• The Lakers headed into Oklahoma City as big underdogs on Wednesday, they did not disappoint, falling to the Thunder 114-90 for their 11th consecutive loss at Chesapeake Energy Arena.  Los Angeles played hard during the first and second quarters, keeping the game competitive and acquitting themselves well, despite playing on the road against a tough opponent.

    From the very beginning, the Lakers primary deficiency was on the defensive end, in particular, keeping the Thunder and Steven Adams off the offensive glass. The Lakers fell behind 33-25 at the end of the first, allowing the Thunder to shoot 15-of-27 (55.6 percent), distribute 10 assists and score 22 points in the paint. Most noticeably, the Thunder outrebounded the Lakers 11-to-6, leading to a tremendous disparity in shots attempted at 27-to-18.

    The Lakers picked up their defensive effort in the second quarter, limiting the Thunder to 27 points and even leading for brief periods. A key turning point occurred with just under four minutes remaining in the half when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had his ankle rolled up by multiple Thunder players, forcing him to leave the game with an injury to his Achilles tendon. The Lakers were only down 44-47 at the time and Caldwell-Pope was playing well with 10 points, two steals, two assists and one rebound. The Lakers would take their last lead at 52-51, but the injuries and the Thunder would prove too much to overcome.

    The second half was not kind to the Lakers as they were unfortunate enough to endure an injury to Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and possibly Tyler Ennis as well. As far as basketball was concerned, the Lakers simply could not keep the Thunder and Steven Adams off the offensive boards, allowing six offensive rebounds in the third quarter alone. Oklahoma City used a 42-18 run to pull away — relegating the fourth quarter to garbage time. Los Angeles was outscored 33-18 in the third quarter.

    Adams was the player of the game for the Thunder; he dominated the Lakers, grabbing rebound after rebound on the offensive end and simply crushed Laker morale. — he did whatever he wanted to with the Laker big men. He finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, one block and a plus-24 rating while making 10-of-12 shots. The Lakers simply had no answer for his size, strength or desire. After the game, Kyle Kuzma remarked that the Thunder “big-boyed” the Lakers on the night — his description was quite apt.

    He was joined by Carmelo Anthony who scored 27 points in 27 minutes, adding three rebounds, two assists, one steal and a game-leading plus-27 rating. He knocked down 10-of-15 from the field, 4-of-6 from 3-point distance and 3-of-3 from the free throw line.

    Russell Westbrook was relatively held in check as he only accrued 19 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals while making only 8-of-22 from the floor.

    Julius Randle led the Lakers with 16 points, three assists, one block and only one rebound. He was minus-24 for the game but did shoot 8-of-11 from the field, although he did not score after halftime. The only other Laker to reach double-figures was Caldwell-Pope who left the game before halftime.

    Brook Lopez was thoroughly outplayed by Adams as he finished with five points, two assists, two rebounds, three turnovers and a minus-17 rating. He did not look good during this game getting out-worked and outmaneuvered by Adams on the glass while looking lost on the offensive end, making poor decisions with the ball while demonstrating poor shot selection. He will need to step up his game significantly if the Lakers’ injuries linger in any way.

    The Lakers got relatively good news after the game with regard to their injuries. Caldwell-Pope had an x-ray that was negative — they will have to hope that future tests and examinations don’t reveal severe injuries as tonight has the potential of being an extremely costly game for them. The report after the game was the Ingram suffered only a minor tweak of his ankle injury and could have returned if the game was more competitive. The Lakers hope to get similarly good news as it pertains to all of their current injuries.

    Key Stats and Observations

    • The Lakers allowed a season-high 21 offensive rebounds as well as 26 second-chance points. Overall, the Lakers were outrebounded 54-30.
    • Los Angeles shot well for the game making 46.9 percent from the field, 38.5 percent from 3-point range and 4-of-4 from the free throw line. However, due to their inability to rebound they had 14 fewer shot attempts from the field as well as eight fewer attempts from the free throw line.

    Up Next

    The Lakers (15-28) return home to take on the Pacers (24-20) on Friday.

    Los Angeles is still expecting to be without starting point guard Lonzo Ball, whom the Lakers are still win-less without on the season. The Lakers may also be without several other key players.

    The Lakers played a key role in the development of the Pacers’ franchise as the rumors that star player Paul George was interested in returning home to Los Angeles provided the impetus for the Pacers to make a blockbuster deal, sending away George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Oladipo, a former Hoosier State product, has been spectacular in his first year with Indiana averaging 24.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 0.9 blocks per game. Sabonis has had a breakout season as well with 12.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

    The Pacers will be missing starting center Myles Turner who is still nursing a ligament sprain in his shooting elbow.

