The Oklahoma City Thunder leave the friendly confines of Chesapeake Energy Arena and head west after a hot 2 and 0 start to a 4-game home stand fizzled out with back-to-back losses. The Los Angeles Lakers, a team that’s giving up an average of 117.2 pts in their current 7-game losing streak, may help cure what ails the Thunder or, as recent history tells us, OKC may serve as the antidote for whatever is troubling the Lakers. We’ll find out Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. cst.
That may seem a pessimistic view, not to mention non-committal, of a team sitting at the #5 spot in the West vs future lottery fodder, but for whatever reason, and they have been legion, no matter how talented the Thunder appear on paper, they have managed to drop some of the most head-scratching losses to some of the worst teams in the league this season.
Beat the defending champion Golden State Warriors one night, lose to Detroit two nights later. Dispatch the top team in the West, then the top team in the East, only to lose to a team struggling to stay in the playoff picture and then drop a second game of the season to a lottery-bound Dallas squad.
Earlier on, the primary problem was the offense and their identity crisis while 3 All-Stars tried to “figure things out”. Now the defense, the one thing the Thunder hung their hats on for the first 20 games or so that is unraveling. During the recent home-stand, the Thunder gave up 31, 38, 38, and 35 points in the first quarter. The third quarter offensive meltdowns from the past have become the “Free Lay-up on Every Other Possession Holiday Giveaway Bonanza”.
The good news is that the Thunder have proven they can beat anyone in this league when they put their minds to it, but the sad truth is that they have turned playing down to the level of their opponent into an art form and that makes the Lakers a very dangerous team no matter how bad their record is.
Andre Roberson, a scratch in the Thunder’s last two outings, is still nursing patellar tendonitis and will miss the Laker’s game as well as the Thunder’s two remaining games on this road trip. At this juncture, it is unclear whether Roberson will be ready to go when the Thunder return home in a week so it is incumbent that the Thunder find someone to fill the defensive void for the foreseeable future.
Starting Alex Abrines or Josh Huestis hasn’t stemmed the 1st quarter defensive hemorrhaging, give the rook, Terrance Ferguson a shot. He certainly gave his former team, the Adelaide 36’ers, a shot in the arm when he got in the starting rotation.
The Lakers injury report lists Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Brook Lopez as questionable. Rotoworld lists Ball and Lopez cleared to practice but still says they are questionable for Wednesday’s game and reports that Kuzma says he is questionable with sore right quadriceps.
The Lakers are a future lottery team on a six-game losing streak with a defense that hasn’t stopped anyone since Ball went down and an injury report that a virtual who's who of their normal rotation. After adding that all up, be afraid Thunder Nation, be very afraid.
Who do you think will win tonight?
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