The (49-20) Los Angeles Lakers are at Staples Center tonight hosting the red-hot (40-29) Portland Trailblazers. Portland, winners of three straight and seven of their last nine games are always a tough opponent.
The Lakers will be playing without the services of Andrew Bynum. The league hit Bynum with a two-game suspension without pay, for his flagrant foul two on Michael Beasley. I do not think the foul was with malicious intent. It appeared to be more the product of a physical game. The Lakers are gearing up for playoff basketball and physical play is a part of it. However, they will miss Bynum’s defense, 15.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks a game.
The league suspension should not come as a surprise to anyone. The moment Bynum was late coming over to stop the penetration to the basket, he made the decision to bump Beasley, as oppose to contest his shot at the front of the rim. You had to know that the league would respond.
It was disappointing watching the play develop, knowing the outcome, after witnessing Bynum raise his level of play, do a great job of protecting the rim, blocking and changing shots since the All-Star break. It’s un-timely because the Lakers were playing well heading into the Minnesota game. They started slow, looked lethargic, as if the squad needed a collective B-12 shot and not like a team that had three days of rest.
The Lakers have to stop the dribble penetration of Andre Miller as well as limit his scoring opportunities. They have to do a solid job defending the screen and roll play, quickly rotate out to open shooters and extend their defense out to behind the arc. The front-line has to be aggressive on both ends of the court and attack the basket early and often. They have to adjust to playing without their shot blocker and do a solid job of position defense, keeping their men in front of them.
The Lakers have to play with defensive focus and offensive discipline. They have to match the intensity of their opponent. They have to chase Wesley Matthews from behind the arc. Matthews has been a big reason for the Blazers winning, averaging 19.8 points while shooting 62.5 percent from three-point range in his last five games. LaMarcus Aldridge is going to get his points, they have to limit the impact of Nicholas Batum, Gerald Wallace and the Blazers’ bench.
Tonight poses a serious challenge to the Lakers. They have to dominate the painted area and out rebound the Blazers. The bench has played well and needs to continue to make an impact for the Lakers.
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, R. Artest, Lamar Odom, P. Gasol
Blazers: A. Miller, W. Matthews, N. Batum, G. Wallace, L. Aldridge
Tip-off: 6:30 PM
- Los Angeles: FS West (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- Portland: CSN (Mike Barrett & Mike Rice)
- Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Bill MacDonald & Mychal Thompson)
- Portland: 95.5 FM (Brian Wheeler & Antonio Harvey)
- Andrew Bynum (League Suspension)
- Theo Ratliff (Left Knee Surgery) Out
- SG Brandon Roy (Back) Day-to-Day
- C Greg Oden (Knee Injury) Out
Elliot Williams (Right Knee) Out