Well, it’s a quick turnaround for the Los Angeles Lakers. They just had a game on Tuesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, where they took an L after turning the ball over 26 times. On Wednesday night, they face the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Last time the Lakers faced the Thunder, it was a huge event as LeBron James became the all-time leading scorer in the NBA. This would be a good trivia question at some point. Of course, the Lakers won’t have LeBron James for the next few weeks so that’s bad news for them.
The Thunder have some bad news, too. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who had already been dealing with a multitude of injuries, was placed in health and safety protocols on Tuesday. It makes it doubtful that he’s going to play on Wednesday. And the Thunder themselves are coming off a game on Tuesday; they lost to the Sacramento Kings that night.
Still, the Thunder have talented players outside of Shai. Jalen Williams scored 25 points against the Lakers in their game on February 7th. Josh Giddey scored 20. And everyone’s favorite ex-Laker Mike Muscala rained 16 points in 17 minutes. OKC made 17 threes and led for most of the game.
So no, they can’t overlook this team even though the Thunder are in a dangerous four-game losing streak that sees them outside of the play-in picture. Also, the Lakers turned the ball over 20 times against OKC in their last meeting. This is really something to watch for, especially after we saw the Lakers do even worse on Tuesday night. Taking care of the ball is the #1 priority for Los Angeles.
Anthony Davis is expected to play in the second game of a back-to-back (UPDATE: Davis has since been mentioned as out for Wednesday night). Davis went for 28 points, 19 rebounds, and 5 blocks against the Grizzlies Tuesday night. It was great to see Lonnie Walker IV take advantage of the minutes he got against Memphis; he scored 21. Austin Reaves came off the bench to score 17.
But all of that production won’t matter if the Thunder get a lot more extra possessions. And let’s not forget that OKC gets the most shots off per game. So the Lakers probably don’t want to give them any more chances to put up more shots.
D’Angelo Russell will likely not play on Wednesday. Not having him on the floor has really messed with the team’s flow and continuity; they badly need another playmaker. But these are the cards the Lakers have to deal with. They just have to take better care of the basketball against a young Thunder team.
Not taking care of the ball means not taking care of business. With 20 games left before Wednesday night, the Lakers can’t afford any more hiccups.