Coming off a day that was filled with multiple reports detailing a contentious meeting between Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and head coach Luke Walton, the team now faces a challenge in the form of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Including this year’s season opener, the Lakers have dropped 16 games in row to the Trail Blazers, and are just 6-20 in regular-season games played in Portland since snapping a nine-game losing streak in Rip City in February 2010.
Damian Lillard doesn’t figure to make it easy on L.A. as they search for a rare win at Moda Center. He’s averaging 29.1 points per game, good for second-most in the NBA, and the Trail Blazers are on a three-game winning streak.
They’ve gone 3-1 at home thus far, with the only loss a one-point defeat to the Washington Wizards in overtime. Working in the Lakers’ favor is they are a more cohesive unit than when they last faced the Trail Blazers.
Moreover, JaVale McGee has emerged as a dominant defensive anchor, averaging a league-best 3.3 blocks per game. There’s also the factor of Walton seemingly finding an effective starting unit that features both Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma.
Defense nonetheless remains a cause for concern as L.A.’s 112.4 defensive rating is ranked 21st in the NBA. Walton and several of the players have emphasized rebounding as a unit to finish out possessions rather than leaking out early to jumpstart a top-10 offense.
The Lakers lead the NBA in fast-break points at 24.6 per game, with LeBron James second among all players at 6.6 points on the break and Kuzma ranking eighth with 4.8
Los Angeles Lakers (3-5) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (6-2)
7:00 P.M. PT, Nov. 3, 2018
Moda Center, Portland, Oregon
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Brandon Ingram
SF: LeBron James
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Josh Hart, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Jonathan Williams
Projected Blazers Starting Lineup:
PG: Damian Lillard
SG: C.J. McCollum
SF: Maurice Harkless
PF: Al-Farouq Aminu
C: Jusuf Nurkic
Key Reserves: Evan Turner, Seth Curry, Nik Stauskas, Meyers Leonard, Zach Collins