(Anna Lupean/Los Angeles Lakers)
Lakers vs. Thunder: 3 Things to Know (11/19/19)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers finish their homestand against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
1) Lakers keep throwing themselves block parties
Attacking the paint is an unsavory proposition for opponents of the Lakers this season. The Atlanta Hawks can attest to that, as the purple and gold swatted them 14 times in Sunday’s victory — the Lakers’ most blocks in 17 years.
Anthony Davis — who leads the NBA in rejections (3.17 per game) — was at the heart of this defense, sending back five shots from Atlanta. Dwight Howard (10th in the league at 1.62) mixed in three swats of his own.
It’s no surprise that the Lakers lead the league in stuffs with 7.8 a night — a whole block-and-a-half more than any other team. With the paint locked down, everything else has fallen into place, with L.A. also boasting an NBA-best 99.9 defensive rating.
2) Kuz Control in the streak
The Lakers have reeled off four straight wins, and Kyle Kuzma has been a huge part of that success.
During this surge, he has averaged 18.8 points and 3.0 three-pointers, while hitting toasty percentages both from the field (51.0) and beyond the arc (48.0). And while Kuzma has been splashing from deep, especially on spot-up attempts, he has been just as impressive in the paint where he finishes fast-breaks and gets to show off his craftiness in the half-court.
After a slow start preceded by missing four games and the entire preseason due to a stress reaction in his foot, Kuzma has really found his stride of late. Look for him to play a big part for the Lakers to capture victory and a second straight homestand sweep.
King Kuz. All day. pic.twitter.com/dNsKcx5QAY— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 18, 2019
3) Thunder looking for a bounce-back
Oklahoma City is on the second night of a back-to-back, but they didn’t have to worry about traveling anywhere. The Thunder took the Clippers to the wire before falling late in a 90-88 defensive showcase.
Defense is where they hang their hat, and they’ve been especially successful at clamping down on opposing 3-pointers and fast-breaks. Their success isn’t surprising considering they have defensive stalwarts like Steven Adams and future Hall of Famer Chris Paul (who is fifth in steals).
Offensively, OKC is led by sophomore stud Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is nearly averaging 20 points per game. The 21-year-old is already as crafty as they come (like Paul), and has been gashing opponents with his change-of-pace drives.
Lakers: Anthony Davis (sore right shoulder) is probable. Avery Bradley (hairline fracture, right leg), Talen Horton-Tucker (G League), Zach Norvell Jr. (G League), Kostas Antetokounmpo (G League) and DeMarcus Cousins (rehabilitation, right knee) are out.
Thunder: Hamidou Diallo (left knee sprain) is questionable. Andre Roberson (injury recovery; left knee) is out.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet locally, NBA TV nationally
Radio: 710 ESPN & 1330 KWKW
Unis: Gold Icon
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California
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