Los Angeles Lakers at Portland Trail Blazers
Tip off: 10:30 PM EST
Spread: LAL -2.5
M/L: LAL -140, POR +120
Betting Odds from Bookmaker
The L.A. Lakers got the season off on the wrong foot last night with a loss to the Dallas Mavericks without Dirk Nowitzki. They’ll try to get their first win tonight, playing the second night of a back-to-back in Portland against LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Portland has a chance to be a threat despite the fact that they are rebuilding. Damian Lillard is being heralded as a franchise talent, and many feel that if the Draft were done over, he would go as the No. 2 overall pick today.
Lillard impressed during the preseason and will pair nicely with Aldridge and small forward Nicolas Batum.
Batum was heavily courted by the Minnesota Timberwolves, who signed him to an offer sheet that the Blazers matched. His development is the key to Portland being more than a lottery team this year. Most aren’t giving them a chance to be much more.
The Lakers are going to look to establish some continuity in their offense and begin to develop an identity. Steve Nash struggled badly in his first game as a Laker, recording only four assists in 34 minutes and missing six of his nine field goal attempts.
“It’s growing pains, and it’s a struggle,” Steve Nash commented. “We’re out of sync and we’re going to probably have some more moments in games like that.”
Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard both had big games, combining for 42 points and 23 rebounds. Gasol also had six assists, and figures to be a fixture in the high post for the Lakers this year, as they establish a new identity around Mike Brown’s offensive philosophies.
Bryant knows the bar is set high for the Lakers. “We have a lot of expectations this season. We’re trying to live up to the expectations, we’re trying to bring another championship back where it belongs, back to Los Angeles.”
For the Lakers to meet those expectations, Bryant is going to have to surrender some of his offensive role to Steve Nash, because the future hall of fame point guard needs the ball in his hands to thrive.
Brown should be able to get the most out of Dwight Howard defensively, as a coach who is heralded for his defensive prowess. Howard will cover the blunders of a slow-footed Nash, and strengthen the Lakers defense into one of the best in the league. Last night, that notion never carried through, as six Mavericks players reached double figures.
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