NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, February 27th (All times eastern)
Los Angeles Lakers (41-19) at Oklahoma City Thunder (36-21), 2:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers aim to stay perfect after the All-Star break when they begin a quick road trip this afternoon against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Los Angeles headed to the break with three straight losses, but has ripped off three consecutive victories since the All-Star festivities and recorded a 108-95 triumph over the Clippers Friday night from Staples Center. Kobe Bryant scored 18 of his 24 points in a decisive third quarter, while Pau Gasol compiled 22 points for the Lakers, winners in seven of the last 10 games.
Bryant, this year's All-Star Game MVP, shook off a right elbow problem before sitting the fourth quarter. He helped ignite a 16-5 run that gave the Lakers a 76-62 advantage.
"It's sore, very sore," said Bryant, who ended 10-of-16 from the field. "When I hit it, my whole arm went numb. I just had to change my shot."
Andrew Bynum chipped in 16 points and 11 rebounds in a winning effort. The third seeded and Pacific Division-leading Lakers will also visit Minnesota and are 20-11 on the road in 2010-11.
Oklahoma City is back home for consecutive games versus the Lakers and Pacers, and owns a 20-8 ledger in the OKC this season.
The Thunder are coming off two straight losses against the upper echelon of the NBA, the Spurs and Magic. In Friday's 111-88 blowout loss in Orlando, Dwight Howard powered his way to 40 points and 15 rebounds. Kevin Durant had 23 points and 16 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook and James Harden finished with 18 and 16 points, respectively, in defeat.
"They played great defense throughout the night and made us take tough shots," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said of the Magic. "It seemed like every shot was contested."
Oklahoma City missed 11 of its first 12 shots and suffered its seventh straight loss in central Florida. It will also host Indiana and is 20-8 at home this season. The Thunder are fourth in the Western Conference standings.
The Thunder did not have newcomers Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson and Nazr Mohammed available, and hope to unveil their new roster today. Perkins is expected to miss another week with a sprained left knee.
Los Angeles defeated Oklahoma City, 101-94, on Jan. 17 at Staples Center behind 21 points, seven assists and five rebounds from Bryant. Westbrook poured in 32 points in that one for the Thunder, losers in 17 of the previous 20 meetings with LA.
The Lakers have won eight of 10 and nine of the last 12 road meetings.
02/27 10:36:42 ET