In the wake of the Lakers trade with the Cavs that saw Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance depart for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a 1st round pick, the team still has a game to play tonight. They’ll be shorthanded against the Thunder, missing those two rotation players and key guys to the team’s recent 11-4 surge.
So, more than anything else, I wonder how this team plays tonight from an effort standpoint and how, at least for this game, a rotation one. Luke Walton stated the team may play Kyle Kuzma at SF for stretches, an indication of losing a key wing player in Clarkson. Expect more minutes from Hart and KCP to compensate here too, but we may also see Corey Brewer find his way back to the rotation — especially since Brandon Ingram will still be playing some point guard with Lonzo Ball out.
I’d talk more about the Thunder and what the Lakers have to do to win, but honestly all of that is secondary at this moment. The Lakers won the last meeting between these two teams, a slugfest that saw Julius Randle, Brook Lopez, and the recently departed Nance make a huge impact on both backboards and with physicality in the paint on both ends of the floor. Missing Nance, then, matters here and Randle/Lopez will need to pick up the slack.
As for OKC, they’re coming off a strong win against the Warriors that saw them dominate the West’s best team for the 2nd time this year. It remains to be seen if the Thunder have any sort of hangover or letdown after that win, but I’d imagine the recent loss to this Lakers squad would snap them out of that even if things were leaning that way. We shall see.
Beyond this, though, I care less about this individual game than I typically would. The Lakers are in a bit of a transition, losing key players and still waiting on reinforcements to arrive. I simply hope the team plays hard and maintains a semblance of the style they’d shown before the trade deadline — defense oriented and with a penchant for pushing the pace and sharing the ball offensively.
If they can do those things, I’ll be happy, score be damned. Let’s go.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TNT.