Lakers vs. Thunder: Pregame Primer
Lakers (1-1, 0-1 road) vs. Thunder (2-0, 1-0 home)
TV: FS Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
Time: 6:00 PM CST
Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats)
- Offensive Rating: Thunder – 96.8 (24th), Lakers – 103.0 (17th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 94.1 (5th), Lakers – 106.9 (20th)
We always knew there would be games like this for Russell Westbrook. Fifty-one points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists on 44 shots. It felt very Kobe Bryant-esque, but at the same time, it didn’t feel forced. It was all within the flow of the game, with the biggest shot in regulation time coming on an Andre Roberson 3 that was Westbrook’s ninth helper of the game late in the 4th quarter.
In the end, though, the Thunder came out on top and remain undefeated at 2-0. The opponents the Thunder have faced will likely be lottery-bound teams, but one of the most used quotes I heard last season was “Good teams just find a way to win.” Two games in, the Thunder have fallen behind early, but found a way to win each game. It may not be pretty, but this style of winning may be more beneficial to the developing Thunder, than just blowing out every inferior opponent possible.
This is the first of three meetings this season between the Thunder and Lakers. The Thunder swept the season series last year, winning three of the four games by over 30 points.
The Los Angeles Lakers come into the game with a 1-1 record. The Lakers are in the beginning stages of a rebuild, but have a couple players that are beginning to show promise. D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson make up a unique backcourt, while Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr, and Julius Randle each offer different skill sets in the frontcourt. Veterans Lou Williams, Timofey Mozgov, and Luol Deng round out the Lakers’ rotation. Once a primetime destination for free agents, the Lakers have whiffed in the last few offseasons causing them to go into rebuild mode following the retirement of Kobe Bryant.
- Cameron Payne (foot)
3 Big Things1. Quick start
The last two games, the Thunder have been down to their opponents by double digits at some point in the first quarter. The starting five has to do a better job of getting itself acclimated to the opponent and staying with them on the scoreboard. Look for the Thunder to come out fast this game and build up a lead early.2. Stopping penetration
The Thunder have to do a better job of stopping guards and wings from getting in the paint. There were times in the last two games where the Thunder guards did a good job of sticking with their man initially, but as the shot clock wound down, the player would get into the lane and cause havoc from there. With Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant gone, the mindset of the Thunder can’t be to funnel everything to Steven Adams.3. Triple Westbrook
Two games in: 41.5 pts, 12.5 rebs, 9.5 asts. It’s early, I know. But, wow, is this guy a talent. Can he keep this up for an 82 game season? Probably not for a mere mortal. But to Russell Westbrook, “getting tired is a mentality.” And Russell Westbrook ain’t about that mentality.