NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, April 8th (All times eastern)
Los Angeles Lakers (55-23) at Portland Trail Blazers (46-33), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers will attempt to halt their first losing streak since the All-Star break when they visit playoff-bound Portland this evening.
The Lakers lost their third consecutive game on Wednesday and fell to 17-4 since the break when Monta Ellis scored 26 points and David Lee posted 22 points and 17 rebounds, as the Golden State Warriors picked up a rare win over Los Angeles, 95-87.
The outcome, coupled with the Spurs' win over Sacramento, clinched the top seed in the Western Conference for San Antonio.
The Lakers, who were led by Kobe Bryant's 25 points, had won 12 in a row against the Warriors, but the trio of Ellis, Lee and Stephen Curry (20 points) sent LA to the third straight loss.
"They played better than we did," Bryant said bluntly. "We missed a lot of shots tonight."
Andrew Bynum recorded 13 points and 17 boards, while Pau Gasol had 18 and seven in defeat for the Lakers, who still have a two-game edge over Dallas for the second spot in the West.
Portland, meanwhile, won for the third time in four games on Thursday when Gerald Wallace scored 29 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead a balanced attack as the Trail Blazers beat the stumbling Utah Jazz, 98-87, in Salt Lake City.
Nicolas Batum added 21 points and Wesley Matthews totaled 18 for the Blazers, who rebounded from Tuesday's loss to Golden State and are battling for playoff seeding. Portland currently sits in sixth place in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of New Orleans.
"I thought tonight our guys came out and played," Blazers head coach Nate McMillan said. "You know, we got a little sloppy there for a minute but made some plays. I thought Nick [Batum] brought some offense, [LaMarcus Aldridge] established himself in the paint, and Brandon [Roy] gave us some scoring in that first half."
The Lakers have won all three of their meetings with the Blazers so far this season and will be attempting to sweep Portland in the season series for the first time since the 1988-89 season.
LA is just 4-15 in the past 19 contests in Rip City.
04/08 11:04:55 ET