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Preview: L.A. Lakers At Portland
When: 10:30 PM ET, Saturday, January 23, 2016
Where: Moda Center at the Rose Quarter, Portland, Oregon
The Portland Trail Blazers seek to complete a three-game season series sweep and defeat Los Angeles for the seventh consecutive time when they host the Lakers on Saturday. The success against Los Angeles is the best Portland has enjoyed since beating the Lakers a franchise-record eight straight times from 1993-95.
The Trail Blazers are playing the second contest of a seven-game homestand but it didn’t start well as they dropped a 104-98 decision to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Standout Portland guard Damian Lillard averages 24.3 points per game but that figure has dipped to just 16 during the past three games on 19-of-56 shooting. The Lakers continue to lose with regularity and Friday’s 108-95 defeat against the San Antonio Spurs was the team’s fifth straight and ninth in their last 10 games. Kobe Bryant had just five points on 2-of-9 shooting versus the Spurs and is averaging 7.2 points and shooting 28.8 percent from the field during the past six games while being hindered with Achilles and shoulder injuries.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TWC SportsNet (Los Angeles), CSN Northwest (Portland)
ABOUT THE LAKERS (9-36): After a bumpy start to the season, rookie guard D’Angelo Russell has settled in and scored in double digits in six consecutive games. Russell scored 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting against San Antonio and is averaging 14 points during the six-game stretch. “Every month we take a pretty good assessment on where our guys are, and every month he’s improved on both ends of the floor,” Los Angeles coach Byron Scott told reporters. “It’s not a big giant jump, but it’s just small gradual improvement. That’s what I want.”
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (19-26): Lillard will be aiming to end his minislump and bolster his odds of being selected as an All-Star reserve against the Lakers, a team he has enjoyed success against. Lillard is averaging 29.5 points and 10 assists in this season’s two meetings and has scored 20 or more points in 10 of 13 career games against Los Angeles, including five 30-point outings. He was just 1-of-6 from 3-point range against the Hawks but had plenty of company in terms of the poor shooting as Portland was just 9-of-31 overall from long distance.
1. The Trail Blazers won the first two meetings by an average of 13 points and have won each of the past five games by double digits.
2. Los Angeles rookie PF Larry Nance Jr. (knee) is expected to sit out his fourth straight contest.
3. Portland SG C.J. McCollum is averaging 26.5 points in the last two games after shooting 33.3 percent from the field during a six-game span.
PREDICTION: Trail Blazers 111, Lakers 98