The Los Angeles Lakers have begun to find their identity on the defensive end and look to continue their road dominance when they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder for the first time during the 2020-21 season.
The Lakers can improve to 7-0 on the road to begin the season, which would be a new franchise record for the best start away from home.
Much like last season, the Thunder is overachieving with a roster that was widely expected to be going through a rebuild. Oklahoma City is 5-5 through 10 games and are currently within a half-game of the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings.
This will be the second night of a back-to-back set for Los Angeles, but fortunately they should be well-rested after blowing out the Houston Rockets for the second consecutive game. No Laker player logged more than 30 minutes against the Rockets, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis only seeing 29 minutes of action.
Davis did jam his left big toe, which required an X-ray that did come back negative. Davis was dealing with some swelling, but Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said he and James were on track to play.
Since Davis voiced his displeasure with the team’s defensive effort, L.A. has ramped up their effort on that end and the results have been encouraging. Davis in particular looks like he is rounding into form as he has been a terror in the paint, evidenced by the five blocks he recorded against the Rockets.
Although the Lakers are rolling, they can not let their guard down against a young Thunder team that has talented players in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Darius Bazley. George Hill and Al Horford have also provided some stability, but assuming the Lakers continue to play like they have the past week then they should be able to come away with the win.
Wesley Matthews (right Achilles soreness) remains out Wednesday. He underwent an MRI that did not reveal anything significant but the team has elected to err on the side of caution.
Lakers (9-3) vs. Thunder (3-5)
5:00 p.m. PT, Jan. 13, 2021
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers starting lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Dennis Schroder
SF: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
PF: Anthony Davis
C: Marc Gasol
Key Reserves: Montrezl Harrell, Alex Caruso, Wesley Matthews, Kyle Kuzma, Talen Horton-Tucker, Markieff Morris
Projected Thunder starting lineup:
PG: George Hill
SG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
SF: Luguentz Dort
PF: Darius Bazley
C: Al Horford
Key Reserves: Hamoidou Diallo, Theo Maledon, Mike Muscala, Aleksej Pokusevski
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