The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night at Staples Center.
Following their longest winning streak of the season, three games, the Lakers had three days off before welcoming Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and a scorching hot Oklahoma City Thunder team. Only, Durant has been ruled out against the Lakers.
On Thursday night, Durant sprained his ankle in the first half against the Golden State Warriors. He did not return to the game, which was not a positive sign for his involvement only one day later. The lanky forward had 30 points in 19 minutes on the court before heading to the locker room for halftime.
Durant's 30-point total was his season high and had statisticians checking the record books.
Even without Durant, Westbrook has been on a tear since returning from his injury. Westbrook, who scored 33 points in the loss to the Warriors, only returned to the court on Nov. 28 following a broken hand. In the 10 games since returning, the explosive guard is averaging 28.3 points, 7.3 assists and 6.4 rebounds per game. More importantly, Westbrook and the Thunder have won eight of those 10 games.
As a reminder, the Lakers only have eight wins on the season.
Durant was ruled out hours before tip-off and should be a huge loss for the visitors. The reigning league MVP was a major component to the Thunder's recent eight-game winning streak.
Looking at the standings, the Lakers are only 3.5 games behind the Thunder and five games back of the final playoff spot. With Oklahoma City getting its train back on the tracks, that final playoff spot will only be tougher to attain for the purple and gold.
Of course, a win on Friday night would help the Lakers get their train back on the tracks following a pitiful loss to the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.
The Lakers and Thunder will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.