On Tap: The Portland Trailblazers and Trade Rumors

 —  February 23, 2005

Trade rumors continue to swirl around these teams heading into tonight’s game. I have yet to see a source I trust say there is something going to happen for sure with the Lakers, although it does appear Mitch K. is working the phones hard.

One rumor getting a lot of attention is a Baron Davis to the Lakers deal, although Davis is currently on the IR and is expected to be there for a couple more weeks. I’m not going to get into this too much until I get the feeling its more than just rumors, but let me ask you this: Do you think Kobe and Baron have styles of play that will mesh?

Now on to tonight: The Lakers won the last meeting between these two, but this game will look a lot different than that one — the Lakers were without Kobe and the Trailblazers were without Darius Miles. That game was also the day the news about Rudy T. leaving became public.

The Lakers won that game because they shot 51.1% eFG% compared to Portland’s 40.3%. In the second quarter, Portland was 2-of-17 from the field, scoring just 10 points. Zach Randolph was 0-12 from the field for the game.

What points Portland did get came from its perimeter guys — Damon Stoudamire had 25, Ruben Patterson 20 and Nick Van Exel 18, which accounts for 79.7% of the Trailblazer scoring. The Lakers should be better in perimeter defense tonight with Kobe back, although Portland is still capable of putting up a lot of points from that trio plus Miles.

Offensively, Patterson will get the chance to be “Kobe stopper” again, but teams have been able to score against Portland well from the four, and just about everywhere else. Odom can have a big night, as can anyone really. Also, if the Lakers play agressive defense they can get turnovers — Portland gives up 16.8 a game, 27th in the league. The question is will the Lakers have the legs left after a win last night followed by travel up to the Northwest.

By the way, Caron is again questionable for tonight’s game, with the official reason being stomach flu. For Portland, Shareef Abdur-Rahim is still on the IR.