Oklahoma City Thunder Stat Monkey Brief: Thunder/Lakers (1/27/13)

OKC's been the better team, but they haven't had an answer for Dwight Howard when he's been healthy.

For the Los Angeles Lakers perspective on the game, check out Andrew Sugar's Lakers preview as well.

The Thunder took care of business against Sacramento and now they will look to do the same against the Lakers. So far, this matchup has been one of the most disappointing of the season. Billed as a high-octane battle between the two top teams in the Western Conference, the Thunder have not surprisingly gone 2-0 against LA this year.

Opposite Ends of the Shooting Spectrum

The Thunder and Lakers are both top ten teams when it comes to shooting. Oklahoma City ranks 10th in the NBA with an effective field goal percentage of .526. Los Angeles ranks seventh with an effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of .509. It is hardly shocking that against a below average Lakers shot defense (17th in eFG% allowed at .494) the Thunder have had above average performances even by their standards. In the first game, Oklahoma City had an eFG% of .542, in the second .557.

However, what is slightly surprising is that LA also helped the Thunder cause with a .494 eFG% in the first meeting and a mark of .429 in the second matchup. So for all of the blame pinned on the Lakers’ defense, their offense has been equally inefficient against a good Thunder shot defense.

Help Wanted

If L.A. has an advantage in this game, it is that Oklahoma City had no answer for Dwight Howard on the glass in the first meeting. In that game, the Lakers kept things relatively close thanks to an offensive rebounding percentage that favored them by a mark of 37.5 percent to 26.8 percent. Howard led the charge with 18 total rebounds, six of them coming on the offensive end.

In the second matchup, the Howard-less Lakers saw that advantage vanish as the Thunder narrowly beat them out in the battle on the boards. Antawn Jamison and Earl Clark each had nice days with 10 boards apiece, but the opportunities for second chance points came at a slower pace (28.6 percent ORB percentage). Howard might improve that tonight, but if the Lakers want to capitalize on their only clear advantage, he will need help.