Where They At: Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder just had their 6-game winning streak broken in Cleveland, dropping below .500 on the road and failing to pick up a rare statement win. Just 4 of their 17 wins have come against teams currently above .500, and they’ve lost 6 against winning teams. While I wasn’t surprised at their loss to the Cavaliers, Anthony Morrow’s absence meant that we didn’t get to see whether Billy Donavan would toss out his emergency small-ball unit when down to a tough team. Instead, Kyle Singler rose from the ashes to play meaningful minutes and have a non-disaster of a game. Singler actually played more than Morrow has in all but one of his last seven appearances, spending a chunk of time guarding LeBron James decently and the rest of his time staying out of the way.
Morrow is questionable again tonight (undisclosed personal matter), and I think Singler could wrestle his way back into the rotation with even an average performance. Donavan has had nothing but patience for the Dukie playing like dookie, while keeping Morrow well below his career average in minutes. Keep an eye on this situation.
Where They At: Los Angeles Lakers
I spent a lot of time on the Morrow/Singler battle for the 8th or 9th spot in the rotation because it’s a more intriguing battle than what the 4-22 Lakers figure to present. Kobe Bryant’s retirement tour has been fairly embarrassing, and the befuddling statements and decisions coming from coach Byron Scott have led many to wonder if the Lakers are stealth tanking this season to hang onto their draft pick (top-3 protected).
Whether it was intentional or not, the Scott-as-Kobe-babysitter/enabler dynamic has played out just as poorly as you could expect, and the young talent on the roster is less than enthusiastic about how the baton is being passed. The team slogs through offense, and gets eaten alive on defense worse than anyone else besides the Pelicans. Kobe has been shooting much better of late, and Julius Randle has played well off the bench, but it hasn't mattered much: they stink.
The Thunder, obviously, should win this game. Comfy home games and puny opponents have been the formula for their successes this season, and the Lakers matchup meets both criteria.
Prediction: Thunder 120 Lakers 103
|2015-16 NBA Season Game #27|
|December 19th, 2015|
|Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City|
|4 PM Central Standard Time|
|TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma, Time Warner Cable SportsNet, NBA League Pass|
|Injury Report: Anthony Morrow (Questionable)|
|This Season's Matchups: XXXX|
|Jordan Clarkson||PG||Russell Westbrook|
|Louis Williams||SG||Andre Roberson|
|Kobe Bryant||SF||Kevin Durant|
|Larry Nance Jr.||PF||Serge Ibaka|
|Roy Hibbert||C||Steven Adams|