The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t been above .500 for any part of the 2013-2013 NBA season, but they will try to change that on Tuesday night.
L.A. is set to visit the Oklahoma City Thunder at 9:30 p.m. eastern time on TNT. Viewers can watch a free live stream online with TNT Overtime.
At 30-30, the Lakers might be playing their best basketball of the season. They’ve won 13 of their last 18 games, and are just two games behind the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot in the West.
Oklahoma City has been dominant against Los Angeles in recent games. The Thunder beat the Lakers in five games the 2012 Playoffs, and they have defeated L.A. in two out of three meetings this year.
Kobe Bryant is averaging just less than 35 points in his last five games, but he didn’t have to score much in L.A.’s only win over Oklahoma City this year. He took just 12 shots and dished out 14 assists in the Lakers 105-96 victory on Jan. 27.
In the Lakers two losses to the Thunder, Bryant was more concerned about scoring points. He took 23 and 24 shots, respectively, in the first two matchups against Oklahoma City.
Other than the Lakers need to win games to stay in the playoff race, Bryant may have some more incentive to win on Tuesday. Serge Ibaka picked up a technical foul on Sunday after punching Blake Griffin below the belt. In response to seeing the video, Bryant said he would have “smacked [Ibaka] in the mouth” if he was in Griffin’s shoes.
For one of the few times this year, there’s a good chance Bryant will be outscored this season. Kevin Durant leads the league with 28.6 points per game. He’s been the high scorer in all three games against the Lakers, putting up at least 35 points each time.
Despite their recent run, L.A. isn’t expected to pick up the victory on the road. The Thunder are favored by nine points at most Las Vegas casinos.
Prediction: The Thunder have one of the best home court advantages in the NBA, and Los Angeles is just 10-19 on the road. The Lakers have struggled to contain Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook should have success against Steve Nash, who’s one of the worst defenders in the league.
Predicted Score: Oklahoma City 110, Los Angeles 96