Shootaround: Time to shine

  Score Time Off. Rtg. eFG% O.Reb.% TO% FTR
L.A. Lakers 105 Final 111.0 48.1 36.4 14.5 51.9
Oklahoma City 122 Pace: 94.6 129.0 52.1 31.8 1.8 25.0

Kobe Bryant (LAL) — 30 pts, 8/19 FGs
Russell Westbrook (OKC) — 37 pts, 10 rebs, 5 assts

 Los Angeles Lakers (30-30) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (43-16)
9:30 p.m./TNT

The Lakers have made it back to .500. That normally is not a cause celebre in Laker-land, not with that Hall of Fame lineup and those championship expectations. Yet, Sunday's win over Atlanta proved to be an important morale-boosting win for the Lakers. Getting back to .500 is a sign Los Angeles is closer to its goal.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/ZimbioThat goal might be just making the playoffs at the moment. That is something nobody thought they would say.

The goal is indeed getting closer and the Lakers are making ground. But for every step forward Los Angeles seems to make, the team meets a road block that keeps it from getting over the top. Not to mention that the Jazz and the Rockets have to help by losing soem games to allow Los Angeles to get back into the Playoff picture.

The Lakers though inevitably will not have home court advantage. So winning on the road against one of the top teams in the West is a must for this team.

Enter tonight's game against Oklahoma City.

The Lakers have proven able to beat the Thunder at Staples Center this year. They are capable. And no team at the top of the West has to want to see the Lakers lining up against them in mid-April.

None of that will matter if the Lakers do not score that victory over the Thunder in Oklahoma City. Tonight's game may not only be a Playoff preview, it might be a huge confidence boost for the Lakers heading to the postseason.

Other Storylines to Watch

-The Thunder have officially signed Derek Fisher and there is some turmoil about this signing. He originally signed with the Mavericks at the beginning of the season but left shortly thereafter to be with his family. Now with the Playoffs heating up, he decided to come back. But with the Thunder. Mark Cuban and Dallas was admittedly peeved. Fisher though said he was being honest at the time. Just like he is now.

-Dwight Howard is continuing to go out of his way to infuriate Magic fans. He told the Los Angeles CBS affiliate that his teams in Orlando were full of players nobody wanted. The Lakers play the Magic in Orlando on March 12.

Tonight's Other Games

  Score Time Off. Rtg. eFG% O.Reb.% TO% FTR
Boston 109 Pace: 100.0 109.0 57.2 31.6 19.6 19.3
Philadelphia 101 Final 98.1 43.5 33.9 11.5 18.0

Paul Pierce (BOS) — 18 pts, 11 rebs, 7 assts
Thaddeus Young (PHI) — 19 pts, 10 rebs

Boston Celtics (31-27) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (23-35)
7 p.m./TNT

The Celtics roster seems to be an ever-shifting thing. Shavlik Randolph was just recently signed and so was Terrence Williams. It is all part of the plan to stay in the Playoff race and boost a depleted backcourt while helping give Kevin Garnett some time off. What the truth might actually be is that Boston is not the team it used to be and is holding on to whatever they can.

  Score Time Off. Rtg. eFG% O.Reb.% TO% FTR
Denver 120 Pace: 98.1 122.4 58.8 31.0 10.8 37.6
Sacramento 113 Final 111.5 52.9 34.1 15.6 32.9

Ty Lawson (DEN) — 24 pts, 7 assts
Marcus Thornton (SAC) — 32 pts, 5/11 3FGs

Denver Nuggets (39-22) vs. Sacramento Kings (21-40)
10 p.m.

Kevin Johnson's coalition to keep basketball in Sacramento is growing. Former Kings guard Mitch Richmond is joining the group hoping to buy the Kings from the Maloofs. The deal also will include the option to try and bring a WNBA team back to Sacramento after the Monarch folded a few years ago. The Kings' fans have also planned another Here We Buy night to sell out Power Balance Pavilion.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily