The Lakers shocked the basketball world this past Sunday when they defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-110 at Staples Center. Jodie Meeks would have a career afternoon, as he would score 42 points and covert six three-pointers. Coming into that match-up the Lakers had given up 408 points in three consecutive contests. They were well on their way to a disappointing defeat until Meeks caught fire in the third quarter. His hot shooting would ultimately lead the Lakers to victory against the the young and talented Thunder squad.
Tonight the Lakers will be on the road in Oklahoma City. We surely can expect the Thunder to not take the Lakers as lightly as they did earlier in the week. Kevin Durant was visually frustrated with the loss and he’s likely not going to allow his team to have another slacking performance.
It was good to see the Lakers pick up a pretty big victory amidst all the controversy stuck in this season of limbo. Hopefully they can be successful again tonight.
Frontcourt: The Thunder start Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, and Steven Adams in the front court. The unfortunate injuries of Thabo Sefolosha have forced Oklahoma City to adjust their lineup slightly. Adams is a formidable big that can provide solid defense. He’s very active and makes it a habit to be physical in the paint. It will be important for guys like Pau Gasol and Robert Sacre to match his energy.
Serge Ibaka is a a much improved player in the Thunders frontcourt. He is second in the league in blocks per game at 2.55 and is a good rebounder. He is averaging a career best 15.1 points per game, and has become one of the better mid range shooters in the league.
As for Kevin Durant, what can’t be said about him at this point? He’s arguably the best player in the game right now. He can score 40 points on any given night, and is on a mission this season. He’s the front-runner for MVP and is going to give the Lakers’ wings trouble.
Backcourt: With Sefolosha absent, Perry Jones slides to the shooting guard spot. Jones is a second-year player that doesn’t have much experience, but he provides much needed length on the perimeter that the Thunder lack with Sefolosha out.
Russell Westbrook anchors the Thunder backcourt. He’s bounced back well from multiple knee surgeries, as he is having yet another strong statistical year. Coming off the bench for the Thunder is Reggie Jackson. He’s proven to be a force to be reckoned with and the Lakers must make it a priority to contain him when the second unit is on the floor.
Keys to Lakers’ Victory
Offensive Efficiency: The Lakers got on a pretty good role in the second half against the Thunder on Sunday. A large part of that was a result of guard penetration paired with players converting from behind the arc. We’ve seen how hot this team can get if they make their three-pointers. If they are successful shooting the ball then they at least give themselves a chance to stay in the game.
Transition Defense: The Thunder are very young and athletic. Because of that we can expect them to try to capitalize on as many fast break opportunities as possible. The Lakers must limit their transition opportunities, and that starts with controlling the pace of the game on the offensive end.
Bench: The second unit must show up with the Lakers go on the road. It’s almost impossible for this team to win when they get no contribution from the bench. Whether it be Brooks, Farmar, or Bazemore, someone has to step up big if the Lakers are going to be successful on the road in Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Oklahoma City Thunder (47-17) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (22-42)
6:30 PM PST, March 13, 2014
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Thunder Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Perry Jones III
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Serge Ibaka
C: Steven Adams
Key Reserves: PG: Reggie Jackson, SF: Caron Butler, PF: Nick Collison
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Kendall Marshall
SG: Jodie Meeks
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Ryan Kelly
C: Pau Gasol
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