After suffering consecutive losses for the first time this season, the Portland Trail Blazers (4-4) look to get back on the winning side by hosting the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night in a nationally-televised game at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Thursday night’s game will be a quick turnaround for a Trail Blazers team coming off a 112-103 overtime loss to the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City Wednesday night. Portland led by six points with less than four minutes to play, but late-game turnovers, which have been an issue for the Trail Blazers through eight games, and back-to-back three-pointers by the Jazz resulted in another disappointing loss.
“That was a hard fought game,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “I think Utah made more plays than we did at the end which is why they won the game. You know when you have a six-point lead or whatever we had with two or three minutes to go you got to make the plays that hold the lead and come out with the win, and we did not do that.”
As for the Lakers (3-4), a team that will already be in Portland by time the Trail Blazers arrive from Salt Lake City early Thursday morning, they enter Thursday’s contest having most recently bested the Detroit Pistons 113-93 Halloween Night at Staples Center. Severn Lakers finished the victory in double figures led by Julius Randle who finished with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting, seven rebounds and three assists in 17 minutes.
“He has just been playing with great energy,” said Lakers head coach Luke Walton. ”He can change games and he did tonight with the way he came in.”
Though the Lakers are coming off a win, there’s probably no team the Trail Blazers would rather see when they’re in need of a win, even on the second night of a back-to-back. The reason? Portland has beaten the Lakers in their last 12 meetings, a winning streak dating back to March of 2014. Damian Lillard has been particularly effective versus the Lakers, with the 6-3 guard out of Weber State scoring at least 20 points in his last eight games versus Los Angeles.
It’s possible that Portland could be down a starter in Thursday night’s game, with forward Al-Farouq Aminu leaving Wednesday’s loss to the Jazz late in the fourth quarter due to a sprained right ankle. X-rays on the ankle came back negative, though he did leave the locker room Wednesday night in a walking boot and with a severe limp.
If Aminu is unavailable, it’s possible Stotts will look to Noah Vonleh, who saw his first action of the 2017-18 season Wednesday night after missing most of training camp, all of preseason and the first seven games of the regular season with a shoulder injury. Vonleh, now in his fourth season out of Indiana, started 41 games at power forward last season.
Thursday night’s nationally-televised game can be seen on TNT with Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and David Aldridge on the call. Scott Lynn and Michael Holton will have the call on Rip City Radio 620 AM and on all of the stations of the Trail Blazers Radio Network.