Thursday afternoon is the final game of the Los Angeles Lakers’ four-game road trip, but it comes at the expense of being on the second night of a back-to-back against a young, but competitive Oklahoma City Thunder team.
The Lakers come into the finale with a 2-1 record on the trip and looking to pick up an impressive win to close out the roadie. L.A. handled the struggling Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, handing them their 15th straight loss, winning easily by a score of 133-107.
Oklahoma City is currently on a two-game losing streak, dropping games to the Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves, so the Lakers can expect a determined Thunder team trying to get back on track. With the Thunder currently sitting at 11-6 and 5-4 at home, there is a chance for the Lakers to pick up a high-quality win against a seemingly playoff-contending team.
Injuries have hammered the purple and gold and it hasn’t been any better as more players have found themselves on the injury report. Four players were listed as questionable: Max Christie with a left calf contusion, Jaxson Hayes with left elbow soreness, LeBron James dealing with a left calf contusion as well and Cam Reddish, who made his return on Wednesday, with right groin soreness.
Thankfully, James and Christie are suiting up for Thursday’s game and are all needed especially against a highly talented Thunder team. However, Reddish and Hayes were ruled out so it is another shorthanded night for L.A. Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt and Gabe Vincent also remain out although the hope is they will be able to make a return sooner rather than later.
Anthony Davis was listed as probable as he continues to power through his left adductor injury and will give it a go on the second night of a back-to-back.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leads the charge for the Thunder by averaging 30.5 points and 6.1 assists, while rookie Chet Holmgren is at an impressive 17.9 points and eight rebounds. Lastly, Jalen Williams averages 17 points, four rebounds and 3.6 assists. The Thunder have explosive offensive that averages 118.6 points, yet another massive task for the Lakers to keep in check.
Not to mention Josh Giddey, who can do it all on the court, sharpshooter Isaiah Joe, 3-and-D wing Lu Dort and defensive-minded rookie guard Cason Wallace. There are a lot of variables that L.A. has to keep in check, specifically from distance as Oklahoma City is the best 3-point shooting in the league at 40.3%.
It’ll be intriguing to see how head coach Darvin Ham gameplans for Gilgeous-Alexander. If he tries to make him into a passer and let the other guys beat them, or if they don’t double and make the young Thunder guard beat them with his jumpshot. Regardless, it is not going to be easy and to close out the road trip with a win of this magnitude would certainly be impressive.
Los Angeles Lakers (11-8) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (11-6)
5:00 p.m. PT, Nov. 30, 2023
Paycom Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Max Christie
SF: Taurean Prince
PF: LeBron James
C: Anthony Davis
Key Reserves: Austin Reaves, Christian Wood, Jalen Hood-Schifino
Projected Thunder starting lineup:
PG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
SG: Josh Giddey
SF: Lu Dort
PF: Jalen Williams
C: Chet Holmgren
Key Reserves: Isaiah Joe, Cason Wallace, Kenrich Williams, Aaron Wiggins
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