PORTLAND, Ore. -- Damian Lillard has missed five games with a sprained ankle, and the Trail Blazers went 2-3 in those with an offense that fell 5.3 points per 100 off its season average. C.J. McCollum had some monster nights, but they need both guys at the head of the attack.
The Blazers will get that back Thursday night when the Lakers come to town for a nationally televised game.
L.A. Lakers (13-25) at Portland Trail Blazers (15-22)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
TV: TNT, CSNNW
Radio: 620 AM
Damian Lillard has been upgraded to probable for tonight's 7:30 pm game vs. Lakers— Jason Quick (@jwquick) January 5, 2017
ESPN Sources: Portland guard Damian Lillard to return tonight against Los Angeles Lakers. Missed last five games with ankle sprain.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) January 5, 2017
The challenge for Portland is that their defense has been better of late, including during the five-game stretch without Lillard. Having two smaller guards in Lillard and McCollum creates problems. If Portland can keep defending, they can climb back up into the playoff mix in the West.
Lillard is sixth in the NBA in scoring at 27.0 points per game, a career high. He's also averaging 6.2 assists and 4.5 rebounds. Last season, Lillard averaged 31.7 points per game in three games against the Lakers.
They were also going to need Lillard to do that.