The Los Angeles Lakers travel up north to face the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center on Wednesday, hoping to recover from the heavy loss they suffered the previous night.
Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook will sit out the tail end of L.A.’s back-to-back, as will Kendrick Nunn — who has been ruled out with a knee bone bruise until March, at least.
For Westbrook, this marks the first game he’s missing this season as he deals with lower back tightness.
The 2017 NBA MVP is averaging 10.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 7.0 assists, shooting 27.5% from the field and 15.4% from beyond the arc in the last four games, with the back issue perhaps contributing to his poor play.
As the Lakers lose one player to a back injury, they get another back as Dwight Howard is active after missing the last two games.
Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers will show a completely new look compared to the previous meeting between the two teams, as they have traded the majority of their core players away over the last few days.
Damian Lillard, Nassir Little, Cody Zeller as well as the newly-recruited Didi Louzada and Keon Johnson will miss the matchup with the Lakers due to long-term injuries. Also, Eric Bledsoe struggles with a lingering Achilles issue and will likely watch the Wednesday clash from the sidelines.
Former Laker Josh Hart, who was acquired in the CJ McCollum trade, is not playing either.
The many changes Portland has gone through lately make it a tricky matchup for the Purple and Gold, who won’t know what exactly to expect from their Western Conference rivals.
Hence, Frank Vogel is likely to stick with a similar lineup he deployed against the Bucks — possibly putting Stanley Johnson back in the starting unit after his 16-point performance against the Bucks.
Johnson could provide Anthony Davis with support in the paint, going against Jusuf Nurkic who dominated the glass early in last week’s clash. As Howard won’t be able to help Davis crash the boards this time, DeAndre Jordan might see some rare on-court action in Portland.
The Trail Blazers won’t be able to count on Norman Powell to hurt the Lakers from distance again, as the talented wingman has joined the L.A. Clippers. But they will still have Anfernee Simons to lead the way on the offensive end, who’s scoring 15.9 points per game while shooting 43.8% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc in his breakout season.
Lakers (26-29) vs. Trail Blazers (21-34)
7:00 p.m. PT, Feb. 9, 2022
Moda Center, Portland, Oregon
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Malik Monk
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Stanley Johnson
PF: LeBron James
C: Anthony Davis
Key Reserves: Talen Horton-Tucker, Austin Reaves, Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington, Dwight Howard
Projected Trail Blazers Starting Lineup:
PG: Anfernee Simons
SG: Dennis Smith Jr.
SF: Ben McLemore
PF: Justise Winslow
C: Jusuf Nurkic
Key Reserves: Trendon Watford, Greg Brown III, CJ Elleby
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