Photo Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

March 9, 2014 — 12:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: ABC
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

408 points. Let that soak in, Laker Nation. The Lakers have allowed that many points in their last 3 games which, according to LATimes.com’s Mike Bresnahan, happens to be the most points the Lakers have ever allowed in a 3-game stretch in their franchise history.

A combination of turnovers, poor rebounding, and slow rotation on defense have doomed the Lakers on the defensive end.

Now, the Lakers will have to face off vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (46-16), a team destined to be in the mix to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals once again.  

Thunder F Kevin Durant has dominated the NBA this season, averaging a spectacular 31.8 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 7.7 RPG. Durant, who has scored more than 30 points vs. Lakers 12 out of their last 15 meetings, should score 30 points again at ease.

Durant’s counterpart, PG Russell Westbrook, has returned to the form he possessed prior to his injury. Since returning from injury, scoring 21 PPG and dishing out 7.3 APG.

Despite losing a nail-biter vs. Suns last Thursday and going 3-4 in their last 7 games, the Thunder should not exert much energy vs. Lakers today.

For the Lakers, C Pau Gasol will play tonight after turning his right ankle vs. Nuggets tonight.

Also, this will be former Lakers PG Derek Fisher‘s final game on the Lakers floor after he announced he plans to retire following this season before regular season started. Fisher was one of the main reasons why the Lakers won 5 NBA Championship with SG Kobe Bryant

Projected Starters

PG – Russell Westbrook / Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Thunder]
SG – Perry Jones III / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Lakers]
SF – Kevin Durant / Kent Bazemore [Advantage: Thunder]
PF – Serge Ibaka / Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Thunder]
C – Steven Adams / Pau Gasol [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Thunder: G Derek Fisher, G Jeremy Lamb, F Nick Collison, SF Caron Butler
Lakers: PG Jordan Farmar, C Robert Sacre, F Ryan Kelly, Marshon Brooks, Xavier Henry

Bench Advantage: Thunder

Injury List

Thunder: Out-C Kendrick Perkins, Out-G Thabo Sefelosha
Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant,  Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-F Jordan Hill Will Play-C Pau Gasol,

Bottom Line

The Lakers have to show some grit and play with the same energy they exerted when they almost beat the Thunder right before the All-Star Break. C Chris Kaman led the way scoring 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Now, he finds himself buried at the end of the bench for reasons unknown to many Lakers supporters. The Thunder seek to end this game quickly and give superstars Durant and Westbrook most of the 2nd half off.

Prediction

Thunder: 135-119