Lakers Up Next for OKC
Date: Nov. 19, 2019
Tip-Off Time: 9:30 p.m. CT
Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: 98.1 FM WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
Game Day Video Report
Thunder StatusThe word heartbreaking doesn’t do justice to the Thunder loss on Monday night inside Staples Center to the LA Clippers, who knocked down a 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining and came up with a stop to seal the game. After a quick night of sleep, the Thunder will pick itself right back off the mat and get ready for Los Angeles’ other team – the Lakers. On this unique road-road, back-to-back in the same city, the mental fortitude and physical stamina of the Thunder will be tested.
“We gotta come out and be aggressive, be ready,” Thunder guard Chris Paul said. “Two sort of different environments. The lighting’s different, everything’s a little different. It’s cool. Let this one go, get ready for tomorrow.”
Opponent BreakdownThe Lakers (11-2) are currently the best team in the West and tied for the best record in the league thanks to incredible yet unsurprising productivity from LeBron James and Anthony Davis in addition to sharpshooting from Danny Green and solid contributions from other role players.
James is averaging 24.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and a career-best 11.2 assists per game with Davis racking up 24.5 points and 9.2 rebounds with a sensational 3.2 blocks per contest. The Lakers are putting it to opponents by bullying them inside, scoring 53.7 points per game in the paint, the second most in the NBA.
“We’ve just gotta bounce back and move forward and get ready to play again,” Thunder Head Coach Billy Donovan said. “It’s a quick turnaround. There’s a lot to get prepared for.”
Matchup FocusOn Monday night, guard Terrance Ferguson was phenomenal on the defensive end of the floor, blanketing Paul George and Lou Williams for most of the game and doing so without racking up major foul trouble. Ferguson will likely get both James and Green as assignments during portions of the game, and the two players couldn’t be more dissimilar in style.
“T-Ferg is obviously a really good defender, one of our best,” Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said.
James is a handful physically to say the least. Ferguson will need built-in help from the other four players on the floor to keep James out of the lane all night long. In other scenarios, Ferguson will be on Green, a quick-cutting, spot-up shooter who will flare out to the wing or dart to the corner for a 3-pointer. Ferguson will have to be vigilant, physically relentless and controlled mentally to withstand the challenges his assignments pose.
Stat to WatchBoth the Thunder and Lakers are in the middle of the pack in terms of bench scoring, but both teams have players who are providing a high-level punch from the reserve group. Dennis Schröder ranks 6th in minutes off the bench, 12th in assists and 13th in points for a reserve. Nerlens Noel is averaging 5.2 points on 62.1-percent shooting, but is also averaging 2.4 “stocks” (steals plus blocks) per game, third most in the NBA off the bench.
Thunder TrendAfter the loss to the Clippers, the Thunder now has five losses by five or fewer points this season, the most in the NBA. While there are no moral victories and the Thunder is itching to win these tight games instead of dropping them, these situations will be very beneficial to the group down the line. For youngsters like Gilgeous-Alexander, learning how to finish off victories in crunch time is an acquired skill, and one he’s excited to try again tonight.
“I’m good with it,” Gilgeous-Alexander said of the challenge of facing the Clippers and Lakers back-to-back. “I get to play basketball two days in a row.”
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