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Lakers vs. Thunder Preview: The ultimate trap game

Can the Lakers conclude their road trip with a quality victory against a thriving OKC team on the road?

Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Lakers bounced back big time with a 26-point victory against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday. They will travel back west as they take on a surging Oklahoma City Thunder team on Thursday. This will be L.A.’s fourth game on a back-to-back this season where they have a 1-2 record so far.

Start time and TV schedule

Who: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

When: 5 p.m. PT, Nov. 30

Where: Paycom Center

Watch: Spectrum Sportsnet

Nothing says trap game more than playing on the second night of a back-to-back and for the fourth time in a span of six days against a young and thriving Thunder squad.

Given how the Lakers have performed on the back end of back-to-backs this season versus teams with an above-average offense, this almost feels like a scheduled loss once again. But it’s games like Wednesday’s commanding victory over the Detroit Pistons that always make it seem like this team can compete with anyone on any given night.

On Thursday night though, the Lakers will go up against a rising superstar in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is currently averaging the fourth most points in the league (30.5) and has led his team to being one of the few ones with a current top 10 ranked offense and defense.

This Thunder team is also one of the few ones that seem like a complete squad from top to bottom. From Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams in the front court followed by Lu Dort and Josh Giddey in the forward and guard spots respectively, this squad is currently the best 3-point shooting (40.3%) team in the league. Their 3-point shooting is a big reason why they’re ranked sixth in points per game (118.6).

So in short, if the Lakers come out lethargically and if their defense doesn’t show up in this one, then this game might just be over as early as the first quarter.

And speaking of defense, it’s going to be interesting to see how Darvin Ham game plans for this one. What type of coverage is he going to employ against SGA and will the Lakers’ perimeter defense be able to hold up? How are they going to keep up against OKC’s well-balanced and high-paced offense? This Thunder team matches up really well against the purple and gold so L.A. needs plenty of firepower to keep up offensively.

If D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Davis carry over their performance from Wednesday night in this one then that would be great. If the Lakers find themselves struggling from the three-point line again, it would be nice if they find ways to dominate inside the paint instead, like how they scored 58 points in the interior against the Pistons. Ultimately though, it’s going to be their defense that will determine whether or not they’ll put up a fight versus OKC.

Let’s see if the Lakers can conclude their current road trip the way they started it with a quality victory against a surging Thunder team on Thursday.

Notes and Updates:

  • The Lakers haven’t release an injury report as they normally don’t on the first night of back-to-backs but expect Jarred Vanderbilt (left heel bursitis), Gabe Vincent (left knee effusion) and Rui Hachimura (nasal fracture) to be out again. It also won’t be a surprise if Jaxson Hayes, who left Wednesday’s game due to a sore elbow, appears on report Thursday afternoon as well.
  • Before Wednesday’s game, Anthony Davis (left adductor/hip spasm) and Cam Reddish (left adductor soreness) were listed as probable while LeBron James (left calf contusion) was questionable. Three of them ended up suiting up so there’s a good chance they do so again versus OKC.
  • As for the Thunder, nobody is currently listed on their injury report — something that has yet to apply to the Lakers this season.

You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani

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