The Lakers were forced to take on a tough team without their star LeBron James, who is still out due to a groin injury.

The Los Angeles Lakers were matched up with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the first time this season -- with it also being the first time the Lakers played Paul George since he decided to sign with the Thunder over Los Angeles in free agency this summer. The Lakers were forced to take on a tough team without their star LeBron James, who is still out due to a groin injury.

In their previous game on Dec. 30th vs. the Kings, the Lakers won due to a 4th quarter comeback after outscoring the Kings 29-18 in the final 12 minutes. They looked to build off that victory and make it two-straight against the Thunder.

The second quarter was just as even, but the Thunder were able to walk into the locker room with a 2-point lead at halftime.

In the first quarter, both teams struggled to play their best basketball with fouls being called all over the place. Paul George racked up 3 fouls in the opening quarter as the Lakers hit 12 of their 15 shots from the charity stripe, with both teams tied after the first quarter. The second quarter was just as even, but the Thunder were able to walk into the locker room with a 2-point lead at halftime.

Lakers took a 4-point lead heading into the final quarter.

In the third quarter, the Lakers turned it up a bit and continued to play spectacular defense on Westbrook. Outscoring the Thunder 25-19, the Lakers took a 4-point lead heading into the final quarter. The final 12 minutes of play saw the Lakers shoot themselves in the foot. The Thunder recorded easy basket after another, leading to a 7-point loss to the Lakers.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the way with 25 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals, but shot just 6-14. Brandon Ingram (17 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block), JaVale McGee (15 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 blocks) and Josh Hart (13 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block) also had nice games.

The Lakers are slowly learning that Lonzo Ball cannot be leaned on at any point of the game. He scored just 3 points and at some point, his defensive-minded game will need to be taken to the bench. Without any type of leadership from him, there is no point in having him as a starter when LeBron returns. He’s much better as a situational player that comes on the floor when defense is needed.

First Quarter:

The Thunder started the game on a 6-1 run, but a block by McGee kept the Lakers’ energy up. McGee would later score the Lakers’ first bucket, followed by two free throws from Kuzma to make it a 1-point game after 3 minutes. Lonzo finished a layup to bring the game to 8-7 in favor of OKC.

A dunk by Chandler and free throw by Hart brought the Lakers back in the game, but the Thunder continued to respond well.

Both teams struggled to score over the next few minutes as the Lakers started 2/11 from the floor, but a layup by Ingram put an end to the silence. A dunk by Chandler and free throw by Hart brought the Lakers back in the game, but the Thunder continued to respond well. The Thunder struggled to hit free throws, while a jumpshot by Ingram and free throws by KCP tied the game up at 16.

A last-second three-pointer by OKC put them up 2, but KCP hit two more free throws with 0.7 seconds left to tie the game up after one quarter.

In the final three minutes of the quarter, Chandler hit a couple of free throws, KCP made the Lakers’ first three-pointer (1/8 as a team) and KCP hit two free throws. A last-second three-pointer by OKC put them up 2, but KCP hit two more free throws with 0.7 seconds left to tie the game up after one quarter.

Paul George totaled 3 fouls and 4 points, while Russell Westbrook added just 3 points (each played 9 minutes in the quarter).

Q1 Score: Los Angeles Lakers 25 - 25 Oklahoma City Thunder

Q1 MVP: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (9 points, 1 assist, 6-6 FT)

Second Quarter:

Both teams traded buckets early in the quarter, including layups by McGee and Kuzma, an and-one dunk by McGee, a three-pointer by KCP, and a dunk by KCP. After 4 minutes of play, the Lakers established a 5-point as the bench started to shine.

The Thunder continued to pour it on, but Lance Stephenson hit a three pointer and driving dunk by Ingram kept LA within 2 points.

After a timeout, McGee finished a putback layup and KCP hit his third three of the game to keep the Lakers’ lead in tact. JaVale McGee made another layup, but a 6-0 run by the Thunder gives them a 3-point lead over the Lakers. The Thunder continued to pour it on, but Lance Stephenson hit a three pointer and driving dunk by Ingram kept LA within 2 points.

In the final minute, the Thunder go on a 5-0 run to end halftime with the Lakers down 2 points.

With nearly two minutes remaining in the half, Lance Stephenson connected with Chandler for a beautiful assist to dunk. It led to 4 more unanswered points to take a 4-point lead after a layup by Hart and driving dunk by Ingram. In the final minute, the Thunder go on a 5-0 run to end halftime with the Lakers down 2 points.

Halftime Score: Los Angeles Lakers 57 - 59 Oklahoma City Thunder

Q2 MVP: JaVale McGee (9 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block)

Third Quarter:

Josh Hart opened the second half up with a layup, followed by a layup from McGee as the Lakers stole the lead again. A block by McGee temporarily preserved that lead, while a mid-range jumper by Ingram extended it to a 3-point game. Shortly after, both teams traded buckets, including a layup by McGee.

The Thunder started to find their shots, but another dunk by Zubac kept the lead in favor of LA.

Out of a timeout, the Lakers opened up a 9-4 run due to a dunk by Zubac, 4 points by Ingram and a three-pointer by KCP, giving the Lakers a 5-point lead again. The Thunder started to find their shots, but another dunk by Zubac kept the lead in favor of LA. Great defense led to both teams struggling on offense as the third quarter winded down.

In the final two minutes, Mykhailiuk scored 4 points and Zubac added another basket, with the Lakers ending the third quarter with a 4-point lead.

Q3 Score: Los Angeles Lakers 82 - 78 Oklahoma City Thunder

Q3 MVP: Zubac/Mykhailiuk (10 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 block, 5-6 FG)

Fourth Quarter:

The fourth quarter started off with back-and-forth action, with Zubac finishing a putback layup, Mykhailiuk hitting 1/2 free throws, but poor shooting eventually led to the Thunder retaking the lead 3 minutes into the quarter.

Paul George started to heat up, followed by a three-pointer from Hart to bring the game to 95-92 with 3:30 remaining.

The Thunder continued to pour it on, but a 4-0 run by LA (3 of those coming from Hart) kept it a 2-point deficit. Paul George started to heat up, followed by a three-pointer from Hart to bring the game to 95-92 with 3:30 remaining.

A 10-1 run by the Thunder blew the game out of reach with 1 minute left, the Lakers now down by 12 points. Los Angeles finished on a 7-2 run, but still lost 107-100.

Final Score: Los Angeles Lakers 100 - 107 Oklahoma City Thunder

Q4 MVP: Josh Hart (8 points, 3 rebounds)

The Lakers had every opportunity to win this game against the Thunder, but fell short due to their own shortcomings. The way the Thunder were shooting (38% from the field), this should’ve been an easy win for LA.

The Lakers shot 42% from the field, 26% from long range and 60% from the charity stripe. They also recorded 64 rebounds, 8 offensive rebounds, 24 assists, 8 steals, 9 blocks, 17 turnovers, 27 fast break points, 54 points in the paint and 26 personal fouls.

Los Angeles will have one day of rest before their matchup on Friday against the New York Knicks.

by Ryan Brennan

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