Wednesday, December 6, 2023
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NBA Preview: Los Angeles Lakers (6-6) at Portland Trail Blazers (3-8)

The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers earlier this week without LeBron James.

Five nights later, James is expected to be in the lineup when the Lakers visit the Trail Blazers in the NBA in-season tournament matchup.

James sat out against Portland due to his left calf injury but is listed as questionable for the rematch. The Lakers won 116-100 as Anthony Davis recorded 30 points and 13 rebounds.

In between, James played a back-to-back set on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings, respectively. He was stellar in defeat against the visiting Kings, recording 28 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for his 108th career triple-double.

The triple-double snapped a tie with Jason Kidd and moved James into fifth place in NBA history.

The health of Davis (hip, adductor) is often a problem but he is listed as probable for Friday’s game.

Davis struggled with just nine points on 3-of-9 shooting and committed five turnovers in the 125-110 loss to Sacramento but didn’t want to blame it on his ailments. He also had nine rebounds and four blocked shots.

D’Angelo Russell scored 28 points against Sacramento. Los Angeles had won three straight games before the loss to the Kings.

The Lakers are 2-0 in West Group A action of the in-season tournament and are tied for first with the Utah Jazz (2-0).

Portland is in third place of the five-team group with a 1-1 record.

The Trail Blazers have struggled offensively after the offseason trade of star guard Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Portland entered Thursday ranked last in the league in scoring at 104.7 points per game and has failed to reach 100 points in five of 11 games.

The Trail Blazers were expecting guard Anfernee Simons — who averaged a career-high 21.1 points last season — to be the main scorer but he tore a ligament in his right thumb in the season opener and isn’t expected back until sometime next month.

Rookie guard Scoot Henderson injured his right ankle in his fifth career game and also remains weeks away from returning.

Veteran guard Malcolm Brogdon (hamstring) also is ailing and will sit out his fourth straight game.

The absences were evident during Wednesday’s 109-95 home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers as Portland made just 37.4 percent of their field-goal attempts and were 13 of 38 from behind the arc.

Jerami Grant scored a team-high 17 points against the Cavaliers.

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