Lakers Now

Preview: Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers

The Lakers (9-8) return home from a three-game trip to host the Portland Trail Blazers (13-3) on Sunday night at Staples Center.

The Blazers have been one of the best teams in the NBA through the first month of the season, already with seven wins in nine road games.

Portland is a very different team than the Lakers, relying heavily on the offensive production of four players (LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum) -- each scoring at least 14.1 points a night.

The Lakers have nine scorers averaging between 8.1 and 14.8 points a game.

Key matchup

LaMarcus Aldridge is among the top power forwards in the league.  At 22.1 points and 9.6 rebounds a game, Aldridge is a very difficult player to contain.

Pau Gasol, with his length, may get first crack at Aldridge. Jordan Hill is another option, with his athleticism and hard-nosed play.

If neither has much luck, Shawne Williams might be a smaller but quicker option off the bench.

Offensively, Gasol needs to attack the Blazers, both as a scorer and playmaker.

X-factor

The Lakers will have their hands full with Lillard and Aldridge, but Matthews has shot the ball extremely well this season.

Pay too much attention to the Blazers' stars and Matthews gets an open look. So far this season he's shot 50.5% from three-point range while averaging 16.7 points.

Players like Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Steve Blake and Wesley Johnson need to always know where Matthews is on the floor.

Offensively, the Lakers seem to get scoring from a different player each night but recently Jordan Farmar has been a tremendous spark off the bench.

Farmar will likely match up with the Blazers' top scoring reserve in Mo Williams. While Farmar is averaging 9.7 points and 4.6 assists a game this season, Williams has provided a similar boost for the Blazers by averaging 9.1 points and 4.8 assists.

Outlook

The first game at home after a road trip tends to be difficult. The Blazers are a very tough opponent.

The Lakers have a chance to win their sixth game in seven tries, but against Portland they could likely fall short.

Portland doesn't have much depth but their starters, along with Williams, have proven to be a formidable unit so far this season.

A loss would drop the Lakers once again to .500.

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Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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