Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder preview

Lakers, looking to extend their winning streak to four games, play Oklahoma City Thunder today

The Lakers (16-41) take a three-game winning streak into their Sunday afternoon battle against a short-handed Oklahoma City Thunder (32-27) squad at Staples Center.

The Thunder will be without Russell Westbrook, who suffered a broken bone in his face on Friday night; Kevin Durant (foot); Steven Adams (hand) and Steve Novak (appendectomy).

Center Enes Kanter (thigh) is also questionable.

Oklahoma City sounds a lot like the Lakers, who will play without Nick Young (knee), Ronnie Price (elbow), Kobe Bryant (shoulder), Julius Randle (knee) and Steve Nash (back),

Key matchup

Given the sparse roster, the Thunder will presumably rely heavily on guards D.J. Augustin and Dion Waiters.

Augustin, who was recently acquired from the Detroit Pistons for Reggie Jackson, can both score and create shots for his teammates.

Through 59 games this season, he's averaging 10.4 points and 4.8 assists, while shooting 40.6% from the field and 32.9% from three-point range.

Waiters was picked up earlier in the year from the Cleveland Cavaliers. He's at 10.8 points a season, shooting 39.1% and 27.6%, respectively.

Neither is a serious outside threat.

The Lakers have gotten some of their best guard-play of the season in recent games, from Jordan Clarkson, Jeremy Lin and Wayne Ellington.

X-factor

The Thunder still have forward Serge Ibaka, who is both a high-level defender and capable scorer.

Ibaka is averaging 14.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a game.

Center Mitch McGary is another player to keep an eye on. He's given the Thunder some big games this season.

The Lakers rely on a number of players inside, including Carlos Boozer, Robert Sacre, Ed Davis, Jordan Hill and Tarik Black.

Since moving Boozer back into to the starting lineup, the Lakers are undefeated.

Outlook

The Thunder coming into Staples Center should have been an easy call, but the Lakers are playing their best ball of the season of late and Oklahoma City is decimated by injury.

The original prediction was the Thunder, but the Lakers should be able to take their fourth straight.

Email Eric Pincus at Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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