The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to keep their winning streak going when they host the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center to wrap up a four-game homestand to start the 2020-21 NBA season.
L.A. managed to take care of business on both ends of the floor during their 127-91 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that they managed to do it without Anthony Davis in the mix as he was sidelined with a right calf contusion.
Kyle Kuzma put the onus on himself to pick up the slack with a game-high 20 points on 4-for-6 shooting from deep. He also made his presence felt on defense with three blocks — second only to Marc Gasol’s four.
The nature of the blowout allowed the Lakers to give heavy minutes to their bench. Although Montrezl Harrell provided his usual contributions, Taken Horton-Tucker proved to be the biggest beneficiary with 12 points, three assists and two steals in 21 minutes.
The Trail Blazers are coming off an impressive overtime victory that saw them battle back from a 15-point deficit at home versus the Houston Rockets. Their win was spearheaded by a 44-point, eight-assist effort from CJ McCollum. Damian Lillard added 32 points and nine assists.
As explosive as their offense is thanks to its potent backcourt, Portland still boasts one of the most porous defenses in the league that is allowing 118.8 points per 100 possessions, which is good for the second-worst in the NBA.
Pair that with the fact that Carmelo Anthony will be sidelined due to safety protocols and they have their work cut out trying to match the Lakers’ firepower.
With Anthony out, the Blazers will likely rely on Gary Trent Jr. to take on an increased role coming off the bench. Meanwhile, the Lakers expect Davis to return from his minor injury. LeBron James’ status is unclear after he tweaked his previously sprained left ankle.
Lakers (2-1) vs. Trail Blazers (1-2)
7:00 p.m. PT, Dec. 28, 2020
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: NBATV, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Kyle Kuzma
PF: Anthony Davis
C: Marc Gasol
Key Reserves: Montrezl Harrell, Markieff Morris, Wesley Matthews, Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker
Projected Trail Blazers Starting Lineup:
PG: Damian Lillard
SG: CJ McCollum
SF: Robert Covington
PF: Derrick Jones Jr.
C: Jusuf Nurkic
Key Reserves: Enes Kanter, Rodney Hood, Gary Trent Jr.
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