NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, January 5th (All times eastern)
Los Angeles Lakers (4-3) at Portland Trail Blazers (4-1), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Rasheed Wallace, Damon Stoudamire, Scottie Pippen and Steve Smith were running the floor the last time the Portland Trail Blazers began a season with five wins over their first six games.
That was back in 1999-00 and the current Blazers are aiming to match that start tonight, but will have to beat Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers at the Rose Garden in order to pull it off. It could be an arduous task for Portland, which has an advantage with an unblemished mark at home (3-0).
The Blazers, who opened the 1999-00 campaign with a 10-1 mark, recently handed the Oklahoma City Thunder a 103-93 setback on the road Tuesday night. LaMarcus Aldridge scored a game-high 30 points and Wesley Matthews added 16 in Portland's fourth win in five attempts this season. Gerald Wallace had 13 points and 10 rebounds for Portland, which is the only team in the Western Conference with one loss.
"We played with an attitude tonight," Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan told the team's site. "Defensively, we did a better job establishing ourselves early. Offensively, good execution. We had some matchups that we wanted to try and go at and I thought we executed that well. Down the stretch we did better with our execution."
Nicolas Batum finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. The Blazers will play four of their next five games in the Rose City and will make a quick stop in Phoenix on Friday before a three-game homestand versus the Cavaliers, Clippers and Magic.
Los Angeles is trying to avoid dropping its first three road games since losing four straight road tests to kick off the 1995-96 campaign, just before Bryant was drafted.
The Lakers have won four of five games since starting the year 0-2 and recorded a 108-99 victory versus the Houston Rockets on Tuesday at Staples Center. Bryant poured in a season-high 37 points to go with eight rebounds and six assists, while Andrew Bynum finished with 21 points and 22 rebounds for his first career 20-20 game.
"Andrew is a a double-double guy," Lakers head coach Mike Brown said. "He's capable of getting big numbers like he did tonight. Defensively, we have to play for 48 minutes. Tonight we didn't do that, but we played long enough to get the win."
Pau Gasol netted 14 points and grabbed eight boards in a winning cause.
After visiting the Blazers, Los Angeles will head back to Hollywood for a three-game homestand versus Golden State, Memphis and Phoenix.
The Lakers took three of four meetings with Portland a season ago, but have lost 16 of their last 20 trips to the Rose Garden.
01/05 10:37:40 ET