The Portland Trail Blazers will try to maintain their recent mastery of the Los Angeles Lakers in the opener of their six-game homestand on Thursday. The Trail Blazers have won 12 straight meetings between the rivals since the Lakers’ last triumph in March 2014, including four last season by an average of 13.3 points.
Los Angeles enters this one on a good note after routing Detroit - which had just knocked off Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers - by 20 points on Tuesday. Rookie Lonzo Ball was one of seven Lakers to score in double figures and chipped in six rebounds, three assists and two blocks without a turnover in a stat line that did not show his true value. “Take away the Phoenix game, this is the best game he’s played, I thought,” Los Angeles coach Luke Walton told reporters of Ball, who scored 29 points against the Suns earlier in the season. “The way that his pace was, the way he pushed the ball all the time. He was in the other team’s paint. He just set the tone, and I thought the whole team fed off the way he was playing.” Portland will have to muster up some energy after it dropped a 112-103 overtime decision at Utah on Wednesday.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE LAKERS (3-4): Julius Randle led the way against the Pistons with 17 points in just 17 minutes off the bench while fellow reserve Kyle Kuzma nailed all four of his 3-point attempts en route to 16 points in 20 minutes. Both rank in the top five in scoring on a team that has eight players averaging between 10.4-14.7 points. “This is the way we want to play,” forward Brandon Ingram told reporters after scoring 13 points as part of Tuesday’s balanced attack. “This is kind of the identity we want to bring every single game.”
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (4-4): Damian Lillard has had limited support during Portland’s two-game skid, scoring 69 of the team’s 186 points - or more than 37 percent of its outcome. Only one other player reached double figures in Monday’s 99-85 loss to Toronto and two - Jusuf Nurkic (19 points) and C.J. McCollum (16) - got to that point in Wednesday’s defeat. The Blazers have scored a total of 25 points in the second quarter during their two-game slump.
1. Lillard has scored at least 20 points in eight straight games against the Lakers.
2. Lakers C Brook Lopez, who has shot over 49 percent in eight of his nine seasons, is at 38.2 percent after a 3-for-9 effort against Detroit.
3. McCollum went 2-for-8 from 3-point range at Utah after going 16-for-28 over his first six games this season.
PREDICTION: Lakers 108, Trail Blazers 105