Coming off a nice win over the Brooklyn Nets that saw Brandon Ingram dish out a career high in assists, Josh Hart come up big behind the arc and on the glass, and the Julius Randle/Larry Nance/Brook Lopez frontcourt trio all impact the game in key was, the Lakers head into the final game of their 5-game road trip 2-2.
Considering the opponents on this trip, 2-2 is about what could be expected at this point. (The loss against the Magic was bad, but the win over the Celtics balances that out. I think splitting the Raptors/Bulls games was to be expected.) I think what can also be expected is for the Lakers to end this road trip 2-3.
In the two previous games vs. the Thunder, the Lakers have been handed their hats. A 37 point drubbing at Staples was followed up by a 24 point butt kicking in OKC exactly 2 weeks later last month. While the hope is that the Lakers compete better than they did in those first two games, I believe a certain amount of those previous results is due to LA simply not matching up well with the Thunder.
In Westbrook, they have the type of dynamic guard who threatens the paint consistently in both the half court and in transition. In George they have the type of two way wing who can not only take advantage of the Lakers deficiency of defending the arc (especially when paired with a potent P&R attack), but who defends Brandon Ingram extremely well. And in Steven Adams they have a brutish big man who has the ability to defend Brook Lopez all over the floor and has the size/strength to give Randle real problems when LA goes small.
This doesn’t excuse the Lakers poor effort in the earlier games they’ve played vs. this team, but it does help explain the results. And, honestly, if the Lakers were blown out again this game, I wouldn’t be surprised. When you combine the matchup issues highlighted above, the fact that Lonzo will not play again, that Ingram is questionable, and this being the final game of the road trip (and an early start time), the formula is there for another bad loss.
So, this is what I expect. Sorry if you were looking for a bit of optimism this morning. I just don’t see it. I just hope the team competes hard and does more than just go through the motions. If they do that, I can live with the results. Let’s see how this goes.
Where you can watch: 11am start time on ABC.