I sat down to talk Thunder and Lakers with Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times as a preview for today’s showdown. There’s all kinds of good stuff in there. So take a listen.
In the final minute and a half of the interview, I called Kevin Durant the X-factor today. My reasoning: his history of struggles inside the Staples Center. The Lakers are one of just three teams Durant has yet to defeat in their building in his four NBA seasons. Orlando and Milwaukee are the other two.
Inside the Staples Center, though, something about Durant’s scoring prowess changes. It might be Lakers forward Ron Artest. It might be the bright lights. It might be he can’t stop thinking about Jack Nicholson in The Departed. Either way, if Durant makes shots, the Thunder has a good chance of winning today.
Entering tonight’s game, Durant has averaged 24.8 points in six career games against the Lakers at Staples Center. He’s shot 45.8 percent from the field in those contests and 33.3 percent (6 of 18) from 3-point range. In fairness, Durant’s career averages are 25.9 points on 46.1 percent shooting from the field and 35 percent shooting from 3. Not far off his averages in L.A. Add to that, Durant went 1-for-8 from downtown in his last trip to L.A. to face the Lakers, so his 3-ball numbers at L.A. might be a little skewed because of one game.
Still, if you throw in Durant’s three playoffs games inside Staples Center, his averages dip to 24.6 points on 43 percent shooting from the field and 31.5 percent from beyond the arc.
If KD can render Ron Artest useless tonight and put together a big performance, the Thunder can come out of L.A. with its first win against the Lakers.