Trail Blazers Vs. Lakers Preview

December 1st, 2013
by Casey Holdahl
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The Portland Trail Blazers had their double-digit streak halted the last time they took the floor. Now they'd like to end one at Staples Center.

Portland looks to avoid an 11th consecutive loss there Sunday night against the Los Angeles Lakers in its return to the court after having an 11-game win streak snapped.

The Trail Blazers (13-3) fell to Phoenix 120-106 on Wednesday, their first loss in nearly three weeks. It was their longest winning streak since rolling off 13 straight in December 2007.

"That's something special in the NBA to win that many games in a row," said LaMarcus Aldridge, who had 24 points. "We're definitely proud of it but we have to bounce back and not lose two in a row. We've talked about that and it was fun and all but now it's time to go to L.A. and just bounce back."

That might be tough considering Portland has lost six straight road games against the Lakers, and 10 in a row at Los Angeles dating to a win over the Clippers on Oct. 27, 2010. Then again, Kobe Bryant has played in every game during Portland's road skid versus the Lakers, and he remains out while recovering from surgery for a torn Achilles tendon.

Los Angeles (9-8) has played well lately without him, winning five of six, and has won five of the past six meetings with the Blazers as well as 11 of 12 at Staples Center.

Damian Lillard had a career-high 38 points in the teams' last matchup, but Portland lost 113-106 at home April 10.

Lillard is a big reason the Blazers are off to a hot start overall and from 3-point range. Wesley Matthews and Lillard rank among the league's top five in 3s made with 47 and 44, respectively, and Portland is at 41.5 percent from beyond the arc to rank third in the NBA. Matthews is hitting 50.5 percent, Lillard is at 39.6 and Nicolas Batum 40.9, tying his career best.

Matthews, though, was held to eight points Wednesday - about half his season average - and Batum was 1 of 6 from 3-point range as the Blazers finished 7 for 19.

"It's not far-reaching to think that each one of those guys could shoot 40 percent or better on the season," coach Terry Stotts said of his 3-point shooters. "So is 42 percent sustainable? I think it is."

The Lakers also like to launch it from long range, making a league-high 181 3s.

The two teams are not so alike defensively, as the Trail Blazers have been tougher to both score and rebound against this season. Los Angeles allows 102.3 points and 47.0 rebounds per game, compared to 99.0 and 42.4 by Portland.

In their last game, the Lakers rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and won 106-102 in Detroit on Friday night.

Wesley Johnson led six Lakers in double figures with a season-high 27 points. Shawne Williams added 20 while fellow reserves Jordan Farmar scored 13 and Nick Young had 12 for a Lakers bench which averages 47.0 points, most in the league.

"We got some defensive stops down the stretch and everybody played a key role in this win," said Farmar, averaging 16.7 points in the last three games. "That's what team basketball is all about."

The Lakers have won three straight at home.

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