By Jordon Hall
The Los Angeles Lakers (9-8) return home, from their three game road trip, to play the surging hot Portland Trail Blazers (13-3) tonight at 9:30 ET. For the Lakers to remain above .500 they will have to do multiple acts on defense to achieve this task.
Stop the 3:
The Portland Trail Blazers have the third best three-point shooting percentage in the NBA at 41.5% only behind the Golden State Warriors and defending champions Miami Heat. It is be important for the Lakers to play tight perimeter three-point defense and force the Trail Blazers to take long, contested two-pointers.
Clog the paint:
LaMarcus Aldridge is playing at an elite to start off this season with averaging 22.1 points and 9.6 rebounds. Aldridge has gotten a lot of help from his new frontcourt teammate Robin Lopez. Lopez has been averaging 8.3 points and 8.1 rebounds and actually playing solid defense in the paint. Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill whom have both been cleared to play (ankles) will be forced to step-up more on the defensive-side of the court.
Wednesday night against the Pistons, the Los Angeles Lakers gave up 22 offensive rebounds and 76 points in the paint. The Trail Blazers will be throwing the ball down low to Aldridge and Lopez to the Lakers in the paint without no real shot blockers unless you want to count Wesley Johnson now. For the Lakers to win the big men must play with high energy and have the guards keep the three-point shooting to a minimum.
Lets see if the Lakers can follow that up….
Well it was ugly, then pretty, then back to ugly, then back to pretty, yet still lost the game. Problem with the Lakers tonight was they were so inconsistent. They were hot, than cold in cycles all night, being down by 17 in the first quarter and then 20 to start the forth.
Lets start with the first quarter as the Laker had only 2 points until the 5:54 mark when Nick Young knocked down some free throws. Luckily for the Lakers they ended the quarter only trailing 8 after being down those 17 points. The great comeback was led by the young studs in Young and Xavier Henry, which was followed by a Steve Blake buzzer beating 3
Lakers even came back to take the lead at the 5:20 mark of the game in the second quarter which lead to them only trailing the Trail Blazers by three at halftime. Then the third quarter happened.
Trail Blazers just went on a giant run with scoring 41 points in the third. That is just a big no-no. No defense as the Blazers just had their way with three-point shooting, and feeding the ball to Aldridge, which just took the life out of the Staples Center.
The forth quarter comes and out of the blue the Lakers are now starting a comeback lead by new Laker fan favorite Xavier Henry. Henry showed a lot of heart in the forth when sparking this run with leading fast breaks, dunks and steals. Henry hit a 3-pointer and-one that brings the Lakers back to six.
With 4:30 left to go Wesley Johnson gets another monster block (that he can add to Friday’s block) that added extra momentum in the Staples Center. Laker fans are on their feet as the Lakers cut the Trail Blazers lead to 99-98 on a Shawne Williams tip-in with 3:44 left to play.
Damien Lillard though stab the dagger in the Lakers heart as he hit a three with 2:54 left which led to a Wesley Matthews three. This led to the Lakers playing the fouling game as the Trail Blazers hit five of their last six free throws in the final seconds to end the game.
There are lots of positives for the Lakers to look at. Henry had a career-high in points with 27, Robert Scare career high with points at 12. Let that sink in, Scare, a guy who was a bench warmer all last season helped the Lakers bring momentum back into the Staples Center. Jodie Meeks added 20 and Young with 17. Lakers need to play more consistently, if so they would have beaten this red hot Trail Blazer team. They have four days off until their next game in against the Kings in Sacramento.