Preview 78 of 82: Thunder vs Lakers
Time: 7:00 PM CST
TV: TNT & FSOK
The Thunder (44-33) are back in action tonight in Oklahoma City, looking to snap a two-game slide against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers (35-42). OKC has lost seven of their last nine — most recently on Sunday against the Luka Doncic-less Mavericks — to find themselves eighth in the Western Conference with five regular season games remaining. The Lakers will be without LeBron James (thigh) and others this evening, which is either a good thing or a very bad thing depending on how you look at it.
Tip-off is at 7:00 PM CST and will be televised on TNT and Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder are 13-point home favorites according to Odds Shark.
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
- Kyle Kuzma: Questionable — Foot
- Reggie Bullock: Probable — Foot
- LeBron James: Out — Groin
- Brandon Igram: Out — Arm
- Lonzo Ball: Out — Ankle
- Josh Hart: Out — Knee
- Tyson Chandler: Out — Flu
Lakers: Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lance Stephenson, Mortiz Wagner, JaVale McGee
|Team||EFG||FTA%||TO%||OREB%||OP EFG||OP FTA||OP TO||OP OREB|
Season series tied 1-1
What to Watch For
Rule #76: The Lakers will be without LeBron James, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart — plus, Kyle Kuzma is ‘questionable’ with a foot injury. I know this Thunder team just got embarrassed by the Mavericks without Luka Doncic, but surely OKC wins this one, right? Right?
Beating the Bad Teams: After Sunday’s loss to Dallas, the Thunder are now 11-13 against non-playoff teams in the Western Conference. I share this for no other purpose than to illustrate how silly it would be to get over-confident against LA.
Can You Keep Up?: In case you’ve had some luck wiping your recent memory, here’s how things have gone: the Thunder have trailed by double-digits in 18 of their last 21 games. Making matters worse, 14 of the 18 double-digit deficits were established in the first half. Obviously that can’t keep up, but neither can the Thunder, so we’ve arrived at an impasse. A full 48 minutes against a short-handed Lakers team would be therapeutic for everyone involved, even if it didn’t mean much ultimately.
The Role Players: Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Steven Adams combined for 72 points on 27-of-56 shooting on Sunday against the Mavs — all three scoring more than 20 points and grabbing more than 11 rebounds. However, the rest of the team combined for just 31 points on 11-of-42 from the field, which is never going to work. Jerami Grant and Dennis Schroder stepping up and sharing the load is something I endorse here.
The Other Guys. The Lakers beat the Pelicans 130-102 on Sunday — giving them a 1-0 record since shutting down LeBron for the season. Should they upset (?) the Thunder tonight in OKC, they’ll likely need contributions from unlikely places like they got on Sunday. Rajon Rondo led them with 24 points and 12 assists, with JaVale McGee (23 pts, 16 reb), former Blue legend Alex Caruso (23 pts, 4 stl), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (19 pts), and Reggie Bullock (18 pts, 4/6 3P) coming up big in the victory. LA shot 15-of-38 (39.5%) from long range, handed out 30 assists, and forced New Orleans into 24 turnovers. The Thunder could fall victim to the Ewing Theory if that continues.
Gallo’s game day report: