The Lakers are off to one of the best starts in franchise history with a Western Conference-best 19-3 record through their first 22 contests. Meanwhile, Portland has also been trending up as of late and the Trail Blazers suddenly find themselves in the No. 9 spot in the West after winning four of their last five games. Can Portland pull off an upset at home against the mighty Lakers on Friday?
Rondo showing value with LakersAnthony Davis scored 26 points to help the Lakers cruise to a 121-96 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night. LeBron James scored points and handed out 12 assists for the Lakers, who were up 18 points at halftime. Rajon Rondo had 14 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds off of the bench, while Kyle Kuzma chipped in 13 points as part of a Lakers’ bench that scored 47 points in the blowout win.
When the Lakers brought back Rondo in the offseason, most people questioned his fit next to James and Davis, who Rondo played with previously in New Orleans. Rondo’s play on defense last year didn’t help matters either. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Lakers had a -8.1 efficiency differential with the veteran point guard on the floor. He ranked last on the team and No. 436 of 514 qualified players with a defensive rating of 113.3 last season.
However, he’s shifted the narrative this year, thriving on the floor next to James, who praised Rondo after the team’s win against the Jazz. Rondo and James have a +16.3 net rating in 147 minutes on the floor together this season. Perhaps even more remarkably, Rondo has shot 50 percent from 3-point range on 34 attempts while averaging 8.8 points and 6.1 assists in 21.5 minutes per game this season.
Anthony, Bazemore giving Blazers a boostPortland bounced back with its fourth win in five games on Wednesday, knocking off the Sacramento Kings 127-116. CJ McCollum scored 33 points on 14-of-22 shooting while Hassan Whiteside had a throwback performance with 22 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, and three blocks to propel Portland to victory. Damian Lillard finished with 24 points and 10 assists and Carmelo Anthony added 20 points with a +15 net rating in the win.
Listen to Carmelo Anthony😂— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 22, 2019
And he hits the three! pic.twitter.com/b5MUyDT79N
Maybe the Carmelo Anthony experiment isn’t going to be a complete failure in Portland after all. According to ESPN, the Trail Blazers have amended Anthony’s contract so that it becomes fully guaranteed for the remainder of the season. Anthony, 35, signed a non-guaranteed deal last month and was recently named Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging 22.7 points and 7.7 rebounds while helping the Blazers go 3-0. Head coach Terry Stotts even went as far as calling Anthony “a breath of fresh air” for the Blazers, who are showing signs of turning things around following a disastrous start.
Swingman Kent Bazemore has also been a welcome addition for the Blazers, giving them some defensive versatility off of the bench. His value was on full display against the Kings, as he scored 15 points off the bench to give the second unit a boost. Bazemore has shot 35.5 percent from 3-point range while averaging nearly one block and one steal per game in just 22.3 minutes per contest.
- Lakers are 4-11 ATS in their last 15 games as a road favorite.
- Lakers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following an ATS win.
- Lakers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight-up win of more than 10 points.
- Trail Blazers are 7-2-2 ATS in their last 11 games as a home underdog.
- Trail Blazers are 7-2-2 ATS in their last 11 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of greater than .600.
- Trail Blazers are 5-1-2 ATS in their last 8 games as a home underdog of 0.5-4.5.