Photo by Harry How | Getty Images

The (4-3) Los Angeles Lakers are on the road tonight to face the (4-1) Portland Trail Blazers, at their personal house of horrors, the Rose Garden. Portland’s Rose Gardens are world renown for housing a diverse and expansive collection of rare, unique and beautiful roses.

The tenants of the Rose Garden house a tough, young, athletic team ranked 4th in league in points scored (102.0), 2nd in rebounding (47.2), and 10th in assists (21.8) and 11th in points allowed (94.0).

The Blazers added a talented member to their backcourt in Raymond Felton this off-season. Felton is solid point guard who pushes the pace, a very capable penetrator who can finish, reliable outside shooter, solid defender and an upgrade over Andre Miller.

The key player for the Lakers to slow down is LaMarcus Aldridge who is coming off a career year. Aldridge is an elite low post scorer with an unblockable turnaround jumper. Aldridge runs the floor well, possesses a good mid-range game and excels at spinning out of post for lob passes at the rim.

The purple and gold beat the Rockets last night behind a solid effort from their big three; Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol posted a 72-point, 38-rebound night. Highlighted by Kobe Bryant’s 37 point, eight rebounds, 6 assists & one blocked shot and Andrew Bynum’s first 20/20 night scoring 21 points, grabbing 22 rebounds and blocking three shots.

For the Lakers, playing at the Rose Garden has been difficult. The Lakers won last season’s series (3-1), which marked their first season series victory over the Trail Blazers since 2004-2005. It was just the third time since 1989 (2004-2005: 2-1 and 1992-1993: 3-2).

The Lakers are 5-5 against the Trail Blazers in their last 10 games overall. Despite being able to snap a 9-game losing streak at the Rose Garden on 2/6/2010, their first since 2/23/2005, the Lakers are just 4-16 in their last 20 regular season games including a 2-8 mark in their last 10.

The Blazers are a long team, but Portland doesn’t have anyone to match up with Andrew Bynum’s width. Bynum is 285 lbs. and has a significant weight advantage over 37 year old Marcus Camby listed at 235 lbs.; and has more in his back pocket than both Aldridge & veteran reserve Kurt Thomas.

Coach Mike Brown plans to play his 24-year old center 34 minutes a game as his conditioning continues to improve and now expects double-doubles from Andrew Bynum on a regular basis. Due to the Lakers playing a traditional offense now and no Lamar Odom, Bynum will get more touches and he has to play aggressive and dominate. Bynum has the ability and skill-set to dominate, the numbers posted against the Rockets should be the norm for him and not the exception.

The Lakers need to start their offense on the inside and establish both Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol in the painted area. Both of the Laker bigs should average a double double on a nightly basis. The Lakers do not have a large margin for error and having both Bynum & Gasol dominate inside would help the Lakers put teams away early.

The Lakers need to stop the dribble penetration, control the tempo, do a good job defending the pick-and-roll-play and get back in transition. The Lakers have to take care of the ball, play focused with a high energy level, defend, out-rebound the Blazers, limit Portland to one shot per possession, rotate out to open shooters and challenge every shot.

The Lakers bench has to be a factor and knock down shots. The Lakers have to continue to develop their young players.

Starters
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, M. Barnes, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Blazers:
R. Felton, W. Matthews, G. Wallace, L. Aldridge, M. Camby

Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST

Television

  • Los Angeles: TNT  & KCAL
  • Portland: TNT

Radio

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
  • Portland: 95.5 FM (Brian Wheeler & Antonio Harvey)

Injuries

Lakers:

  • Derrick Caracter (Torn Lateral Meniscus, Left Knee) Out
  • Kobe  Bryant (Torn Lunotriquetral Ligament, Right Wrist) Probable
  • Pau Gasol (Sprained Right Shoulder) Probable
  • Josh McRoberts (Sprained Left Thumb & Left Big Toe) Doubtful
  • Matt Barnes (Bursitis, Left Hip) Day-to-Day

Blazers:

  • Greg Oden (Knee) Out