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Sunday 20th April 2014,
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Game Day #60: vs. Lakers

Chuck Chaney March 5, 2013 Comments Off
Oklahoma City Thunder (43-16, 26-4 home) at Los Angeles Lakers (30-30, 10-19 away)
VS

Where: The ‘Peake!
When: 8:30 pm
TV:
 TNT (245 DirecTV, 31 Cox, 108 AT&T U-Verse, 138 Dish)
Online StreamHere.
RadioWWLS Sports Animal 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: OKC favored by 8.5. O/U – 214.5
Official Game NotesHere.
Projected Lineups:

Thunder Lakers
PG: Russell Westbrook  Steve Nash
SG: Thabo Sefolosha  Kobe Bryant
SF: Kevin Durant  Metta World Peace
PF: Serge Ibaka  Earl Clark
C: Kendrick Perkins  Dwight Howard
6th: Kevin Martin  Antwain Jamison

Last Time: When these two teams met last time, Oklahoma City fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 105-96 in LA on January 27th. Russell Westbrook dropped a double-double and Kevin Durant had 35 points. Westbrook’s poor shooting night really didn’t help the Thunder.

Tonight two teams, on two different paths, come to do battle in the Peake on TNT. Oklahoma City has struggled recently. They’re just 4-4 in their last eight games. However, they are 4-1 in their last five. So, maybe things will be be turning around as the Thunder host the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are coming off a 108-104 over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. Durant had 35 points, 9 points. Westbrook had 29 points, 10 assists in the victory. The Thunder lead by as many as 19 points before the Clippers switched to a zone defense and confused the Thunder.

With the zone defense forcing the Thunder to a 6-of-22 shooting over a 10 minute span, the Clippers took full advantage, and actually took the lead off the 7-point possession that surrounded the Serge Ibaka hitting Blake Griffin in the groin incident. Westbrook was very clutch down the stretch to help save the victory.

We spoke to Johnny of 62in33.com on the current state of the Lakers. This is what he had to say:

The Lakers are really in desperation mode, so much that Dwight Howard is actually playing with effort (Only took him more than half a season) and Kobe Bryant seems crankier than normal (If you can believe that) Their season doesn’t depend on what they do anymore, it depends on the likes of the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and the Utah Jazz. The team has won five of the last six games since the all-star break (Also since their owner Jerry Buss died) and are playing with much energy than earlier, despite Steve Nash saying last week that they still don’t have an identity, and he’s right, they still don’t.

Their most recent game was on Sunday, a 99-98 victory over the Atlanta Hawks at home. While most fans went crazy about how Kobe Bryant could still dunk and how Al Horford called “Vino” as Bryant seems to be calling himself these days, the best player in the game, their offense looked really bad in the 4th quarter. Bryant was taking all kind of unnecessary shots, not looking to pass even if the ball was on flames. He made the huge dunk over Josh Smith and the game winning shot (Over Smith’s long arms) that ended up giving them the victory. However, that’s not an offense of a playoff caliber team. It took the Lakers a mental mistake by Josh Smith in the final possession of the game to get a MUST win game, that’s not very good. The Lakers also blew a 16 third quarter lead and committed 21 turnovers.

Now for the good part, the Laker bench is finally playing a big role now that the injuries to Jordan Hill and Pau Gasol made it easier for head coach Mike D’Antoni to use an eight man rotation, just how he loves it. Steve Blake came back less than a month ago from injury and his presence alone, not having to play Darius Morris or Chris Duhon, as well as his good chemistry with the other bench players (Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks) and center Dwight Howard, is giving them a big spark.

The Lakers right now are not your typical 9th seed, but they still have many issues if they want to compete against the likes of the San Antonio Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder. And I don’t think they’ll get to that point this year. This season has been unpredictable, and if Pau Gasol returns completely healthy before the postseason, thinks could get interesting.

After dismantling the Sacramento Kings, the Oklahoma City Thunder travel to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers in the last game of their six consecutive road games. It will also be the ninth road game in 10 games. Oklahoma City is 7-2 in these nine games, 6-2 in road games. Loses to Golden State, should’ve won and loss to Denver, didn’t deserve to win. It’ll be nice to get back home after this game.

These teams have a rich history. Oklahoma City and Los Angeles Lakers are meeting for the 17th time since the franchise moved to Oklahoma City. Los Angeles owns a 9-7 series advantage. Thunder went 2-1 last season vs. LA. However, that doesn’t count the playoffs. These two teams have played over 40 games in the playoffs. Oklahoma City though, owns the 7-5 series advantage after eliminating the Lakers in five games last season.

Oklahoma City is really healthy tonight. So, there’s that. Oklahoma City has been really lucky, they’ve been one of the only teams in the league who’ve only played three starting line ups. Players haven’t missed too many games due to injury. Tonight could be different though. We could definitely be playing without Ibaka. He may be suspended for tonight’s game.

Los Angeles, that’s a different story. The Lakers Jordan Hill is out for the season. Pau Gasol is out until at least the middle of the month, so he’ll be absent tonight.

Keys to the Game

Turnovers
Both teams are in the bottom three in the turnover category, respectively. Who ever can take care of the ball more will probably find themselves with a W in this ball game. Oklahoma City did a great job against the Clippers and it paid off to get a win. Oklahoma City will have to do the same thing again tonight.

Get clutch
The Oklahoma City Thunder have struggled to close out the Lakers in all three games. The Thunder led by big leads in the first two games, yet the Lakers came back, making both games a lot closer than they should’ve been. The third game, the game was close, and the Lakers closed, sealing the win. Close guys. Juts close.

 

Three-Point shooting
The first two times these two teams met, Oklahoma City shot the lights out from the arc. The last time they met, the Thunder shot poorly, just 4-of-16. The Thunder need to be consistent they’re going to beat this stubborn Lakers team. In wins, the Thunder are shooting over 38 percent and under 30 percent in losses against the Lakers.

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Founder & Editor-in-Chief. Member of the Professional Basketball Writer's Association. Lover of Advanced Stats. Russell Westbrook apologist.