The (56-23) Los Angeles Lakers are hosting the (48-31) Portland Trailblazers in a Sunday Matinee game at the Staples Center. Today’s game starts the last week of the regular season but make no mistake, the Purple and Gold are prepared to defend their Championship title.

In beating the Timberwolves on Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers earned the top spot in the Western Conference for the third straight season.

A win is a win and I’ll take it, but it was a mixed bag of both good and bad things. The bench led by Jordan Farmar’s 13 points (hitting 3-6 shots from behind the arc) scored 33 points, D.J. Mbenga scored a career-high 11 points and the team had only 12 turnovers for the game.

The Lakers have split their last two games, although the effort shows me that this team is prepared to put up a fight. I always feel that once you reach mid-March on the schedule, a team needs to play Playoff basketball and in my mind’s eye, I have some concerns about the team. However, no doubt that people have prematurely counted this team out. I also feel that several teams will pay for their transgressions.

I’m not buying all of the ‘this team won’t make it out of the first round’ talk. The haters making this statement seem to have forgotten that this team has already done all the things that the naysayers are saying that this team can’t do now. It won’t be easy, but the Lakers will repeat. Regardless of what happens in the Playoffs, the outcome will be solely based on what the Lakers are able to accomplish.

The Trailblazers have been a thorn in the Lakers side for a while. The season series is tied, considering that on February 6th the Lakers won in Portland at the Rose Garden to snap a 9-game losing streak without Kobe Bryant.

The Lakers seem to play like a more focused group without Kobe; they’re 5-2 without the Black Mamba, but make no mistake this statement is merely an observation that is valid until the end of the game. The best player in the game is rested, suited up and will return to action.

The Lakers need this game to secure home court advantage because the Trailblazers are a possible first round opponent for the Lakewrs.

The Trailblazers have lost 14 of 16 games at Staples Center, although with the importance of this game by late afternoon they will have lost 15 of 16. The Lakers need to play hard, play with a sense of urgency, play aggressive from the opening tip-off, and send a message to the Trailblazers that the Staples Center is your house of horrors.

The Lakers have to establish Pau Gasol in the painted area and run their offense through him. The Lakers’ front line has to be aggressive on both ends of the court. They need to play solid defense starting with stopping the dribble penetration of Andre Miller. They needs to do a solid job of defending the screen and roll action plays, limit Portland to one shot per possession and extend their defense out to the three point arc.

The Lakers also have to contain the Blazers two leading scorers Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. The Lakers reserves have to continue to step their game up and not allow themselves to be outscored by the Trailblazers’ reserves.

Today it is all about defense and execution.

Go Lakers!

Tip-off: 12:30 PM PST

Television

  • Los Angeles: ABC (Mike Breen, Mark Jackson & Jeff Van Gundy)
  • Portland: ABC (Mike Breen, Mark Jackson & Jeff Van Gundy)

Radio

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

Injuries

Lakers:

  • Ron Artest (Left Heel Bruise/Sprained Left Thumb)
  • Shannon Brown (Sprained Right Thumb)
  • Kobe Bryant (Avulsion Fracture, Right Index Finger)
  • Andrew Bynum (Left Achilles Strain) Out
  • Sasha Vujacic (Sprained Right Shoulder)
  • Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) is probable.

Trailblazers:

  • Greg Oden (Knee) Out for the Season
  • Joel Pryzbilla (Knee) Out for the Season
  • Marcus Camby (Hamstring) listed as Day-to-Day
  • kb24forlife

    The lakers need to improve on their weaknesses not just play hard and expect to win. Playing hard doesn't equal a win. They need to improve and focus on their FREE THROWS, 3- point shooting, pick and roll defense, and defensive rotations. If they don't improve on this, they are not going to win a championship- I put my money on that.

    • lakermarc

      KObe has probably been the MOST disappointing of them all because we all know there are injuries and problems which he always shrugs off and denies. Kobe has been very irresponsible in his shot choice this entire season and that's why his efficiency is WAY down. I'm getting tired of the barrage of futile 3 point shots from Fish, Jordan, Shannon, and Sasha. Why not attack the paint, they've almost become, dare I say it, The Orlando Magic, and that's not gonna win anything (see last year's results).

  • trippleocho

    We ain't coming out the West if we keep playing like this.

    • lakermarc

      May not get passed the 1st round.

  • lostinla

    that M.V.P. chant sure stopped quick when bryant BRICKED those free throws.PORTLAND has no fear of this laker team…………….or is it just me?

