2012-2013 Game 45 Preview: Thunder See Fully Stocked Lakers on ABC

Thabeet's enjoyed his trip out West. - William Bennett Berry

Despite the Lakers unremarkable record and continued struggles, it seems that everywhere you turn, you're bashed by Laker news. But tonight, for the first time, they will be facing the Thunder at near-full strength.

2012-2013 NBA Season
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The Oklahoma City Thunder (34-10)
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The Los Angeles Lakers (18-25)
January 27th, 2013
The Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
2:30 PM CST
American Broadcasting Company Only
WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1), 710 ESPN Los Angeles
Enemy Blogs: Silver Screen and Roll, Laker Nation, Purple and Gold Blog, Laker Liker, With Malice
Previous Meetings: Dec 7th, Jan 11th (Thunder Lead Season Series 2-0)
Injury Report: Jordan Hill (Out), Steve Blake (Out).
Probable Starters
Russell Westbrook PG Steve Nash
Thabo Sefolosha SG Kobe Bryant
Kevin Durant SF Metta World Peace
Serge Ibaka PF Earl Clark
Kendrick Perkins C Dwight Howard

Despite the Lakers unremarkable record and continued struggles, it seems that everywhere you turn, you're bashed by Laker news. If you've followed them, a task which is impossible to avoid, you'll know that the Lakers lost 4 straight games, had lots of drama in the locker room, and made Kobe wonder what was going on. Pau Gasol was benched for Robert Sacre, and Mike D'Antoni wasn't fired. All in all, the team is just one huge disaster.

But tonight, for the first time, they will be facing the Thunder at near-full strength. Aside from the injured Jordan Hill and Steve Blake, the entire cast of characters will be there. Kobe seems to have taken a new liking to distributing the ball around to the team's scorers, and it was rather effective on Friday in a victory over the Jazz.

The previous matchups between these two teams have been all over the place. The Lakers have never been able to develop a clear identity or perform consistently, so it's hard to determine how well they're going to do on any given night. The first game featured a terrible performance by the Laker bench that ended up putting them in a hole, along with some atrocious defense. The second game saw a fast paced battle in which the Lakers shot terribly and couldn't find any offense on their short-handed roster.

Tonight, I have a feeling the Lakers are going to push this one to the wire. If Pau Gasol truly has his confidence back, and Kobe Bryant is truly willing to dish the ball under pressure, then this team might actually be able to get something going. The Thunder are built to overcome a Gasol-Howard tandem, but if the Lakers mix it up with some jumpers from Clark and Jamison, they'll be able to score well down low. The Kobe-Sefolosha and World Peace-Durant matchups should provide a lot of excitement, and it'll be nice to see the contrast of styles between Westbrook and Nash. If these teams are both churning at full speed, it's easy to see how they're evenly matched. But the Lakers rarely do, and I just don't see them pulling this one out when it matters.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 109, Los Angeles Lakers 107.

If you are looking for tickets to upcoming games, you can find Oklahoma City Thunder tickets here.

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