The 2012-2013 NBA season is just one day old, but some fans of the Los Angeles Lakers are already starting to panic.
L.A. entered their opener with extremely high expectations. After failing to make it past the second round of the playoffs for two straight years, they traded for Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in the offseason.
The favorites in the Western Conference failed to live up to the hype in their first game, falling to the Dallas Mavericks, 99-91 at Staples Center. Even without Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas won handily, leading the entire second half.
Now, the Lakers must try to win their first game of the year on the road. They’ll visit the Portland Trail Blazers at 10:30 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on NBA TV, but you can watch a live stream online by purchasing NBA League Pass Broadband.
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Kobe Bryant will be ready to play, after suffering a right foot sprain towards the end of the preseason. He managed to play in the opener, and was extremely efficient. Bryant scored 22 points on 11 of 14 shooting.
Portland begins their season, looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2011-2012 campaign. They missed the playoffs, finishing 10 games under .500.
The Trail Blazers hope their multiple first round picks can help them back to the playoffs. Damian Lillard was selected sixth overall, and has been pegged by many to be a frontrunner to win the Rookie of the Year award. The point guard could have a very successful debut, going up against one of the worst defenders in the league in Nash.
Nash had trouble on offense, as well, in Tuesday’s opener. He scored seven points and dished out just four assists, almost unheard of for the future Hall of Famer. Many have criticized Mike Brown’s Princeton offense for stifling Nash, and not allowing him to push the ball and utilize pick-and-rolls.
Howard had trouble in his Lakers debut, too. He went just 3-for-14 from the free throw line, and wasn’t his dominant self on defense. Things won’t get easier, as he and Pau Gasol will have to deal with one of the game’s best big men in LaMarcus Aldridge.
Even though Los Angeles struggled on Tuesday and is set to play on the road, the consensus Las Vegas betting odds still have them as 2.5-point favorites.
Prediction: L.A. may have the most talented starting lineup in all of basketball, but the opener proved that they still need time to gel. The Lakers still need to work on their defensive rotations, and players like Bryant, Howard and Nash have to learn to play together. The Trail Blazers are younger, and should be able to take care of an aging team that is playing on back-to-back nights.
Predicted Score: Portland 101, Los Angeles 92