User ID
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Betting Tools
Preview: Lakers (0-0) at Thunder (0-0)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Date: December 13, 2013 8:00 PM EDT

The return of Kobe Bryant created plenty of excitement and optimism around the Los Angeles Lakers, though it's yet to pay off with a victory.

Without playing on Thursday, the team suffered another loss.

Steve Blake is out for at least six weeks with an elbow injury, meaning Bryant is expected to shift over to point guard for lengthy stretches starting with Friday night's visit with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Bryant returned to the floor Sunday, but he's shown a little rust in his first two games back after eight months of rehab for his torn Achilles tendon. He missed nine of 11 shots in a 106-94 loss to Toronto in his debut, but looked better on Tuesday, going 6 of 11 from the field and finishing with a team-high 20 points in a 114-108 loss to Phoenix.


"It's a process," Bryant said. "You just continue to figure out what you can and can't do. Every game, you try to step up and do a little bit more and just go from there."

The Lakers (10-11) haven't lost three straight this season, but they face a tall task Friday against the Thunder (17-4), who are 10-0 at home.

Their long-term prognosis got a bit dicier on Thursday as well, as the team announced Blake would miss at least six weeks with a torn elbow ligament. With Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar already out, Bryant is expected to handle the starting point guard duties with Xavier Henry backing him up.

Blake's injury initially happened Nov. 26 in Washington, but he continued to play through it.

"I'm just really heartbroken for him," Bryant told the Lakers' official Twitter account. "He's put in a lot of hard work and played phenomenally."

While Los Angeles may be in for some adjustments offensively without its point guard, some defensive changes are in order as well. The Lakers have allowed an average of 106.6 points in their last seven games, and now face the high-scoring Thunder.

Oklahoma City has won 12 of 13 and has averaged 111.0 points during its latest winning streak, which stretched to four with Wednesday's 116-100 victory at Memphis. Russell Westbrook led the way with 27 points and nine assists while backcourt reserves Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson combined for 35 points.

Like Bryant, Westbrook got hurt in April. But the recovery from his lateral meniscus tear seems to be going well, as Westbrook has averaged 23.0 points and 9.3 assists in Oklahoma City's past three games.

'Russell is calming down, relaxing and just playing his game,' Kevin Durant said. 'He is getting confidence. We tell him when he does no one can stop him.'

Westbrook's eyes seem to light up whenever he sees the Lakers. He's averaged 29.8 points in his last six games against Los Angeles, including the final two games of the 2012 Western Conference semifinals.

Westbrook had 37 points and 10 rebounds when the teams last met in Oklahoma City, a 122-105 Thunder win on March 5.

Oklahoma City is rarely lacking for offense with Durant and Westbrook out there, but lately it's started to crack down defensively. The Thunder's past 10 opponents have shot just 40.5 percent - 30.7 from 3-point range.

"We put our mind set every time we set out on defense first and on the team first," Durant said. "That's what we have been doing. We have putting everything aside. We put our individual stats, shots, rebounds, and assists aside. We are grinding our system offensively and defensively.

"We have to just keep it up. We just have to have that mindset where we can't let anything distract us from what we want to do in the game."

Durant has scored at least 35 points in four of his last five regular-season meetings with the Lakers.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

 Team  ML   SPR   O/U 
 LAL  +700   +12.5   211 
 OKL  -1100   -12.5   

 Team  ML   SPR   O/U 
 LAL  +700   +12.5   211 
 OKL  -1100   -12.5   

 Team  ML   SPR   O/U 
 LAL  57%   37%   47% 
 OKL  43%   63%   53% 

 Friday, Dec 13
    Cavaliers at Magic
7:05 PM EDT
    Bobcats at Pacers
7:05 PM EDT
    76ers at Raptors
7:05 PM EDT
    Knicks at Celtics
7:35 PM EDT
    Wizards at Hawks
7:35 PM EDT
    Nets at Pistons
7:35 PM EDT
    Grizzlies at Pelicans
8:05 PM EDT
    Lakers at Thunder
8:05 PM EDT
    Bulls at Bucks
8:35 PM EDT
    Timberwolves at Spurs
8:35 PM EDT
    Jazz at Nuggets
9:05 PM EDT
    Kings at Suns
9:05 PM EDT
    Rockets at Warriors
10:35 PM EDT
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Daily Fantasy NFL Perfect Lineup Contest