D'Angelo Russell
Thunder-Lakers Preview
D'Angelo Russell

Thunder-Lakers Preview

Updated Mar. 5, 2020 2:08 a.m. ET

With Kevin Durant back on the court, the Oklahoma City Thunder quickly got back in the win column.

They'll try to keep rolling Friday night by extending their recent success against the Los Angeles Lakers, which includes a pair of blowout wins three weeks ago.

Durant was forced to sit out a 116-104 loss to Sacramento on Monday because of a sprained right big toe but returned two days later to lead the way in a 112-94 win over Memphis, Oklahoma City's 14th in 17 games.

The Thunder star scored 17 of his 26 points in the second half and grabbed 17 rebounds, one shy of tying a career high, in 33 minutes.


"Our training staff did a great job the last few days," he said. "I'm just happy to be back playing."

Durant will next try to send Oklahoma City (25-11) to its 19th win in 23 games against the Lakers (8-29), including the playoffs. The Thunder have won the past three meetings at Staples Center and prevailed 120-85 at Los Angeles on Dec. 23 for their sixth straight win in the series.

They also led by as many as 46 in a 118-78 home victory four days earlier.

Oklahoma City will try to extend that run while earning a fourth consecutive road win in the opener to a three-game trip.

"It was a good win but obviously we go on the road now for three games. We're going to need to carry over this kind of concentration and focus that we had today," coach Billy Donovan said.

The Lakers have dropped back-to-back games since winning a season-high three in a row but nearly pulled off a stunning rally in Sacramento on Thursday. Los Angeles erased a 27-point deficit in the second half to take a two-point lead with 1:34 remaining.

The Lakers then committed two turnovers and missed their final two shots in a 118-115 loss.

D'Angelo Russell had 11 of his career-best 27 points in the fourth quarter before leaving with a sprained ankle. His status is unclear for Friday.

Kobe Bryant had 28 in his return from a sore right shoulder and was rested in the final period because of a minutes limitation imposed by coach Byron Scott.

"I feel like they kind of got lucky with that one because if I wouldn't have went down, I probably would have hit some bogus shot and we would have won it," Russell said. "Everything was happening for us, and the basketball gods would have probably blessed us on that."

The Lakers won back-to-back home games for the first time this season without Bryant in the lineup but had that streak snapped with a 109-88 drubbing to league-best Golden State on Tuesday.

They trailed by 12 after the opening quarter in that game and 17 on Thursday.

"We have to start games (like the fourth quarter against Sacramento). We can't wait to see how teams are going to attack us and be on our heels," Scott said. "We have to be the aggressor and be physical right from the start."

The Lakers haven't defeated Oklahoma City since March 9, 2014, at Staples Center.


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