10 Things to Know: Lakers vs. Trail Blazers (3/26/17)

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Here is what you need to know before the Lakers host the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Lakers are looking to defend Staples Center for the second time this weekend after rallying to beat Minnesota on Friday. The Timberwolves led by as many as 15 points, but the Lakers surged at the end and sent the game to overtime on a last-minute bank shot by Julius Randle, who finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Los Angeles then buried its visitors in the extra period by outscoring them 21-10.

While Randle was strong for the Lakers all game long, the night belonged to Jordan Clarkson, who erupted for a career-high 35 points. The 24-year-old was especially dangerous from deep, knocking down eight 3-pointers on only 10 attempts. This clip included a four-point play in the final minutes that brought the game back within one possession.

The Lakers will wait to see if they will have the services of Brandon Ingram, who left Friday’s game early due to right patellar tendinitis. With only a week left in March, the 19-year-old has a case for Western Conference Rookie of the Month, as he has now scored double figures in 10 straight games while averaging 14.8 points on 52.6 percent shooting.

Fans attending this game and every home contest after will now have the opportunity to see the Lakers’ tribute to one of the greatest big men in the history of the sport. Before Friday’s tilt, the team held a ceremony to reveal a bronze statue of Shaquille O’Neal, which now hangs mid-dunk off an awning outside of Staples Center.

5) O’Neal had his fair share of battles with the Trail Blazers, but the recent series has not been too competitive, as Portland has the chance to sweep the Lakers for the third straight year. Before this run of 11 straight wins, the Blazers had not swept the Lakers since 1993-94.

Breaking that skid will be a difficult task considering how well Portland is playing. The Blazers have won five of their last six games and have done so through some impressive defense. Over this stretch they are allowing only 99.2 points per game — 10.2 fewer than their average for the season.

On the other end, the Blazers have plenty of firepower beginning with Damian Lillard, who is averaging 32.8 points over his last week. The sixth-leading scorer in the NBA, Lillard is one of the league’s best at attacking the hoop. Despite averaging just the 13th-most drives in the league, he ranks third in scoring off drives (8.4), as well as third in scoring out of pick-and-rolls (10.8).

While Lillard provides pressure in the paint, C.J. McCollum lets it fly from outside. The reigning Most Improved Player racked up 32 points in Saturday’s win over Minnesota and it came through ridiculous efficiency, as he shot 11-of-13 from the field, 4-of-5 on triples and 6-of-6 on free throws. McCollum currently leads the league in made jumpers (476) while hitting the third-best percentage on such shots (45.8).

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9) Despite having a pair of marksmen in Lillard and McCollum, reserve guard Allen Crabbe might have a claim as the team’s most accurate shooter. The L.A. native and Price High alum currently ranks third in the NBA in 3-point percentage (43.8) and has hit at least one trey in 14 straight games.

Since being traded to Portland 17 games ago, Jusuf Nurkic has made himself at home by nearly averaging a double-double with the Blazers (14.3 points, 9.9 rebounds). The 7-footer has flashed a versatile skill set this year, particularly on March 9 when he went off for 28 points, 20 rebounds, eight assists and six blocks against Philadelphia.

Injury Report
Larry Nance Jr. (right wrist sprain) and Tyler Ennis (left shoulder soreness) are probable. Brandon Ingram (right patellar tendinitis) and Timofey Mozgov (left ankle sprain) are questionable.
Trail Blazers: Ed Davis (left shoulder) and Festus Ezeli (left knee) are out.

Tip-Off: 6:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes in L.A. NBA TV nationally
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW

Click here to view game notes for this contest.

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