  • jaydubb415

    Hey dudes i just came in here 2 say i'm throwing the towell in on the lakers (i know alot of ya'll saying' who is this dude'..Well thats true over the last 8 or 9 games i haven't been supporting them and today just let me know what i did was warranted.This is a lack-a-daisical-team there slow reacting (lamar how long are you going 2 look-up while camby is in the air WTF) Kobe you totally let me down and fisher if your pissed about missing a free-throw show me and make a play you dont turn around and slap-n-pull somebodies hand i'm done byron scott was right this isn't the 2nd 3rd or 4th best team yes i said it and meant it .Fuck the lakers Fuck Phil thats what you drew up gasol 2 shoot the 3 WTF is this college no this is some BS thats what it is this is a team that got fat winning that championship and not fat litterly fat fat in the head.Everybody wanna be a star The Lakers Wont Make It Out Of The Fist Round, yea i said it and meant it i don't care if they play the blazers,spurs,or oklahoma.Now it just depends who there playing if its the blazers i can see them losing 4 games to 2 if its the spurs it could 4 to 3 games oklahoma i can see them losing 4 to 3 spurs because there old thats why it would go to 7th game oklahoma because there young so that would stretch 2 the 7th game,now portland is 4 game 2 because there not intimadated at all they kill the lakers at home and now there beating them at there house with out there star roy.So its cool but i won't waist yes waist my time even though i can't get that 2/12 3hrs back but i got baseball GO GIANTS GO YANKEES,yes i cheer 4 both born and raised in frisco ca but loved my trip to NY Stadium been official fan since then if they play in the WS i got 2 roll wit frisco thats my city love my city period.But back 2 the sorry ass lakers i'm done its been nice chatting up with ya'll'''' unless a fucking miracle happens `wich i doubt im over and out''''.

    • lostinla

      they only play hard the last few minutes when its make or break…this sunday and the last few games its been pathetic………………….go giants!

      • lakermarc

        Has anyone noticed just how many of the Lakers games this year were super close and nail biters, lots of the games came down to final shots and over times. Nothing like last year. BRING TREVOR BACK!!!!

    • j.dizzle

      LOL then dont comment anymore you bandwagon fan..Its comments like this that makes a lot of ppl hate Laker fans..Sure, Lakers arent playing to their potential but things will look a lot different when Bynum comes back & Odom jumps back on the bench. Do you remember the celtics from 2 years ago?? They went 7 games in a few series & looked extremely beatable..Then the finals came & they spanked LA.

      • preach

        2nd that!!!

      • lakermarc

        I agree with you abouth the Douchebag but alot of what he does say has some truth in it. Bandwagon fan..I'm sure of it….but false statements? not likely. Last year I remember that The Lakers were able to pick up the slack when ANYONE was out and this year that was true, initially… but no longer the case. They will not pick it up that much because their play sucked even b4 Bynum went down (3rd annual Andrew Bynum injury prior to The Playoffs…are we sure this isn't on purpose???? just joking..but its pathetic).

        I have been saying for over 3 months on this site that the Lakers were playing like SHIT and everyone kept saying, they'll pick it up they'll pick it up…I don't think so. The switch isn't working.

      • j.dizzle

        Im starting to think the fans shouldnt be taking the games seriously until the actual team start taking them seriously again..For example, I saw half the team laughing after they lost today haha even Kobe..They just dont got that hunger or passion like last year..All I can say is that we'll see how they play in the 1st round & go from there..A midget Rockets team did take them to seven games last year so we'll see what happens..I would just rest players like LO & Gasol for the week..They're starting to look tired & LA is gonna need big contributions from them if Kobe keeps shooting poorly because of the 2 feet of wrap on his finger haha

  • lakermarc

    The problem with the Lakers was that they never really got back into it after the championship, although the first 3 months looked really sharp, the cracks in the armour began to show around Christmas time. It's really weird because if youu really look at this objectively, The Lakers are suffering the same Bullshit that affec ted The Celtics last year,…..the year after they won an NBA Championship.

  • lakerjohnny

    TO ALL LAKER FAN MAD AND UPSET AND GIVING UP ON THE LAKE SHOW…..GO SUCK A D.I.C.K, WATCH WHEN WE WIN IT ALL, WHERE WILL YOU BE? SUCKING D.I.C.K. THATS RIGHT. THESE ARE THE PHUKING LAKERS WERE TALKING ABOUT HERE, SECOND BEST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE! SO STFU AND ENJOY THE STRESS BECAUSE WHEN PLAYOFFS COME, LAKERS RARELY DISAPOINT, SOMETIMES, BUT RARELY. GO LAKERS AND PHUK U BANDWAGON LAMES.