On the night when last the Lakers defeated the Portland TrailBlazers up in Portland, Tierre Brown was L.A.'s second leading scorer. That should give a hint as to how long it's been since the purple and gold last tasted victory in the verdant expanses of the great northwest. The actual date- Feb. 23, 2005- should give an even bigger hint.
The Lakers have lost eight straight visiting Portland since that Dear Diary day. Whether it was something they said or something they did, their play hasn't come out right. Yes, it's fair to say for the Lakers (wait for it...) this Rose (Garden) has been filled with thorns. (Sigh...)
Friday night, though, the Lakers have a great chance to reverse the trend (7 pm PT, KCAL). On paper, the Blazers roster presents all sorts of matchup problems for the Lakers, except for practical purposes paper is currently the only place Portland's roster still exists. They've been ravaged by injuries, and while Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge should play despite nagging ailments, Portland won't have Steve Blake, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez, Travis Outlaw, Greg Oden, and Joel Przybilla, the latter two leaving them seriously short on frontcourt depth, something that worries the fine folks at Blazersedge. Moreover, they'll likely add another to DNP list tonight- The Oregonian reports Andre Miller is "questionable, if not doubtful" with a sore back. (Not that it kept the notoriously surly PG from shouting at coach Nate McMillan for a half hour at practice Thursday afternoon...)
The Lakers, as expected, won't have Pau Gasol in the lineup, but Phil Jackson expressed hope his PF/C might return as soon as next week, perhaps even Sunday against Milwaukee if things break just right. Even without El Spaniard, the Lakers still have an advantage in depth (though their team's shorthanded status should have Portland's rabid, Laker-hating fans doing their best sixth man act). All told, this probably constitutes L.A.'s best chance to break the streak as any they'll ever find. So will it happen?
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