Lakers get a third try against the dominating Oklahoma City Thunder

Lakers get a third try against the dominating Oklahoma City Thunder
Lakers guardKobe Bryant protects the ball from Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant during a game at Staples Center on Dec. 23, 2015. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The Lakers will get their third try at the Oklahoma City Thunder (25-11) on Friday night, a team that beat the Lakers twice last month, by an average of 37.5 points.

Kobe Bryant (shoulder) and D'Angelo Russell (ankle) may be game-time decisions as the Lakers play their second game in as many nights after falling on Thursday to the Kings in Sacramento.


Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to play after sitting recently with a toe injury.

Key matchup

The Thunder dominates teams by virtue of its top two stars, guard Russell Westbrook and Durant.

The Lakers did not fare well against the duo in December, allowing Westbrook to average 18 points and 9.5 assists a game.  Durant scored 21.5 with 7.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists.

Those numbers may be below their season averages, but the Thunder blowouts meant light minutes for Westbrook and Durant.

The Lakers can try to slow Westbrook with Jordan Clarkson, but that's a lot to ask of the Lakers second-year guard.  Bryant guarded Durant in the Lakers' second game against the Thunder, but rookie Anthony Brown drew the assignment in the first.  Neither had much success.


Although the Thunder relies heavily on its two primary scorers, the team also has a number of capable role players like Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, Anthony Roberson and Dion Waiters.  Focus too much attention on Durant or Westbrook, and Oklahoma City has the help to make teams pay.

The Lakers are clearly less successful as a team, but can get big nights from Lou Williams, Julius Randle and, if he plays, Russell.  If he cannot, the team will likely turn to Marcelo Huertas, who may struggle against the athleticism on the Thunder.

Bryant had sat out with a sore shoulder until Thursday's visit to the Kings.  If both he and Russell are out, the Lakers may be at a serious disadvantage against a team that has already destroyed them twice this season.


Anything but a Thunder win would be shocking.

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