New ESPN KBros Lakers Podkast and a Lakers-Blazers preview roundup

Some listening pleasure before tonight's brouhaha in the rainy Northwest. Brian and I begin with a large chunk of time off the grid, discussing what the Commodores' sound with Phil Jackson as lead singer, plugging AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com, and dissecting Sean Connery's surprisingly unimpressive filmography. Then some roundball...

-(12:12 mark, because as I said, a decent chunk of time off the grid): We talk about the Lakers' recent malaise, a run of unimpressive games with the blowout victory over Dallas the "blip in an otherwise steady downward trajectory." Is the issue recent injuries and subsequent rotational scrambles? The absence of Pau Gasol? Luke Walton not there to up the ball movement? The bench? The starters? Seriously, what gives?

-(21:00 mark): A look at tonight's game against Portland, where the Lakers have snakebit since 2005. But the Blazers have injury issues that are absurd. Does something need to give?

-(21:46 mark): We discuss the mess that is Gilbert Arenas, Javaris Crittenton, guns, common sense and the timing of suspensions. I wrote more about it this afternoon, comparing how differently Arenas and Kobe Bryant circa 2003-2004 handled their respective issues.

As mentioned, there's a game tonight. In scanning the blogosphere previews, a common theme emerges: Blazer folks thinking their team is too depleted to keep the streak alive and Lakers peeps unable to dare think otherwise. Funny how that goes. Those looking for a trip down the Lakers' "Bad Memory Lane" in Portland, ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin has your back. As for the opinions bandied about...

Rip City Project highlights the need for a fast start, paint protection and, well, perhaps a little luck, since the Lakers' "struggles" are a relative 911 to the rest of the league:

    Also on Portland’s side: the Lakers come into tonight struggling. And by struggling I mean the Laker kind of struggling, not the real kind of struggling. Yes they are two different things, but ill take a Laker team ’struggling’. I mean they’ve only won 10 of their last 13, lord knows they have an ugly win (Houston) and lose (at the Clippers) and all of a sudden they are struggling.

Over at the always sharp Forum Blue and Gold, guest scribe Darius mentions a matchup I also find intriguing and potentially entertaining. Jordan Farmar and/or Shannon Brown against the quick and quickly improving Jerryd Bayless:

    Another player to watch is Jerryd Bayless. He is the exact type of player that gives the Lakers problems and he’s getting more burn this year as the Blazers have cleared out some of the players that created a clogged backcourt while also recognizing that this kid can play. Plus, as Bayless himself mentioned a couple of weeks ago, he really is a good compliment to Roy as he’s more of a SG in a PG’s body just like Roy is a ball dominating SG that loves to set up his teammates. Bayless compared himself to Mo Williams with Roy playing the Lebron role and that isn’t too far from being the truth (though Bayless is not yet at Williams overall level). It will be interesting if Phil goes with a Farmar/Bayless matchup or if he thinks that Brown’s bigger body can keep Jerryd out of the lane better while using size to contest his jumper.

Dexter Fishmore from Silver Screen and Roll correctly notes how with Portland down to just LaMarcus Aldridge, Juwan Howard (playing commendably well under skeleton crew circumstances), and rook Jeff Pendergraph in terms of anything representing "size," it's Andrew Bynum's "time to shine."

    The Laker offense, even shorn of Gasol, should have a fairly easy time of it tonight. (I italicize should only because let's face it, we never know which Laker offense is going to show up.) The Blazers are middle of the pack in defensive efficiency, and that ranking benefits from the second-best "free throw defense" in the league. It also includes 21 games of Oden and 30 of Przybilla. Without those two guys, the only Blazer who goes above 6'9" is Aldridge, hardly anyone's idea of an inside enforcer. Over Portland's past five games, a number of opposing bigs have put up big numbers. Bynum needs to demolish this undersized front line.

I gotta second Mr. Fishmore on that one. The Blazer bigs are going to have be very careful about how they defend, lest they end up with Martell Webster checking Bynum, Lamar Odom or Ron Artest. Either that, or they are gonna end up with Webster checking Bynum, Lamar Odom or Ron Artest. In any event, that interior needs to be attacked hard and constantly. There's never any excuses for possessions that go without touches inside (preferably at the start), but in a game like tonight's, there's truly no excuse. Use your heads, boys.