game right now?


That’s how. I’ve been sitting here, staring at this blank line for who knows how long trying to come up with something profound to say, but there is just the word that keeps popping into my brain.


We have to mourn, grieve and try and return to normalcy.


Tonight that won’t work. Nothing is going to be normal about this night. I wouldn’t be surprised if even the squeaking of the shoes and the whooshing of a ball swishing crisply through the net sound different in a post-Bryant world.

There will be tributes. There will be speeches. There will be tears shed. But maybe, just maybe, by all gathering together in the heart of Los Angeles — whether in person or by proxy through the television and internet — we can watch the game Bryant, his daughter Gianna and everyone else on that helicopter loved so much, and begin the process of healing.

It’s not going to feel normal. But maybe it’s the first baby step back towards normalcy. Sometimes, that’s all we can do.

Notes and Updates

  • This feels callous, and there is no way for the transition to not feel abrupt, but we have to start at some point, so here are a few things to know heading into tonight’s game.
  • The Lakers originally listed Alex Caruso (neck soreness) and Anthony Davis (gluteus maximus contusion) as questionable for tonight’s game, but Davis will play, and Caruso has been upgraded to a game-time decision.

The Lakers tip off against the Blazers in Staples Center at 7:30 p.m. PST. They will be doing this giveaway for those in attendance:

There have also been — and likely will continue to be — a few sneaker tributes:

Hang in there as we all go through this together, and follow our own Christian Rivas (@RadRivas) for more updates from Staples Center tonight.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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