The Los Angeles Lakers will take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in search of their eighth straight win while looking to move to 5-0 when on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Lakers took care of business in the first night of this back-to-back, handling the Dallas Mavericks with ease by winning 129-114 while never letting them within 10 for the final three quarters. LeBron James played a remarkable game, but he will not play against the Thunder due to a cold.
Davis missed the Mavericks win with a bruised tailbone and will also not play against the Thunder after taking a nasty fall in the team’s win over the New York Knicks. Kyle Kuzma was great in his place with 26 points and six rebounds.
The Lakers have already played and beaten the Thunder twice this season. However, this Thunder team has improved dramatically as the season has gone on and it’s in no small part due to the play of Chris Paul. The Thunder are 11-2 in their last 13 games and it’s vaulted them all the way to No. 7 in the Western Conference.
Paul has very much embraced this leadership role with a non-contending team, putting up solid numbers across the board while allowing for players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to flourish around him.
The Thunder will only be without Nerlens Noel for this game as he is out with an ankle injury. Otherwise, the Thunder will be at full health and will be a tough out for this Lakers team, especially with James and Davis out. Everyone on the Lakers will need to play some of their best basketball for a chance to win as the Thunder do not bail teams out very often recently.
Where the Thunder excel as a team is defensively. They rank in the top-10 in the NBA in defensive rating, but really struggle to put the ball in the basket, ranking in the bottom-10. The Lakers will need Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Alex Caruso to have good defensive games in order to stifle Paul and Gilgeous-Alexander and subsequently shut down the Thunder offense.
Los Angeles Lakers (31-7) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (22-16)
5:00 P.M. PT, Jan. 11, 2020
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN), 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Dwight Howard, Alex Caruso, Jared Dudley
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
SF: Terrance Ferguson
PF: Danilo Gallinari
C: Steven Adams
Key Reserves: Dennis Schroder, Hamidou Diallo, Mike Muscala