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Nets end their road trip in Oklahoma City

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Oklahoma City Thunder v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Sometimes, being in Los Angeles can be the worst thing in the world. For the Nets, their back-to-back set in LA was a mess. They got blown out in Game One vs the Clippers and lost a close one to the Lakers in Game Two. This is the last of their five game road trip. They’re back in town on Sunday afternoon.

Awaiting the Nets will be the Oklahoma City Thunder. After a great start, the Thunder have gone cold. They had lost four straight games, but came away with a great win against the Rockets on Wednesday night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV and WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 8 PM.

Injuries

Jeremy Lin is still out.

Cameron Payne remains out with a foot injury.

The game

In off the court news, the Thunder appear to be in the market for disgruntled Kings forward Rudy Gay. Keep an eye on that situation.

With Kevin Durant out in Oakland, Victor Oladipo has to be the second scoring option for Billy Donovan’s club. So far at least, it’s been a bit hit or miss. Although he’s only shooting 42 percent from the field and a career low 68.8 percent from the line, Dipo has shot a career high 41.3 percent from three point range. He’s also turning the ball over at a career low rate, and as he gets more comfortable playing on his new team, he can become a capable second (or third) option.

Bojan Bogdanovic will have to fend off Andre Roberson. James Harden had his worst game of the season on Wednesday as Roberson was able to hound him all game long and helped force him to commit six turnovers. Bogdanovic has been working to become a better player and will have his hands full against one of the league’s best perimeter defenders. Bogdanovic has done well this season and if he can put together another efficient, high scoring game, the Nets have a chance to end this trip on a good note.

You know you’re starting to get old when you can say “I remember watching your dad play.” Arvydas Sabonis’ son Domantas is in the league and has played pretty well for a rookie. He can stand to become a much better rebounder and will be at a disadvantage on that front against Trevor Booker.

Steven Adams’ shooting numbers are down, and we can point to where he’s taking his shots as the reason why. Last year, he took 72 percent of his shots inside of three feet. This year, only 50 percent of his shots have come from that range. He’s still a great offensive rebounder and the Nets will need to keep him off the glass. Brook Lopez’s defensive rebounding is down some, but he’s still around average in that area. On the other side of the ball, Lopez will get the ball a lot (perhaps moreso than usual) in an attempt to force Adams out and get Enes Kanter in.

Player to watch: Russell Westbrook

So, how’s Russ been doing as lead man...

Oh. It’s been that kind of season for Westbrook. He’s averaging close to a triple double a night (31 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 9.8 assists), shooting a career best from three point range, and is using up an astronomical 41 PERCENT of his team’s possessions (side note: check out the all time usage rate single season leaders on Basketball Reference. There are some head scratchers in the Top Ten.). Westbrook has to do everything for the Thunder, and so far he’s been more than up to the task.

Last night, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. It looked like a really fun event and this quote stood out to me:

"After witnessing the divisions and the challenges of our nation we have been facing for the past several months, I've realized this honor's not about me nor about the people in this room. Oklahoma is an unbelievable community. I'm so appreciative of the fact that the people of Oklahoma have been so supportive of welcoming my family and I. However, I feel there's always room to grow. I can be better, you can be better and we can be better together."

The people love Russ and Russ loves the people.

The unenviable job of guarding Russ will fall to Rondae Hollis Jefferson. He can be successful if he can bait Russ into taking contested three pointers and keeping him out of the lane. Granted, everybody says that, but maybe it’ll work this time. When Westbrook turns the ball over, the Nets need to capitalize and score quickly in transition.

From the Vault

Even though the Thunder lost this series to the Lakers, you could tell they were going to be great soon.

More reading: Welcome to Loud City