Game 65 Preview: Lakers vs. Thunder


Mar 9, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers point guard Jordan Farmar (1) drives against Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Reggie Jackson (15) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Four days ago in an inspired performance the Lakers shocked the Thunder by staging a comeback after they trailed by almost 20 points although the Thunder had chances late to even the score. The vicotry was the highlight of the Lakers lowlight of a season especially for Jodie Meeks who put in 42 points. Simply put, Jodie has been the Lakers hardest worker, the last one to complain and the most consistent performer. Jodie plays hard regardless of the situation because, well, he is being paid to play hard. Go figure. After the Lakers officially ruled Kobe out for the rest of the season, Meeks and the rest of the shooting guards can exhale. Kobe will not be eating their minutes which will allow them to showcase what they can do or not do for the rest of the NBA. Expect the small lineup D’antoni is married to, so no Jordan Hill or Chris Kaman. Also expect Russell Westbrook to be prepared for Jodie Meeks and for him to have a monster game. When Russ is engaged no one can stop him; he is too explosive. He of all people will want revenge.

The Lakers have had a few days off to rest so the normal fatigue this time of year should not be a problem. But their efficiency in the game rests upon their ability to make three point shots. If they can’t, prepare for a blowout. Pau will give you his normal double-double but the rest of the lineup is unpredictable. Bazemore will come off the bench since D’antoni likes Wes Johnson on Durant. Durant too will want to atone for his Sunday performance. Yes he had a triple double but for much of the game he had no impact. Because Kendall Marshall is a defensive liability Meeks will cover Westbrook and Marshall will guard Reggie Jackson or Jeremy Lamb. One of the keys for the Lakers is Jordan Farmar. When he plays well the rest of the team follows his lead.

It’s hard to tell what Mike D’antoni’s mindset is these days. Magic Johnson was on the attack once again. Kobe let known his disaffection. Pau has been in an ongoing feud. Sometimes D’antoni looks exhausted from everything that has happened this season. Even though some of it has been arbitrary. And a lot of it has been his fault. Add D’antoni to the list: outsiders who never quite understood the Lakers history and the consequences from fans and former players if you don’t go all in. From the beginning D’antoni was in a lose-lose situation.

As for the game against Oklahoma City, it is the first game of a tough back to back with the Lakers trying to salvage these last 18 games by playing hard, playing as a team and padding their individual resumes. Most of them will need it. And yet look for them to give Oklahoma City good effort in the first half but by the third quarter the Durant/Westbrook combo will be too much talent. OKC wins big.