(Photo By: Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)
Lakers at Thunder: 3 Things to Know (2/4/18)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers’ a.m. start against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
1) B.I. is in facilitator mode
Brandon Ingram was in charge of the offense during Friday’s win over Brooklyn. Shifting into a point forward role, Ingram thrived as the team’s main playmaker, handing out a career-high 10 assists.
Ingram’s passing made a bold move by Luke Walton worth it. The head coach decided to remove Tyler Ennis from the starters, but didn’t replace him with a traditional point guard (like Alex Caruso) or even a combo guard (like Jordan Clarkson).
Instead, Ingram took over, adding 16 points and eight rebounds to his assists total, while committing only two turnovers.
Ingram found a lot of success — for both himself and others — by attacking the hoop, resulting in four and-1 baskets and a handful of drive-and-kick dimes.
And — with Lonzo Ball out for a ninth straight game — he did an excellent job of pushing the pace, even turning possessions after made Brooklyn baskets into pseudo fast-breaks.
Ingram is considered questionable for this game due to right groin tightness, and his availability is crucial to L.A.’s chances.
2) Hart’s patrolling the boards
Another key to the Lakers’ success against the Nets was the hustle of Josh Hart.
The rookie — who started in place of Ennis — put in work on the glass, finishing with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Hart’s boards were also of distinct quality. He saved three possessions with offensive rebounds, and was essential to the Lakers’ run-and-gun game plan on the other side of the ball.
Whenever he grabbed a defensive board, Hart immediately bolted down the court, looking to take advantage of an unsettled defense (or get the ball to someone else who could).
With Ball out, the team’s transition attack is all the more vital. And Hart made sure the Lakers had plenty such opportunities.
3) OKC is always a thorn
The Lakers have lost 12 of their last 13 games against the Thunder, and haven’t won in Oklahoma City since 2011.
And OKC has been playing some of its best ball of the year lately, ranking third in the NBA in scoring since the start of 2018.
Of course, its identity begins with Russell Westbrook, who continues to put up absurd numbers, like his averages of 25.2 points, a league-high 10.3 assists and 9.4 rebounds.
Facing one superstar scorer is tough enough, but the Thunder have two more in Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.
Yet the most difficult matchup may be none of the above.
The bruising Steven Adams always seems to give the Lakers fits with his linebacker-esque play. The center leads the NBA in offensive rebounds (5.3) and is second in screen assists (4.8) — two areas of play that tend to frustrate opponents (and tip games).
Lakers: Brandon Ingram (right groin tightness) is questionable. Lonzo Ball (sore left knee) is out.
Thunder: Andre Roberson (ruptured left patellar tendon) is out.
Tip-Off: 11 a.m. PT
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: Gold Icon
Location: Chesapeake Energy Arena — Oklahoma City, Oklahoma