Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Los Angeles Lakers @ Portland Trailblazers, October 31st, 2012

The Trail Blazers begin their season at home Wednesday night against a Lakers team seeking to avoid a second straight 0-2 start.

Portland went 28-38 last season, after averaging 50.7 wins over its previous three seasons when it appeared to be a team on the rise. Coach Nate McMillan was fired during last year's campaign and the roster has been overhauled along with a new general manager in Neil Olshey and new coach in Terry Stotts.

All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge, forward Nicolas Batum and guard Wesley Matthews are the mainstays with new blood brought in that includes first-round picks Damian Lillard, a point guard drafted 6th overall, and Meyers Leonard, a center drafted 11th overall.

While Portland's new faces are unproven, the same cannot be said for those with Los Angeles. With Dwight Howard and Steve Nash on board, the Lakers are among the favorites as they seek the franchise's 17th championship.

Los Angeles, however, opened with a surprising 99-91 home loss to Dallas on Tuesday, where Los Angeles missed more free throws than Dallas attempted, and neither Howard nor Nash excelled in their team debuts.

Howard had 19 points and 10 rebounds while missing 11 of 14 free throws before fouling out with 2:02 to play. Nash managed just seven points and four assists with seemingly little to do in the Lakers' new offensive scheme. Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 23 points and 13 rebounds while Kobe Bryant scored a wonderfully efficient 22 (11-14 shooting) while playing on an injured right foot. The offense was smooth last night, as it created fairly easy opportunities that the Lakers didn’t convert (especially free throws).

There are a few minor injuries on the Lakers’ side of things; Kobe Bryant is listed as day to day with his injured right foot and ankle, but he still played last night and is expected to play tonight. Backup center Jordan Hill is also listed as day to day with a bulging disk he suffered early in the preseason, he will also play. On Portland’s side, backup point guard Ronnie Price is out for tonight’s contest.
Point Guard
Steve Nash
Damian Lillard
Shooting Guard
Kobe Bryant
Wesley Matthews
Small Forward
Metta World Peace
Nicolas Batum
Power Forward
Pau Gasol
LaMarcus Aldrige
Dwight Howard
J.J. Hickson