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Thunder vs. Lakers: Pregame Primer

Thunder vs. Lakers: Pregame Primer



Thunder (19-9, 6-6 road) vs. Lakers (5-23, 2-7 home)

TV: NBATV/FS Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 1300 AM The Buzz Tulsa)
Time: 9:30 PM CST

Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats)

  • Offensive Rating: Thunder – 108.1 (2nd), Lakers – 97.3 (29th)
    Defensive Rating: Thunder – 99.2 (7th), Lakers – 108.8 (29th)

For the first time since the opener, the Thunder finally got a signature win over a top-tier team. The Thunder had to battle down the stretch, going back and forth with the Clippers in the final 5 minutes of the game, before finally making enough plays to secure the victory. It was the type of victory that you could plant your flag on.

Over the past month, the Thunder’s only 3 losses have been road losses to the Cavaliers, Hawks, and Heat. For all the hustle and bustle about the Thunder’s inability to win close games down the stretch against good teams, what’s been lost is that the Thunder were a shot away from either tying or winning each of those games. And that’s all you can ask for when you play good teams on the road.

But in the Clippers game, the team finally broke through. Maybe it was the fact that the Clippers are the Clippers. Or maybe it was the fact that the Thunder, for all of their experience together, had to relearn how to win tough games after missing so much time as a cohesive unit last season. Whatever it was, its definitely a step in the right direction for this team as they enter a stretch where they will likely be favored in every game for the next month.

This is the second of four meetings between the Thunder and Lakers this season. The Thunder barely won the first meeting by 40 points. In that game, the Lakers were without Kobe Bryant, but it probably wouldn’t have even mattered.

The Opponent

The Lakers come into the game with a 5-23 record, but won their last game against the Denver Nuggets, 111-107. It was a game that featured a vintage performance by Bryant, who scored 31 points on 10-22 shooting overall and 9-11 from the free throw line. Bryant scored 11 of those points in the fourth quarter as he had an answer for every Nuggets rally. The game also saw the continued development of Jordan Clarkson, who scored 19 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and had 2 steals. It will be interesting to see how long the Lakers allow Byron Scott to keep D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle on the bench. Those two players need as much development as possible this season and the Lakers need to lose as many games as possible to keep their first round pick (Top-3 protected).

3 Big Things

1.Second night of back to back Kobe

What the NBA world witnessed yesterday was vintage Kobe. The driving to the basket, the elevation on the shot, the answering of every Nuggets 4th quarter run. It was like we hopped into the way back machine and went back to 2010. But while that was vintage Kobe yesterday, I wonder what Kobe woke up to this morning. The late night flight back to LA from Denver. The 32 minutes of game action from last night. Will the Kobe tonight have anything left in the tank?

This is where having Andre Roberson out there may hurt us. While Roberson will make Kobe work on the offensive end, Kobe will be able to rest on the defensive end.

2. Don’t remember the last game

The Thunder are real good about forgetting the last game and looking at the current game at hand. But, the Thunder players are also human. And they remember the spanking they put on the Lakers four nights ago. If the Thunder rest on their laurels and remember their old victory, they may find themselves in a dog fight with this young Lakers team. The Lakers will likely come into this game on a high after their last victory and also with the memory of their 40 point loss.

3. Josh Huestis

He was recalled from the Oklahoma City Blue two nights ago, and tonight would probably be the perfect opportunity for him to see his first professional action. I’ve always pulled for this kid and would love to see what he can do in an NBA setting.