No LeBron James? No problem… For the Lakers, that is.
After a game that resulted in three made free throws from Russell Westbrook to force a thrilling overtime, the Los Angeles Lakers kept the energy alive in extra minutes and walked away with the 138-128 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Thunder has now lost five of the past six games with this loss to LA, and regardless of all five starters ending in double digits, Terrance Ferguson having an excellent shooting night, and the Thunder having a 17-point lead in the first quarter, the Lakers fought until the end resulting in a win to take them back to Los Angeles.
“The message was simple,” Luke Walton said about going into overtime. “How much fun is this? We have five more minutes of basketball to play now. We wanted to win. Let’s go out there and enjoy this.”
Young guys like Kyle Kuzma and Ivica Zubac were standouts for the Lakers last night. Zubac ended with 26 points going 12-14 from the floor and having his way with Steven Adams, while Kuzma lit it up from downtown going 7-12 from 3 and finishing with 32 points.
Lonzo Ball contributed heavily to the Lakers success after regulation, and he finished the night with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 10 assists.
Terrance Ferguson had a big night going 6-12 from downtown and having some clutch shots in the second quarter when the Lakers comeback was in full swing. Ferguson has really stepped up the past few games, and Billy Donovan stated that he has been encouraging him to shoot more.
- The Thunder’s unsuccessful stretch cannot be slated as a “slump” anymore. Something needs to change, and it’s no secret it needs to be the defensive effort. This team had a great stretch of defense back in October and through November, but it has slowly gone downhill, and the team’s record is suffering because of it.
- The Thunder have got to stop making mediocre teams look like title contenders. These games will be games they look back on and hurt from when it becomes crunch time with the arrival of the postseason. This loss to the Lakers was disappointing because it shouldn’t have happened, and when seeds come out determining postgame matchups, they will look back on a game like this and regret giving up a win to a team like the Lakers without LeBron James on the floor
- And that brings me to my next point: The Lakers won a 10-point advantage without LeBron James. How bad could this game have gotten if James was on the floor? It could’ve been completely different, and this loss may start to affect how these guys approach games. Overall that could be bad for the franchise and frustrating for Thunder fans.
The Thunder fall to 26-18, 14-7 on their home court, while the Lakers advance to 25-21 with a second consecutive win.
The Thunder will be on the road in Philadelphia for a 2:30 p.m. game against the 76ers before heading to New York to face the Knicks on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at 11:30 a.m.
Watch below for a full postgame wrap-up including postgame interviews with Nerlens Noel and Russell Westbrook, as well as Lakers head coach Luke Walton, Kyle Kuzma, and Ivica Zubac.