The Los Angeles Lakers are happy to be home after a back-to-back road trip, but they’re still singing the mid-season blues as the Oklahoma City Thunder come to town. Lonzo Ball and Brook Lopez have been cleared to return to practice, but Ball has been ruled out of the game. Lopez is available to play.
Kyle Kuzma’s quadriceps contusion seems to be a lingering injury after he re-aggravated it against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He’s also been upgraded to available for the Lakers’ first matchup against Russell Westbrook’s Thunder, but his downward trend and ailing leg are something to keep an eye on.
The big story, of course, is Paul George playing in STAPLES Center to start 2018. The Thunder are playing a back-to-back against both Los Angeles teams, and attention has already been diverted to George’s ties to a future homecoming. The Lakers are obviously keeping tabs on George after being hit with a $500,000 fine for making it a little too transparent over the summer, and George was fairly candid about not regretting requesting a trade back home to Los Angeles before embarking on his trip back home.
The Thunder have found a bit of a groove after an inconsistent start to the season, winning six of their last eight games. The Lakers are on the other end of the spectrum, losing all of the rhythm they had to their game through the month of December. Injuries and a tough schedule have brought doom and gloom back to the franchise, but a five-game homestand might be enough time for this group to find its spark again.
Hopefully Kuzma’s quad is doing just fine, Lopez’s presence is felt in his first game back, and the Lakers give fans a strong first outing back in Los Angeles for 2018. Enjoy the game!
Time: 7:30 p.m. PT