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Preview 56 of 82: Thunder @ Lakers

Time: 9:30 PM CT


Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)

Game Notes: Thunder / Lakers

This morning, I had zero percent interest in watching tonight’s Thunder game. Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony are both listed as questionable, Lonzo Ball is out with a knee injury, the Lakers are not good, and I’m still reveling in the Thunder’s beautiful win against the Warriors. Then, I got this epic Woj bomb: the Lakers have traded Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson to the Cavs for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a 2018 first-round draft pick. Suddenly, I’m intrigued.

While Thomas and Frye will not suit up for the Lakers tonight, the commentary surrounding the trade, the pre/post-game interviews, and the absence of Nance and Clarkson will surely be interesting. In addition, expect a lot of speculation that the Lakers are clearing space to try to acquire Paul George this summer. Since Thomas and Frye both have expiring contracts, the Lakers could free up as much as 70 million dollars, or, in other words, enough for not one, but two, max-contract players.

Tip-off is at 9:30 PM CT on TNT and Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder is currently a 5.5-point favorite according to OddsShark.

Update: Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony will not play.

Injury Report


  • Russell Westbrook: Out – Ankle
  • Carmelo Anthony: Out – Ankle
  • Andre Roberson: Out – Knee


  • Lonzo Ball: Out – Knee

Probable Starters

Thunder: Raymond Felton, Josh Huestis, Paul George, Patrick Patterson, Steven Adams

Lakers: Josh Hart, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Brook Lopez




Four Factors


Synergy Sports

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Thunder O & D

Lakers O & D

Previous Results

January 3 @ LAL: OKC 133 LAL 96 [BOX SCORE]

January 17 @ OKC: OKC 114 LAL 90 [BOX SCORE]

February 4 @ OKC: LAL 108 OKC 104 [BOX SCORE]


Thunder Trade Deadline. Unlike the Lakers, the Thunder was not successful in getting a trade through before the deadline, which means Billy Donovan will need to make a decision on who will start at shooting guard going forward. Donovan went with Josh Huestis on Tuesday, opting away from Terrance Ferguson. Huestis finished with 6 points, 5 rebounds, and +8 rating. The Thunder still has an open roster spot though and will probably be active in the buyout market before the buyout deadline. More on the implications of today’s trade deadline here.

All Paul. Paul George played absolutely out of his mind in Tuesday’s win against the Warriors. With 38 points and six steals, George got it done on both ends of the floor and made a strong case for why he should be Defensive Player of the Year. Playing off Westbrook’s energy and confidence, it looks like George is coming into his own on the Thunder roster. He has not only accepted his role as Westbrook’s trusted sidekick, but is absolutely thriving in it. He’s leading the league in deflections per game (4.5) and steals per game (2.23), while averaging 30.2 points on 53.7 percent shooting and 53 percent from downtown against four of the league’s best teams (Cavs, Raptors, Rockets, and Warriors). He also did this to KD, which is just the icing on top:

Best of the Best. The Thunder is now 5-0 and averaging a +16.6 point-differential against the Raptors, Rockets, Warriors, and Cavaliers. The team still has one game each versus the Warriors, Raptors, and Cavaliers, and two games remaining versus the Rockets. OKC is also a league-best 5-1 in games where they are considered underdogs.

Hart Attack. Lakers forward Josh Hart is one to watch tonight. In his past three games, Hart has recorded three-straight double-doubles, including 36 total rebounds. OKC has excelled on the boards this season, but with Melo and Russ questionable, Steven Adams and Jerami Grant will take on a larger load. Look for Hart to be aggressive, especially without Nance.

Consistency is Key. OKC has a tendency to slack off against weaker teams. Case in point, the Thunder just broke a four-game losing streak (that included a loss to the Lakers) with the win over the Warriors. Heading into the late stage of the season, it’s important that OKC becomes consistent on both ends of the court regardless of the opponent. The Thunder currently sits two games behind fourth in the West and a chance at a home-court advantage over the Timberwolves.

The Replacements. If Westbrook and Melo can’t go, expect an obscene dose of Raymond Felton, Patrick Patterson, and Jerami Grant. We’re also looking at a possible Paul George/Steven Adams two-man game. Get excited.