Lakers-Thunder Preview

The Associated Press

The memory of Jodie Meeks' performance in a stunning loss to the Los Angeles Lakers can't be far from the minds of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Now Oklahoma City can only hope it's solved its defensive issues heading into Thursday night's rematch.

The Thunder seek their fifth straight home win and eighth in a row - including the playoffs - against the Lakers in Oklahoma City as the teams meet for the second time in five days.

Los Angeles announced Wednesday that Kobe Bryant wouldn't return this season, but the man filling Bryant's shoes did a pretty good impression of the former MVP in the Lakers' latest game. Meeks scored a career-high 42 points Sunday as Los Angeles snapped a three-game skid with a 114-110 home win over the Thunder.

He made 6 of 11 from 3-point range and all 14 free-throw attempts on the way to becoming the third player to reach the 30-point mark for the Lakers (22-42).

"(My teammates) did a great job finding me in transition and in some set plays," said Meeks, who helped Los Angeles rally from an 18-point deficit. "So I give credit to those guys for helping me out with a big game."

Meeks was held to nine points on 3-of-16 shooting in a 122-97 loss at Oklahoma City on Dec. 13 before missing a 107-103 home loss Feb. 13 due to a sprained right ankle. Since returning from that five-game absence, he's averaging 19.2 points and shooting 51.4 percent in his last 11.

The Lakers have scored 115.3 per game - 13.3 above their season average - while hitting 45.2 percent from beyond the arc over their last six.

After giving up an average of 121.0 points and allowing opponents to shoot 48.3 percent from 3-point range while losing both games on their brief trip, the Thunder (47-17) held Houston well below their 106.5 scoring average in Tuesday's 106-98 home win.

"Well, I don't have to say we need to get better on the defensive end tonight, but we're gonna keep working on it," coach Scott Brooks told the league's official website. "I'm proud of our guys, we challenged ourselves (Monday) in practice that after 48 minutes we could be satisfied with the results."

The Northwest Division leaders haven't had much trouble offensively, averaging 114.1 points in their last eight games.

Kevin Durant finished with 42 points Tuesday after recording his third triple-double of the season with 27 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds against the Lakers. The MVP candidate, vying for his fourth scoring title in five years, has averaged 36.3 points over his last four.

Durant has also scored 25 or more in a career-high 29 consecutive games, a streak he's likely to extend against a Los Angeles team that has surrendered 129.5 points per game in its last four.

Serge Ibaka contributed 21 points and 15 boards Sunday as Oklahoma City outrebounded Los Angeles 59-36. He's pulled down 32 rebounds in the season series, helping the Thunder hold a 162-119 advantage on the glass while winning two of three.

Oklahoma City owns an NBA-best plus-4.9 rebounding margin, while the Lakers have a league-worst minus-7.5 margin.

Pau Gasol, averaging a team-high 9.9 rebounds, finished with 20 points and 11 boards in Sunday's win. He's averaged 24.3 points in his last four overall.

The Lakers have dropped seven straight meetings in Oklahoma City by an average of 15.7 points, including the 2012 playoffs.

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