The Los Angeles Lakers play the first game of a two-game road trip tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Lakers used an outstanding third quarter to shut down the Atlanta Hawks. A good thing to see in that game was that Joe Johnson came out on fire and quickly put up 20 points; Ron Artest took on the challenge of putting out the fire and succeeded.
Los Angeles faces a talented young Oklahoma team with an average age of 25 years, 130 days; making them the second youngest team in the league.
Despite playing only three games so far this season the Thunder are playing very well and is the only team in the NBA not to allow 90 points in a game. The Lakers have to take on the challenge of winning this game and snapping that streak.
The Thunder are coming off of a very competitive game; led by Kevin Durant’s 22 points on 3-for-21 shooting against the Trailblazers, falling 83-74. This is a solid young team that is showing a lot of progress, moving in the right direction and starting to put it all together but is still making mistakes which the Lakers must capitalize on.
He will be defended by Ron Artest tonight and will more than likely have his struggles continue. This will allow Kobe Bryant to roam on defense. However, he will still have to slow both Thabo Sefolosha & James Harden. Both guys will also have the unenviable task of guarding Kobe in the post and on the perimeter.
Sefolosha, who recently signed a four year extension, is an established defender who has to work to stay out of foul trouble when defending Bryant. James Harden is a good young player that has never faced anyone as talented as Kobe and will be in need of using the word “help” on more than one occasion.
There is a good chance the Pau Gasol won’t play again, which means that Lamar Odom & Ron Artest will have to assist Andrew Bynum on the boards.
Bynum had a solid game scoring 21 points in the last outing but ended the game with only three boards. At seven foot, there should never be a game where he records less than seven boards. He needs to exert himself on both ends of the court and rebound in double digits and challenge more shots as the last line of defense. The Lakers need to continue to utilize excellent ball movement and excellent player movement while running their offense.
The Lakers were on the same page defensively in the third quarter of the last game and need to carry that momentum into this game. The Lakers can and will score but defense needs to be their focus.
I want to see the Lakers stop the dribble penetration, challenge every shot, control the boards and rotate out to three point shooters. The reserves have to make an impact, knock down shots and extend the lead created by the starters.
Tip-off: 5:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: KCAL (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- Oklahoma: Fox Sports OK (Brian Davis & Grant Long)
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Oklahoma: 640 AM & 98.1 FM (Matt Pinto)
- Pau Gasol (Hamstring)
- None Reported.