The (55-24) Los Angeles Lakers are at Staples Center to host the (53-26) Oklahoma City Thunder. Tonight’s game is the third of the three game season series. The Lakers have taken the two previous games. However, this is the first time that Kendrick Perkins will be in the line up for the Thunder
Just last week the Lakers, appeared to be poised to overtake the Spurs for the top spot in the West pulling to within 1 ½ games. They’re now fighting to hold onto the number two seed. They have become a complete paradox of that group.
With three games to play, they have a one-game lead over the third-place Mavericks, two games over the fourth-place Thunder and holds the tiebreaker against both.
After witnessing the four-game skid, we need to put out an ‘A.P.B. (All Points Bulletin, for those who don’t know)’ on the post All-Star break Lakers team or feature them on the long running CBS show ‘Without A Trace’ because their disappearance is a mystery. Wait. CBS gave that show the axe, which is exactly what the Lakers need to do to their lethargic play as of late.
A win tonight and the Lakers clinch the second seed. They need to break out of this funk, snap the losing streak and start to build some momentum for the post-season.
The Lakers must play hard, their effort, energy, focus and execution has to return to an acceptable level. They have been turning the ball too much, an alarming 69 during the four-game losing skid. They have averaged 18.3 turnovers during the skid. The Thunder beat the Nuggets 104-89 on Friday and forced Denver into 19 turnovers.
The most important task for the Lakers is to take care of the ball. Thunder wants to get out in transition and use their speed and athleticism to create easy scoring opportunities. It is necessary that the Lakers control the tempo of the game, communicate on defense, and stop the dribble penetration of Russell Westbrook and do a solid job defending the screen and roll play.
It is imperative that the Lakers get back in transition, defend, limit the Thunder to one shot per possession, rebound and quickly rotate out to open shooters. The addition of Kendrick Perkins gives the Thunder a formidable front line. To win, the Lakers have to play a mistake free game and do something that they have not done in a week, out-work their opponent.
The Lakers front line needs to be show up big tonight. They have to use excellent ball movement and excellent player movement to find a high percentage shot close to the basket. Also, they need to start their offense on the interior and provide Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest enough touches to dominate.
This writer wants to see the Lakers aggressively attack the rim early and often as opposed to shooting jump shots. The aggression should allow the Lakers to score easy baskets, get the Thunder’s big men in foul trouble and earn trips to the free throw line. It is imperative that they knock down their free throws. In their last game, the Lakers lost to the Blazers 93-86. They could have snapped the streak by knocking down seven free throws.
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, R. Artest, P. Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Thunder: R. Westbrook, T. Sefolosha, K. Durant, S. Ibaka, K. Perkins
Tip-off: 6:30 PM
- Los Angeles: FS West (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- Oklahoma City: FS Oklahoma (Brian Davis & Grant Long)
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Oklahoma City: 640 AM & 98.1 FM (Matt Pinto)
- Kobe Bryant (Sprained Left Ankle) Will Play
- Devin Ebanks (Stress Fracture, Left Tibia) Out
- Pau Gasol (Bone Bruise, Right Knee) Day-to-Day
- Theo Ratliff (Left Knee Surgery) Questionable