OKC Thunder (38-12, 16-8 road) at Los Angeles Lakers (31-19, 20-4 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.4 (1st), Lakers– 105.0 (15th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.4 (12th), Lakers – 102.2 (10th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.2 (5th), Lakers – 90.4 (21st)
View from the enemy: Forum Blue and Gold
This game’s receiving quite a bit of hype because it’s a big game between top Western teams, but also because it’s Derek Fisher’s return. The latter, most Thunder fans don’t really care about. There’s not a lot of connection to Fisher yet and while I’m sure it’ll carry some emotion in Staples, it’s more about business for Oklahoma City.
The Lakers seem to have reinvented themselves as contenders by dumping Fisher and replacing him with Ramon Sessions. There’s no doubt they’re an improved team from the last time OKC saw the Lakers, but the Thunder are a little better too. And playing some really good ball. This is game two in this ridiculous series of games against top teams. OKC’s handled one. Now it’s time to get the second.
Lakers coming in: The Lakers played Tuesday beating the Warriors.
Three Big Things
1. Perk vs. Bynum. Perk makes the money he does largely because of what he can do against a guy like Andrew Bynum. He’s strong enough to keep him away from his spots, challenges him both physically and mentally and isn’t afraid to get extremely tough down low. In the first meeting Bynum was a non-factor when Perk was on the floor. The Thunder need more of the same again.
2. Kobe vs. Harden. James Harden absolutely relishes playing against Kobe. He was Harden’s childhood hero and you can just see there’s another look in Harden when he’s taking on No. 24. Harden did terrific work on him last time and the two talked some smack. I’m sure Kobe hasn’t forgotten what was said or the way Harden pranced around after hitting a dagger 3.
3. World Peace vs. Durant. Ron Metta World Artest Peace had KD’s number for a while but the last couple meetings, Durant’s done much, much better. He’s stronger, more physical and doesn’t need to get the ball coming off a screen to score. KD can isolate and score on his own, in the post or off the dribble. But World Peace is still a solid defender and will want to shut down Durant.
Tip at 9:30 CT. Go Thunder Show.