     

Fantasy News

  • Lauri Markkanen
    PF, Chicago Bulls

    Lauri Markkanen is currently shooting 27% from three and 39% from the field.

    What's more, the shots Lauri's missing are his bread and butter: wide open, spot-up opportunities from distance. His most frequent shot types from long range have been stationary threes, on which he's shooting 28%, but the real indicator that positive regression is coming is that he's shooting only 26.5% from three when wide open (nearest defender 6+ feet away). Markkanen, of course, was 38% and 43% on spot-up and wide open threes last year, respectively. There is a major ball movement concern in Chicago as they continue to play their PGs out of position and task Zach "TO Machine" LaVine with primary ballhandling duties, but this screams buy low opportunity. Test the waters to see how frustrated other managers may be with Markkanen. A stretch like the one he had last February could vault him into the top 50 in no time.

    Source: NBC Sports Chicago

  • Luke Kennard
    SG, Detroit Pistons

    Coach Dwane Casey has entrusted Luke Kennard with playmaking duties following the injuries to Derrick Rose (hamstring) and Tim Frazier (hamstring), and it has resulted in a career-high 4.2 assists per game for the third-year SG.

    Kennard’s breakout season is in full swing, as the main obstacle for him had always been Dwane Casey’s reluctance to play him big minutes. Expect Kennard’s stats to stabilize once Blake Griffin’s minutes cap is lifted, but Kennard has cemented himself as a go-to offensive option in the first unit, particularly in the pick-and-roll which amounts to more than 30% of his play types to date. As long as Casey doesn’t inexplicably insert usage monster Derrick Rose into the starting lineup to mess with Kennard’s rhythm, the third-year SG should be able to return top 80 value for the rest of the season. Also, the source article reveals that this lefty shooter is actually right-handed. Go figure.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Kevin Love
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    The Heat-Cavs game in Cleveland on Thursday will start at 6pm EST, an hour earlier than usual.

    The Browns are playing the Steelers in the neighboring stadium, so it appears that the Cavs are just taking careful measures so that each Cleveland franchise loses in an orderly fashion. Start your Heat and Cavs players as you normally would, but just remember the unusually early tipoff tonight, particularly for DFS.

    Source: Ira Winderman on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    LeBron James put together a double-double in Wednesday's 120-94 win against the Warriors, ending with 23 points, six rebounds, 12 assists, a steal and a block.

    James is now averaging 11.1 assists per game and is still getting his when it comes to scoring. He is just inside the top-25 right now and will keep filling the stat sheet all season.

  • Kyle Kuzma
    PF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kyle Kuzma started and finished Wednesday night's contest with 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting, five rebounds, two assists, and three 3-pointers.

    Kuzma has put together a nice streak of games. He adds scoring and 3-pointers, but can't find a way to help teams in other categories. Kuzma will likely end up having late-round value at this pace.

  • JaVale McGee
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    JaVale McGee put up a double-double on Wednesday, finishing with 18 points, 17 boards, two assists, three steals and three blocks.

    McGee was the better center in this contest and played 28 minutes to Dwight Howard's (15 points, eight rebounds, three assists, one block) 20 minutes. McGee put up one of his best performances of the season, but it's hard to get too excited by one night of work. Howard seems to be the center to own for the Lakers.

  • D'Angelo Russell
    PG, Golden State Warriors

    D'Angelo Russell ended the night with 21 points, two rebounds, eight assists, a steal and a block.

    Russell is clearly the go-to option on this Golden State team. He is a top-40 guy right now and has the potential to keep that up for the rest of the year.

  • Draymond Green
    PF, Golden State Warriors

    Draymond Green didn't contribute much on Wednesday, ending with 10 points, only one rebound, five assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers.

    Green contributed in each category, barely. It was nice to see him knock down a couple shots from beyond the arc, but these are hardly the numbers owners were expecting when taking Green in the early rounds. He is currently returning top-125 value and could be a great buy-low opportunity, but it's hard to trust much on the Warriors right now.

  • Willie Cauley-Stein
    C, Golden State Warriors

    Willie Cauley-Stein scored 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting and added five rebounds, three assists and two blocks on Wednesday.

    Cauley-Stein had the best game of the Golden State big men (Marquese Chriss ended scoreless with six boards, two assists and two blocks) and is having a top-100 year so far. He might be doing it quietly, but it's hard to fault you if want to pick up Cauley-Stein now.

  • Eric Paschall
    PF, Golden State Warriors

    Eric Paschall came off the bench on Wednesday and dropped 15 points with three rebounds.

    Paschall still logged 32 minutes but didn't stuff the stat sheet like we have seen in the past. He put a nice move on LeBron, but he is starting to regress despite taking 15 shots in this one. If you picked him up, he is worth holding onto for a bit longer.