Los Angeles Lakers (15-20, 103.2 ppg, 101.7 ppg allowed)
- Robert Sacre (1.4 ppg, 32.1% fg, .2 apg, 1 rpg)
- Metta World Peace (13.8 ppg, 42.8% fg,1.5 apg, 5.9 rpg)
- Earl Clark (3 ppg, 48.3% fg, .5 apg, 2.4 rpg)
- Kobe Bryant (30.1 ppg, 47.5% fg, 4.8 apg, 5.1 rpg)
- Steve Nash (11.1 ppg, 53.3% fg, 8.9 apg, 2.9 rpg)
Oklahoma City Thunder (27-8, 105.4 ppg, 96.3 ppg allowed)
- Kendrick Perkins (4.2 ppg, 45.3% fg, 1.4 apg, 5.6 rpg)
- Serge Ibaka (14.5 ppg, 57.1% fg, .4 apg, 8.4 rpg)
- Kevin Durant (28.1 ppg, 51.9% fg, 4.2 apg, 7.8 rpg)
- Thabo Sefolosha (7.5 ppg, 47.3% fg, 1.7 apg, 4 rpg)
- Russell Westbrook (21.8 ppg, 41.4% fg, 8.5 apg, 5.1 rpg)
7:30 pm PST
A Friday night prime time game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers must have looked mighty fine when ESPN slated the game to air nationally. The newly renovated Lakers toting Dwight Howard and Steve Nash along with usual suspects Kobe Bryant going blow for blow with the no-longer-up-and-coming-and-now-here Thunder.
That was before the Lakers decided to fall over their own feet from the first game they played in the pre-season, and have been trying to get back up ever since. Now, the Lakers are fighting for the eighth seed in the playoffs while the Thunder battle for the #1 seed. Funny how times have changed since the Lakers knocked the Thunder out of the playoffs all those years ago.
Pau Gasol will miss tonight's game and Earl Clark will fill out the starting lineup. His assignement? Squash the Durantula. While one good defensive game doesn't add up to much in the long term (see: Devin Ebanks), if he's able to show he can play solid fundamental defense tonight it could bode well for the Lakers. Earl Clark's success would check off a fair amount of boxes in their team needs: Youth, athleticism, and a 3/4 who can play defense.
While one good defensive game may not mean much for Clark long term, it would go a long way for the Lakers, who just need a win at this point. Currently drowning in a five game losing streak, a playoff seeding isn't going to fall into their laps. The Western Conference is ruthless and fully enjoying kicking the Lakers when their down. Every team goes into L.A. with malice filled intentions, and now with their floundering, the utmost confidence that they can get whatever they want.
With the Lakers in disarray and now hoping that Earlsanity will serve as a defibrillator for their lifeless season the Thunder have an opportunity to bury the Lakers even further. To play with the aggression and killer instinct that a top tier team should. When the Lakers are down you kick them. After you kick them you bury them. After you bury them? You light the coffin on fire. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant will try to devour the shred of spirit left in the Lakers while a national audience watches. Who will stop them?
Will Kobe Bryant tune in on both ends of the floor? He loves stepping up in indivdual match-ups as we saw against Chris Paul of the Clippers. With Russell Westbrook as his assignment, perhaps he'll step up and provide us with a vintage Kobe defensive performance. It's not all on Kobe, but his defensive engagement as the leader of the Lakers helps set the tone, especially with the absence of Dwight Howard.
Prepare yourselves for another Lakers game.
On This Soundtrack
The Beatles - While my [banners] Gently Weep
- Follow this author on Twitter @BallReasons
- Welcome to Loud City is probably licking their chops as they look forward to taking it to the Lakers defense.