The Los Angeles Lakers return to the Staples Center after a brief two-game road trip to square off once again versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder came up big in their previous meeting last Saturday, where they built a huge lead early and never looked back in their 118-78 victory.
The Lakers are coming off an impressive come-from-behind victory over the Denver Nuggets last night. Meanwhile, the Thunder have won eight of their last nine games and will finish their back-to-back in Tinseltown after a narrow 100-99 win over the Clippers, thanks to a clutch jumper by Kevin Durant in the final seconds of the game.
Kevin Durant continues his stellar season as one of the top scorers and most efficient players in the league. At 26 points, seven rebounds, and four assist per game, his stats speak for itself. Although Westbrook is the clear-cut leader of this squad, it is Durant they turn to when the game is on the line. Durant continues to shoot 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep.
At center is the seven-footer, Steven Adams. Many were surprised to see Adams get the start over Enes Kanter, after the Thunder signed him away from the Utah Jazz in the offseason. However, Adams’ combination of athleticism and physicality leave little questioning about his effectiveness on the court.
Leading the way for the Thunder is one of the most impressive and intriguing players in the league, Russell Westbrook. Westbrook has been outstanding this season, and you can find his name in the top-five for nearly every major category there is including points, assist, rebounds, and steals. Though he didn’t put up particularly big numbers last game, given the flow of the match, he didn’t really need to.
Next to Westbrook is Andre Roberson, the young guard from Colorado. Although Roberson gets the start mostly for personnel reasons, Dion Waiters tends to take over the shooting guard spot. Roberson averages just four points per game, while Waiters has averaged ten points thus far this season.
Keys To Victory:
Defend the Pick-and-Roll:
Though going in it was well-known how potent the Thunder offense could be, it was a bit shocking to see how unstoppable their pick-and-roll looked. Steven Adams had ten points last game, all coming on alley-oops from Westbrook. It was still early on before the Thunder began to blow the Lakers out of the water, and the purple and gold should expect to see much of the same.
Stay Competitive on the Boards:
On top of their inability to slow the Thunder down, the purple and gold were also vastly out-rebounded 68-41. 12 of the Thunder’s 68 rebounds were offensive, which really isn’t that bad given the amount of total boards they had. If the Lakers want to stay competitive this game, they will need to figure out a way to match up the Thunder down low.
Los Angeles Lakers (4-23) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (19-9)
6:00 P.M. PST, December 19, 2015
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: TWC SportsNet / NBA TV
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 (Spanish)
Thunder Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Andre Roberson
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Serge Ibaka
C: Steven Adams
Key Reserves: SG Dion Waiters, PG DJ Augustin, C Enes Kanter
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Jordan Clarkson
SG: Lou Williams
SF: Kobe Bryant
PF: Larry Nance Jr.
C: Roy Hibbert
Key Reserves: PG D’Angelo Russell, PF Julius Randle, PF Brandon Bass