Preview: Oklahoma City At L.A. Lakers
When: 10:30 PM ET, Friday, January 8, 2016
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
The Oklahoma City Thunder clobbered the Los Angeles Lakers twice in December and attempt to deliver another beating when the teams meet Friday in Los Angeles. The Thunder won the two meetings by 40 and 35 points and are looking to post their seven consecutive victory over the Lakers.
Oklahoma City held Los Angeles to an average of 81.5 points and shooting percentages of 34.9 and 36 percent from the field in the two recent routs. The Thunder have won 14 of their last 17 overall games and Wednesday’s 112-94 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies marked the 12th time in 13 games they scored 100 or more points. The Lakers lost 118-115 to the Sacramento Kings in a contest in which they trailed by as many as 27 points for their second straight setback since a season-long, three-game winning streak. Rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell poured in a season-best 27 points but suffered a sprained right ankle late in the contest and postgame X-rays were negative.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, FSN Oklahoma, SportsNet LA (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE THUNDER (25-11): Small forward Kevin Durant has scored 20 or more points in each of his last 21 games and contributed 26 points and a season-best 17 rebounds against the Grizzlies. Durant missed Oklahoma City’s previous game – a loss to Sacramento on Monday – with a sprained toe and started off 2-of-10 shooting against Memphis before rebounding with 17 second-half points on 7-of-8 shooting. “I came back from halftime and told myself I had to focus on every shot because I missed so many early on – it could’ve been a 2-for-17 night for me,” Durant told reporters. “So I tried to turn it in to something good that second half.”
ABOUT THE LAKERS (8-29): Small forward Kobe Bryant returned from a two-game absence because of a shoulder injury and poured in 28 points in 31 minutes against the Kings to join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone as the only players to top 33,000 career points. Bryant, who has 33,010, has scored 20 or more in six of his past 10 contests but sat out the final 12 minutes as youngsters Jordan Clarkson and Russell led the spirited comeback. “I wasn’t worried about getting out there in the fourth quarter,” Bryant said afterward. “It’s important for this team to learn how to (compete in close games).”
1. The Thunder have won 12 of the past 15 meetings.
2. Los Angeles backup F Brandon Bass had a career-best five steals against Sacramento while playing a season-high 36 minutes.
3. Oklahoma City PG Russell Westbrook is 17-of-55 shooting – including 3-of-14 from 3-point range – over the past three games.
PREDICTION: Thunder 126, Lakers 97