Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Lakers and Thunder will face-off for the third time this season. A win today would be huge for L.A.; a potential turning point for a season lost at sea.
12:30 pm PST
There's a big game of basketball being played in Staples Center for the Los Angeles Lakers today. After dominating just about every facet of the game against the Utah Jazz in Friday night's blowout, the Lakers looked like a team that could, at the very least, put up a fight against the elite teams of the NBA. With the Oklahoma City Thunder visiting an opportunity to put a trophy win on the walls of the locker room has arrived yet again. Can they take advantage of it?
It's difficult to conjure words to describe how big a win today would be for Los Angeles. Not just because they simply need wins at this point, not just because it's a top tier opponent (they haven't gathered many quality opponent wins this season), but because this is it. Time is running out for the Lakers to make a final push. Sunday's featured game on ABC provides everything the purple and gold need in a win that can be the catalyst for a season on life support:
A) A top tier team in the Oklahoma City Thunder.
B) Both the Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers won last night and the Lakers need to stay on pace
C) Related, the Lakers need to stop losing ground on said teams as well.
D) It's a Sunday national broadcast game. All eyes upon the Lakers.
These teams have faced off twice this season with the Thunder walking away victorious each time. The first time they played the Lakers had neither Pau Gasol or Steve Nash, and when they played earlier in January both Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard were out. Now, the Lakers will have their full roster (sans the savior Steve Blake, who is targeting a return Tuesday). Will it make a difference against a team as talented as the Thunder? It certainly can't hurt not starting Robert Sacre at center.
Last time the teams played Kevin Durant danced around the court for 42 points on 16-25 shooting while Russell Westbrook had a 27 point and 10 assist game. Kobe Bryant had 28 points, but on 8-23 shooting (10-13 from the line) while Metta World Peace and Antawn Jamison took a combined 35 field goal attempts and made only 13 of them (1-12 from deep). Nothing good to dig up out of the wreckage of a game it was on January 11th.
This is a new day, a new game, and hopefully a rejuvenated Lakers team though. They played well Friday, but that isn't enough. They must build upon, and improve upon, their performance. They must apply it against a contending team, and not a 7th seed team. There's still untapped potential somewhere deep down that they've been desperately trying to uncover. Here's another go at discovering jewels and not just fools gold. From "clear the air" team meetings, to the multitude of changes they've instilled in their lineups and strategies, the desperation is there. Every person in the organization knows it, and the rest of the league knows it. Either the Lakers will come out as a headstrong team looking to make a statement, or the Oklahoma City Thunder will smell the blood in the water and go straight for the throat. For the third straight time. It's time for the Lakers to be the Lakers and not some disappointing, dysfunctional, group of players trying to do it their own way. In the end, it come's down to this for Los Angeles.
Put up, or shut up.
Enjoy the game.
On This Soundtrack
Madvillain - Great Day
- Follow this author on Twitter @DrewGarrisonSBN
- Swim with the sharks seeking purple and gold blood over at Welcome to Loud City, our SB Nation Thunder community.
Plot Twist: Weigh in on what happens tonight
Kevin Durant drops 35+ on the Lakers (37 votes)
Kobe Bryant drops 35+ on the Thunder (19 votes)
Russell Westbrook has more assists than Steve Nash (11 votes)
Dwight Howard has a 20/20 game (29 votes)
96 total votes