Nick's *10 NBA on ABC - AFTERNOON GAME OF THE WEEK: Nick's NBA SUNDAY MATINEE – The Thunder are in the hunt for home court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs, but the Lakers and the return of Kobe Bryant to Staples Center stands in their way. This is a showcase between two of the league leading scorers in Kevin Durant & Kobe Bryant. See which side Nick is on!
Game: Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers Apr 22 2012 3:30PM
Prediction: Los Angeles Lakers
Grade: Winner (100)
Reason: The OKC Thunder step into showtime Sunday afternoon at Staples Center vs Lakers, who have been red-hot going 9-1 before losing last night in San Antonio against the now #1, Spurs. The loss marked the return of the Black Mamba and after keeping it close through the half, the Spurs were able to blow it open late, and send a message to the Lakers that they most likely did not like. We are looking for Kobe and the Lakers to really respond as a unit after this blowout loss, especially because of the fact the Lakers have played so well as a team over the last 10 games. In his return, Bryant was 7/12 from the field but did not play in the 4th quarter, after a huge run by the Spurs in the 3rd, Mike Brown saw more value to rest his star player. The Thunder are coasting through the stretch with a 5-5 in their last 10, and have lost their #1 ranking in the West to San Antonio. Although their record does not show it, Los Angeles believes that they are still an elite team as well, and the Lakers will be very motivated here with Kobe's first game on home court to prove they can play with anybody. After failing to win any games in Staples center during their first round playoff matchup in 2010, OKC has taken the last two games in LA. As the Thunder continue to cruise into the playoffs we are looking for the Lakers to avenge those losses on home court. With Kobe out, the offense was transitioned through Andrew Bynum, and now that Black Mamba is back on his home court we expect the Lakers to be motivated to make a statement of their own after the beatdown by the Spurs. Back the Lakers and cash in early Sunday afternoon.