Lakers will beat the Blazers; insights from Columbian's Calkins
Among the highlights of my interview with the Columbian's Trail Blazers beat writer Matt Calkins on the Lakers-Portland game:
On why the Lakers will beat Portland tonight: Portland on the road is like the Bobcats anywhere else. They haven't been able to find any sort of consistency ... Until I see consistency on the road, I'll always assume that a team over .500 hosting the Blazers are going to beat them.
Why the Blazers have remained inconsistent: A lot of it stems from the point guard. People could count on Andre Miller last year. He was one of the most consistent guards in the league. He wasn't flashy, but you knew what you would get from him. ... Raymond Felton has played a different game where he will shoot. He's been under so much criticism and hasn't been effective.
On Nicolas Batum's emergence: He's been killing it, hitting his outside shot and going to the basket. He's good for a couple of dunks per game. All year long, the Blazers have been looking for that No. 2 guy behind Lamarcus Aldridge. ... Through the past four games, Batum has slid into that role. I wouldn't give him that role yet, but he's getting there.
On LaMarcus Aldridge's ankle: The ankle is doing well. When he came back against Atlanta, people wondered how he'd be moving. But he really looked to have that stride in his step. They wanted to make sure he was 100% before he was put out there. Rather than rusty, he looked well rested. He moved well and wasn't looking tired. I don't think the ankle is an issue at this point.
On Aldridge making the All-Star team: It's been a career long goal of his. You could tell in his younger days he would get excited about it. Then there would be a big letdown when he didn't make it. He's earned it and has developed his game over the years. He's turning into an elite power forward. It's really between him, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin as the best power forward in the game right now. ... He's better than Blake Griffin. I'm not sure he will be better than Blake Griffin in two years, though. I don't know that he's better than Kevin Love.
On the need for Portland to shoot well from the perimeter against the Lakers: The potential between LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum for their inside-outside game is huge. It can take off this year. We've seen Batum really hone in that outside touch. LaMarcus draws so much attention. If he gets going and has someone to complement him, Portland will be really tough to stop in the halfcourt.
-- Mark Medina
Email the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org