The Los Angeles Lakers are hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center in an opportunity to avenge last week’s humiliating loss to their Western Conference rivals.
Having won two straight games to move up to 2-2, the tides seemed to have turned for L.A. as it approached the clash with Oklahoma City away from home on Oct. 27. The sentiment prevailed after the first quarter with the Lakers outscoring the hosts 41-19, eventually extending their lead to game-high 26 points.
But then memorably, Los Angeles suffered a spectacular collapse started off by the crumbling of its vulnerable defense.
The victory remains the Thunder’s sole one, which should further motivate the Lakers to take their revenge. However, they will have to seek it without LeBron James, who is out for a week with an abdominal strain.
James’ absence hurts considering the 36-year-old All-Star’s brilliant form to start the 2021-22 season. It also comes right after L.A.’s Big 3 registered its best performance of the season, with James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook each scoring at least 27 points in the recent victory over the Houston Rockets.
While Avery Bradley will likely take James’ spot in the starting lineup, Carmelo Anthony could take on a fair share of offensive responsibilities, aiming to put in another fine display from the bench. Anthony is averaging 16.5 points, shooting 51.6% from the field and 52.9% from beyond the arc.
The 37-year-old forward has a good chance to further improve his stunning numbers against the Thunder, who gift their rivals the second-most 3-point attempts (42.4) in the NBA, conceding 15.6 of them — also second-most in the league.
Expect Westbrook and Davis to focus on aggressive drives into the paint throughout the game. The Thunder give up 23.8 free throw attempts (29th in the NBA), which should encourage the two All-Stars to exert extra pressure on Oklahoma City’s interior defense.
Recent performances allowed the Lakers to cede their place among the league’s worst defenses, now ranking 17th with a defensive rating of 107.3. Coupled with the Thunder owning the second-worst offense (with an offensive rating of 96.7), L.A. cannot allow its defense to collapse against Oklahoma City again.
Wayne Ellington could make his season debut as the 33-year-old guard — and Dwight Howard, recently struggling with neck stiffness — were probable to feature in the game. With Howard back in the fold, DeAndre Jordan could return to the starting lineup, partnering Davis in the frontcourt.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and his Thunder teammates managed to halt the Lakers’ momentum last week, putting an end to their modest two-game winning streak. L.A. will surely be hoping that second, not third, time’s a charm and that it will beat Oklahoma City this time around, extending their current run to four straight victories.
Lakers (5-3) vs. Thunder (1-6)
7:30 p.m. PT, November 4, 2021
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Kent Bazemore
PF: Anthony Davis
C: DeAndre Jordan
Key Reserves: Carmelo Anthony, Malik Monk, Dwight Howard, Austin Reaves, Wayne Ellington
Projected Thunder Starting Lineup:
PG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
SG: Josh Giddey
SF: Lu Dort
PF: Darius Bazley
C: Derrick Favors
Key Reserves: Aleksej Pokusevski, Mike Muscala, Theo Maledon, Kenrich Williams
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!