Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trailblazers Preview

Jayne Kamin-Oncea – USA TODAY Sports

Sunday night will put the Los Angeles Lakers to the test once again against the much-improved 13-3 Portland Trailblazers. Can the Lakers rise to the challenge?

Still without Kobe Bryant, who may return as early as Friday, the Lakers will look to once again rely on Pau Gasol to lead this team to another victory. After a rough few games to begin the season, the Spaniard has really turned on his game, averaging nearly 17 points and 10 rebounds a night.

Add the stellar play of the Lakers’ bench, led by Jordan Farmar and Nick Young, and the Lakers have managed to achieve a winning record through 17 games at 9-8 and would like to stay above .500 after tonight’s game. Lakers forward Wes Johnson is also coming off his best game of the year as he exploded for 27 points, and he will look to ride that momentum into this evening at Staples Center.

Yet, the Trailblazers are not going to go down easy.

Portland has only lost three games so far this season as superstars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard led them to victory after victory. That said, Lakers have already proven their ability to notch wins over tough opponents this year as all three Western Conference front-runners — the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers — have fallen to this Lakers squad.

It’s no secret that the Lakers are banged up as Steve Nash still isn’t practicing and the entire frontcourt is suffering from various minor strains and bruises. But, tonight is a big night and they will rise to the occasion. The next game is five days away, which offers plenty of rest, and this squad is about to get their Mamba back. It’s going to be a big night in Hollywood.

Be sure to follow Ian Meredith on Twitter @Cui2iousGeoi2ge

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