Lakers at Trail Blazers: 3 Things to Know (11/2/17)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers face the Trail Blazers on national TV.
1) The Lakers’ are sporting an eight-pronged attack
No player has yet emerged as the Lakers’ go-to scorer, but eight of them — almost the entire rotation — are averaging double-digit points per game.
This balanced offense was at its best in Tuesday’s win over Detroit, as seven Lakers hit the double-figure mark on a night when L.A. routed its visitors by 20.
The Pistons were unable to run with the Lakers’ pace-pushing offense, led by Lonzo Ball (13 points, three assists) and Brandon Ingram (13 points, six assists), who each made plays for themselves and teammates on a night when L.A. piled up a season-best 30 dimes.
2) The Lakers are getting firepower form power forwards
No part of the Lakers’ roster has been as versatile or successful as the four spot, as Larry Nance Jr., Julius Randle and Kyle Kuzma have all taken turns making their opponents miserable.
Randle — who is essentially the second-unit center — has been too quick for opposing bigs to keep him out of the paint, and too strong for them to stop him once he gets there. Nance has hustled in transition and out of pick-and-rolls to pick up four double-doubles in seven games.
Both rank among the NBA’s top 10 in field goal percentage, with Randle clocking in at fifth (63.3) and Nance at seventh (60.4). With these two leading the way, it’s easy to understand how the Lakers are scoring a league-best 55.1 points in the paint.
Kuzma — who is shooting a ridiculous (especially for a rookie) 63.8 percent on two-pointers — has contributed there as well, both directly and indirectly.
His straight-line drives and weak-side cuts make for consistent buckets at the rim. But he also frees up the paint for others by spacing the floor with his hot 3-point shooting, as shown when Detroit couldn’t afford to clog the paint while Kuzma was busy hitting all four of his attempts from deep.
3) Lillard’s burning up, but wins haven’t followed
The obvious task against Portland will be cooling off Damian Lillard, who is averaging 29.8 points over his last four games — which is second-best in the league over that stretch.
While Lillard can hit 3’s, draw fouls and play out of pick-and-rolls as well as anyone in the NBA, his team has won just one game during the aforementioned span.
The Blazers haul down the league’s second-most rebounds, both in total (50.1) and on the offensive glass (12.8). But the Lakers may be able to use that commitment to offensive rebounds against Portland.
Offensive rebounding can often hurt a team’s transition defense since it requires players to hunt boards instead of immediately getting back to the other end.
The Lakers, who love to push the pace as fast as possible, will likely try to exploit this — especially against a Portland team that probably has heavy legs from playing an overtime game in Utah the night before.
Trail Blazers: Al-Farouq Aminu (right ankle sprain) is day-to-day. Meyers Leonard (right ankle sprain), Wade Baldwin IV (right thumb surgery) and C.J. Wilcox (right knee surgery) are out.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Location: Moda Center — Portland, Oregon