Although the Sonics have historically caused trouble for the Lakers, that has not been the case this season as L.A. has beaten the Sonics in all three games between the teams. Of the three wins, two of them came in blowout fashion, with the only close contest coming in the Emerald City when the Lakers escaped by a basket thanks to Kobe’s late game heroics.
The Sonics are losers of nine straight heading into tonight’s battle, suffering recent losses to some of the league’s best teams in Phoenix and Boston. Meanwhile, the Lakers return to STAPLES Center after their most difficult four-game road trip in over three decades, riding a huge wave of momentum following their convincing win over the Jazz to end Utah’s 19-game home winning streak.
For Seattlealready facing longterm uncertainty about the franchise’s permanent residency Kevin Durant has been a lone bright spot this year, averaging almost 20 points a game to lead the 2007-08 rookie class. However, Durant has little help on offense, especially after Seattle traded fellow scorer Wally Szcerbiak to Cleveland in a blockbuster deal at the trading deadline. Defense has been a problem all year for the Sonics, as they give up over 106 points a nightthe second worst figure in the entire league.
In the two teams’ last meeting, Mickael Gelabale had a career night for Seattle, scoring 21 points on 10 of 16 shooting from the field. However, the Sonics will be without his services tonight after Gelabale tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in Seattle’s practice on Tuesday. The news went from bad to worse when Chris Wilcoxwho did not play the last time L.A. faced Seattle eitherannounced that he is considering sitting out the rest of the season to heal his injured pinkie finger. His absence inside should help the Lakers fare better inside the paint, already plagued with injuries to Gasol and Bynum on their own front line.
Although L.A. has won the past three season series against Seattle, a victory tonight would mark the first sweep since the since 1989-90.