Lakers at Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder have plenty of offensive firepower with Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook, but it’s their work on the defensive end that is carrying the team of late. The Thunder will try to hold their third straight opponent under 92 points and pick up a third consecutive win when they host the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
Oklahoma City didn’t have the best of luck with the referees on Monday and Westbrook was ejected late, but they managed to hold the Sacramento Kings to 36 second-half points in a 95-88 victory. “We buckled down defensively,” Anthony told reporters. “We made an adjustment. We started switching in the second half, keeping a body on a body. We started to tighten up on the pin downs and the curls and the communication was very high tonight in the second half.” The Lakers are battling through injuries to two of their key young players and had a four-game winning streak come to an end with a 123-114 loss in Memphis on Monday. “We weren’t physically, mentally ready to match what Memphis brought tonight,” Los Angeles coach Luke Walton told reporters after the loss. “And that’s disappointing because that doesn’t have to do with anything but the toughness to be engaged in a fight. … We let them kind of punk us all over the floor.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles), FS Oklahoma
ABOUT THE LAKERS (15-28): Small forward Brandon Ingram (ankle) and point guard Lonzo Ball (knee) both sat out Monday, but at least Ingram plans to be back on the court Wednesday. Ingram, who is averaging 16.1 points on the season and is shooting 61.4 percent from the floor in his last five games, practiced with the team on Tuesday and is probable for Wednesday while Ball is questionable. “He got treatment,” Walton told reporters of Ball on Tuesday. “He’ll get treatment again later today, but it’s still just too sore for him to get on the basketball court. Technically, he’s questionable. But he didn’t practice today, so I wouldn’t expect him to play (Wednesday).”
ABOUT THE THUNDER (24-20): Westbrook is just off his triple-double pace from last season while averaging 25 points, 9.9 assists and 9.8 rebounds and had a shot at a triple-double on Monday before being ejected. The star guard went for a layup and was hit in the face by one player and knocked in the body by another, but was called for traveling when he came down with the ball, exacerbating the tension that continues between referees and players this season. “I’m done with them,” Anthony told reporters of the officials. “I’m done with the refs. No disrespect, but I’m done with those guys.”
1. Lakers PF Larry Nance Jr., who collected 15 points and 11 rebounds on Monday, is questionable with a hip injury.
2. Thunder C Steven Adams recorded a double-double in each of the last two games after going eight straight games without securing double-digit rebounds.
3. Oklahoma City went into Los Angeles on Jan. 3 and dominated in a 133-96 victory while shooting 60.2 percent from the floor.