National Basketball Association
L.A. Lakers at Oklahoma City
When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, February 24, 2017
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Magic Johnson was part of the "Showtime" Los Angeles Lakers who won five NBA titles in the 1980s but the Hall of Fame player is an unknown quantity when it comes to being an executive. Johnson is the new president of basketball operations of the Lakers, who resume play after the All-Star break by visiting the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday.
Johnson became the organization's main power broker when co-owner Jeanie Buss fired her brother, Jim, as executive vice president of basketball operations and general manager Mitch Kupchak on Tuesday in a stunning development. "Everything happened so fast," Lakers coach Luke Walton told reporters. "The initial thought is why do it right before the trade deadline, but Magic came in and we got to work right away." Oklahoma City is always happy to see Los Angeles as the opponent as its two wins earlier this season make it 10 consecutive victories over the Lakers. The Thunder acquired power forward Taj Gibson and small forward Doug McDermott at Thursday's trading deadline for point guard Cameron Payne, forward/center Joffrey Lauvergne and swingman Anthony Morrow.TV:
8 p.m. ET, Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles), FSN OklahomaABOUT THE LAKERS (19-39):
Johnson didn't wait long to make a trade as he shipped leading scorer Lou Williams (18.6) to the Houston Rockets for veteran swingman Corey Brewer and a first-round draft pick, and he also has inquired about the availability of Indiana All-Star forward Paul George. Johnson emphasized that he is aware it won't be easy to restore the franchise to its once glorious form. "I wouldn't be sitting here if it was a good situation," Johnson told reporters. "I understand what I'm up against, but I'm here, and I'm here for the long haul, and eventually we will turn it around."ABOUT THE THUNDER (32-25):
Oklahoma City added toughness in the interior with Gibson and shooting on the perimeter in McDermott in the trade with the Bulls. Another development is that backup center Enes Kanter returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since undergoing forearm surgery on Jan. 27, and coach Billy Donovan said a determination of whether Kanter can play Friday will be made after Thursday's practice. "If we get in practice here and he's not able to play post defense because he can't put his forearm on guys and prevent a guy from backing down, it's gonna be pretty clear he's not playing Friday," Donovan told reporters. "If he's having a hard time going up in traffic with guys slapping and reaching at him and he's in pain, he's probably not gonna play."BUZZER BEATERS
1. The Lakers dropped their past nine visits to Oklahoma City.
2. Thunder All-Star PG Russell Westbrook has recorded 27 triple-doubles, four behind second-place Wilt Chamberlain (31 in 1967-68) as he pursues record-holder Oscar Robertson (41 in 1961-62).
3. Los Angeles rookie SF Brandon Ingram averaged just 3.7 points on 4-of-17 shooting in the last three games prior to the All-Star break.PREDICTION:
Thunder 116, Lakers 99
Stats and Records