Current Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (47-17), Los Angeles Lakers (22-42)
Last time they met: Los Angeles Lakers (114) defeated Oklahoma City Thunder (110)
It’s been merely days since the Los Angeles Lakers took to the floor against the Oklahoma City Thunder and proceeded to hand them a stunning defeat. Behind a career high 42 points from shooting guard Jodie Meeks, the Lakers held off a furious Thunder comeback to cause the upset of the week. It will be fresh in the minds of the Thunder and they will look to make amends for what really was a lackluster performance.
They are at home and with a gritty and hard fought win over the Houston Rockets – who had been on a tear beating the Pacers, Heat and Trailblazers – the Thunder will be confident. It was an intense battle against Houston who are now becoming very much a conference rival. The Lakers aren’t at the same level in terms of team talent and they are no longer a thorn in the Thunder’s side as they were a few years ago, but LA have shown that on their night, they can and will beat good teams.
Perry Jones started again at the shooting guard spot in place of Thabo and he did a great job on James Harden early. If he gets the nod again, you can bet he will be keyed in on Jodie Meeks this time. The Thunder can’t get caught up in the last matchup though. The Lakers executed more effectively and they outworked the Thunder to get a win – it was as simple as that. Oklahoma City looked like a completely different unit against the Rockets and that is the type of effort and intensity they will want to show this time around against LA.
Serge Ibaka vs Pau Gasol
What a terrific match up this was in their last meeting. Both power forwards made plays and were very good for their respective teams and had an impact. They will lock horns and get back to business again hoping to make a similar impact while limiting the influence of the other. Ibaka was terrific against the Rockets and reeled in 16 rebounds and had 4 blocks. The Thunder would love a similar stat line from the big man at the conclusion of this one.
Kevin Durant vs Wesley Johnson (and others)
Durant has a triple double in the last meeting between these two but it wasn’t enough to get the Thunder across the line. He will be required for another stellar performance and we might see even more offence from his this time around, coming off a 42 point explosion against the Rockets. The Lakers did a good job of hounding Durant wherever he went, and in the end, for all Durant’s brilliance, the Lakers got the win and that is all that matters. Best believe KD won’t be allowing the Lakers to control the tempo or limit him in this one. Whether scoring or allowing the offence to run through him – you feel it’s going to be a big night for Durant.
Russell Westbrook vs Kendall Marshall
Westbrook had 20pts, 8ast and 7rebs in the last meeting between these two, but he struggled from the field going just 7-23 on the night. He will want to avoid replicating that performance. Against the Rockets he had a much better night, getting to the line and scored the ball a little more efficiently, something that he will need to do in order to penalize the Lakers at the point guard position. His focus as he faced off against Patrick Beverley was first class and he brought a great deal of energy and pressure – the Thunder will want to see more of that in this one.
Can the Lakers cause another upset or have the Thunder rectified their defensive deficiencies? You better hope it is the latter and judging from their lock down effort on the Rockets, their renewed focus to the defensive end should avoid any career nights from the Lakers camp. While you can’t really pick any game with any certainty, smart money is on the Thunder making up for their lapse just days ago and really putting the Lakers to the sword. Thunder 116, Lakers 89.