Lakers vs Thunder: Full update

Here’s all you need to know about Lakers vs Thunder

The Lakers (25-29) return from a five-game road trip to face OKC (25-28) for the first time this season. The game tips at 7:00 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet and 710 ESPN radio.

Below are three things to know ahead of the matchup:

After a 27-point night at New Orleans, LeBron James has only 36 points to score to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for 1st on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

Clearly, 36 points is well within reach for Tuesday’s game, but is it the most likely scenario? Not based on the math.

This season, LeBron is averaging exactly 30.0 points per game, and has scored 36 points in eight of the 43 games he’s played, or 18.6 percent of the time. With the exception of the overtime loss at Boston when he attempted 30 shots, LeBron’s field goal attempts have fallen with Anthony Davis returning from injury: 20 vs. SAS; 25 @ NYK (OT); 19 @ IND; 22 @ NOP.

LeBron has always maintained that he’s going to keep “The main thing the main thing,” which is much more about winning basketball games than it is breaking this record on Tuesday, as opposed to Thursday. It’s only a matter of time, but with where the Lakers are in the standings especially, the primary focus for James will undoubtedly be putting the Lakers in best position to win the game, whether that takes 20 points, or 40.

Playing the last of their five games on a nine-day road trip, the Lakers had built an 11-point halftime lead in New Orleans, and they still led by eight in the final minute of the third quarter.

A miscommunication on defense by the Lakers allowed CJ McCollum an open short floater with 5.2 seconds remaining. Then Wenyen Gabriel, who’d dunked seconds earlier to make it an 8-point game, threw an inbounds pass that was intercepted by Jose Alvarado, who hit a three to trim the lead down to just three points going into the fourth quarter. The momentum shifted that quickly.

“Their push was basically all energy,” said Darvin Ham. “We stopped playing defense in the third quarter. That gave them life. Us missing a layup, getting discouraged, celebrating after a made shot … they were just moving onto the next play and rushing right back at us.”

Getting another team’s best shot, especially in their building, isn’t uncommon for the Lakers. And due in part to allowing a 42-point quarter to the Pelicans, New Orleans built upon the end-of-third run to push a lead up to six points at the 9:07 mark after back-to-back threes from Trey Murphy III.

Lakers vs Thunder

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LAL recovered to tie the game at the 6:45, and then 5:48 marks, but would not lead again.

“We just gotta create some consistency,” summarized Russell Westbrook.

For the first time since January 4, Austin Reaves is set to return to the basketball court after battling a hamstring injury for the past month and change.

Reaves, who at times was L.A.’s third best player, and thus occasionally starting and often finishing games, makes the Lakers almost fully healthy. But does that create a potential log jam in the backcourt?

Of late, Dennis Schröder and Patrick Beverley have been starting at the guard spots, leaving Russell Westbrook, Troy Brown and Lonnie Walker IV as the guards off the bench. Both Westbrook and Brown can scale up defensively and defend small forwards if need be, but Darvin Ham’s challenge all season has been finding enough minutes for capable guards, without making the overall team too small.

Nonetheless, Reaves has some particular skills on the ball, as a playmaker and a secondary scorer, that the Lakers need. It’s unlikely that he’ll play big minutes as he reintegrates into the rotation … but he’s proven too much to be left off the floor.

Austin, like the rest of his teammates, get a first look at OKC this season, the last Western foe the Lakers have yet to face. The Thunder are coming off a tough Monday night blowout at Golden State in which they led by six after one, but were run off the floor in the second and third quarters (29-16 and 44-26).

All-Star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been terrific for his team all year, averaging 30.8 points on 50.6 percent shooting, plus 5.6 assists to 2.8 turnovers. But the young Thunder are without their best perimeter defender, Lou Dort, who’s nursing a hamstring injury. Dort was their best option against LeBron; they’ll now likely have to defend him with a rookie, wither Jaylin or Jalen Williams.

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