Lakers return home vs. Blazers looking to build momentum

Lakers return home vs. Blazers
Image: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

After a rough start to the season, the Los Angeles Lakers are feeling better about their circumstances as they head back home to play the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday. They have a strategy to lean into for the road ahead.

The Lakers defeated the Phoenix Suns 122-119 on the road on Friday, and it only took a laser-like fourth quarter to send them home with hope for the first time in almost a week.

Concerned about poor first quarters and injuries that have forced temporary rotations in the early going, Los Angeles dropped its opening three games of a four-game road trip.

Friday’s lineup for the Lakers was nearly complete, despite the fact that Jarred Vanderbilt (heel) has yet to play this season. After missing four games due to a concussion, Rui Hachimura is back, and Anthony Davis returned to action on Friday following his absence from the team’s loss to Houston on Wednesday due to a painful hip. Davis is expected to play on Sunday. Jaxson Hayes, who missed two games due to an ankle injury, returned on Friday.

Los Angeles head coach Darvin Ham placed bigger player Cam Reddish in the starting lineup and moved guard Austin Reaves to a reserve position in an effort to solve the team’s sluggish starts. Reddish scored 17 points, including a game-winning 3-pointer with 1:10 left, while Reaves added 15 points, as both players contributed.

Even though the Lakers trailed 34-25 after one quarter, their best player, LeBron James, had 32 points and 11 rebounds against the Suns. “It was good to just finally get over the hump at this early stage of the season,” James said. We’ve struggled to take the lead in many of our games and have frequently been playing from behind. It was a pleasant sensation.

James also had a near-accident on Friday when, in the first quarter, he left the court due to left shin soreness, only to return in the second. His left calf contusion makes him doubtful for Sunday’s match.

Following the departure of Damian Lillard, the Trail Blazers have had mixed fortunes. They dropped their opening three games before winning their next three. They have already dropped their previous two games, but on Wednesday they forced the Sacramento Kings into overtime on the road before falling short 121-118.

With 22.8 points per game, Jerami Grant leads the Blazers. Against the Kings, he scored a season-high 38 points. Deandre Ayton, a recent addition, leads the club in rebounds with 12.9 in addition to 11.4 points. 19.9 points are scored per game by Shaedon Sharpe.

The Blazers are attempting to get over their early injury problems. Rookie Scoot Henderson (ankle) may be out until Thanksgiving, while guard Anfernee Simons (thumb) is out until the next month. Following an injury on Wednesday, Malcolm Brogdon (hamstring) is questionable, while Robert Williams III (knee) will miss the entire season.

From 13 points in the season opener to 38 points on 12-of-25 shooting against the Kings in the first eight games, Grant has been increasing his output per game.

Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups called Wednesday’s performance a triumph under the circumstances.

Billups remarked, “I’m just proud of us; we did all we could,” It was left unattended. Malcolm fell, and it clearly caused us pain. We gave a lot of individuals a lot of minutes to play that they weren’t used to, but we didn’t give up. We had opportunities.

Credits: Reuters

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