Only a week ago, the Los Angeles Lakers suffered their worst defeat of this young season, losing 123-115 to the Thunder in Oklahoma City. Sure, it ended as a close game with the Lakers getting more than one opportunity to tie it in the waning moments. However, that summary of the game doesn’t cover the fact that the Lakers held a 26-point lead at one point in the 2nd quarter.
It was the worst defensive performance of the season for the Lakers in a season that’s been full of disappointment on that end so far. The Thunder hadn’t even scored 105 points in a game up to that point of the season, blowing that total out of the water in the win.
Since then, the Lakers have won three games in a row with a couple of impressive games on the defensive end including a 113-101 win over the Cavaliers and a 95-85 win over the Rockets. However, the defense seemed to falter in their most recent game, a 119-117 Lakers win that included 70 first-half points from the Rockets on 58% field-goal shooting.
The team buckled down and provided enough defense in the second half to win (84 points from the Lakers’ Big Three also helps), but will that defense transfer into Thursday’s game against the Thunder? Even if it doesn’t the Lakers should learn from their mistakes last week and keep their foot down on the gas for 48 minutes to send the Thunder home with a loss.
LeBron James doing LeBron James things
One key element of the loss last week against the Thunder was the fact that LeBron James did not play. Now, of course, the team should have found a way to beat one of the worst rosters in the league even without James, but they definitely could have used his presence to stay on course when the Thunder were breaking down the defense in the second half. Kent Bazemore even stated this after the game, saying James “would have kept us even-keeled out there”.
James had his lowest-scoring game of the season on Sunday, following it up with arguably his best game of the season on Tuesday as he tallied 10 assists for the first time this season while also pouring in 30 points on an efficient 13-21 from the field. With Sunday being Halloween, James and everyone else may have had a little too much candy beforehand which led to such a low-scoring game across the board.
If the spacing is as good as it was on against the Rockets, expect James to abuse the equally young Thunder in the paint (11 FGAs in the restricted area on Tuesday) and carry the Lakers to an easy victory.
Notes and Updates
The Lakers’ injury report for tomorrow against OKC:— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) November 4, 2021
— Anthony Davis and Wayne Ellington are probable. This is the first time Ellington has been listed as probable.
— LeBron James and Dwight Howard are questionable.
— Trevor Ariza, Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn are out.
- Kendrick Nunn, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Trevor Ariza will all be out. Wayne Ellington has not made his regular season Lakers debut. However, he will be probable for this game for the first time since the season started as we may finally see him out on the floor.
- Dwight Howard has missed the past couple of games due to neck stiffness, coming into Thursday’s game questionable. LeBron James is also questionable, though he was questionable in both of the past two games that he ended up playing in.
- Around the league, a Chris Haynes report revealed that Damian Lillard met privately with LeBron and AD during this past offseason. Also, our old friend Alex Caruso has to be having a great time with his new team, as the Chicago Bulls are 6-1 and are tied for 1st in the Eastern Conference with the Miami Heat. Check out the most recent episode of “The Anthony Irwin Show” where Taco Trey Kirby discussed how fun it’s been to watch Caruso on the Bulls.