Oklahoma City Thunder: Lakers in the semifinals?
The Lakers lost 102-93 to the Thunder on Thursday night, but the Lakers stayed third in the Western Conference standings. But will Los Angeles stay there?
The Lakers have a rugged schedule the rest of the way: 15 games left, and three are against the Spurs, including two in San Antonio. The Lakers also host the Thunder again and play the Clippers in a Clipper home game at Staples Center. Plus the Lakers have games against playoff contenders Houston, Phoenix, Denver and Dallas.
It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Lakers drop to fourth or fifth in the West. The Lakers are 11/2 games ahead of the Clippers in the standings and just 21/2 in front of fifth-place Memphis (and Dallas).
If the Lakers slipped to fourth or fifth, they would be on the same side of the semifinal bracket as the Thunder, provided Oklahoma City holds on to its three-game lead on San Antonio.
And that wouldn’t be bad for the Thunder. The Lakers are proving to be a suitable matchup for OKC. San Antonio? No. Memphis? Tough. Dallas? Always dangerous.
But the Lakers, not so much. The Thunder has the defensive matchups to counter the Lakers. Thabo Sefolosha dogs Kobe Bryant about as well as anyone in the league; Kobe made seven of 25 shots Thursday night. And the Thunder’s inside duo of Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka is a decent counter to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. The Laker duo will outscore the Thunder duo most every time – and did Thursday night, 38-20. But the Thunder post players made the Laker skyscrapers work for their points; Gasol and Bynum combined to make 14 of 26 shots.
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