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Thunder Host Lakers Friday To Begin Playoff Push

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With or without their two newest additions, Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, Billy Donovan and the Thunder are set to host the Lakers on Thursday night, a 7 p.m. CT tip.

The Thunder’s trade of Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow and Joffrey Lauvergne to Chicago for Gibson, McDermott and a second-round pick was met with positive reviews across the spectrum. Now it’s a matter of incorporating the new guys and battling for playoff seeding in the final 25 games.

The Thunder sits 32-25, seventh in the West but just 1.5 games behind sixth-place Memphis Grizzlies and three games behind the fourth and fifth-place L.A. Clippers and Utah Jazz. Oklahoma City gets Utah twice at home and Memphis once on the road in the remaining slate.

The Lakers (19-29) are one of the NBA’s worst defensive teams allowing 110.7 points per game. They also traded leading scorer Lou Williams to the Rockets in exchange for swingman Corey Brewer and a first-rounder over the break. The team has handed over the reins to young stars D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram and is playing for ping pong balls right now, but they’re still capable of upsetting a defensively-relaxed opponent. They put up 121 on New York and 122 on Milwaukee earlier this month and beat the Thunder on a Nick Young three-pointer with five seconds left back in November.

The Thunder could have sixth-man Enes Kanter back in the lineup after a 10-game absence. With Kanter’s return and the addition of Gibson and McDermott, it’ll be interesting to see how Donovan’s rotations change.

Next up for the Thunder is a home date against Boogie Cousins and the new-look Pelicans on Sunday.

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