NBA Playoffs: 2012 What to Look for in Game 3 Matchup in Los Angeles

Tonight is a do or die night for the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

After blowing a late lead in Game 2, the Lakers are fighting for both their lives and dignity at home in Game 3. As the night progresses, be sure to look for a couple things.

1. Defense Above All

Throughout the course of the season, it's often been hard to determine whether the Laker offense or defense is better. (Both are very mediocre at times.)

As the old adage goes, "defense wins championships," it is vital for the Lakers to focus on stopping the league's leading scorer, Kevin Durant, and his band of extremely talented offensive bodies.

Game 2 was an excellent example of defensive dominance, as the Lakers held the Thunder to a mere 77 points. If not for some late-game heartbreak, the defense would've been sufficient for a road win. Look for the Lakers to repeat the defensive emphasis for Game 3, with the expectation that they will hit a few more shots this time around.

2. Smart Fouling

If anything, many questionable calls have occurred over the past two games, such is the nature of universal poor officiating and almost unquestionable home-court advantage.

Shaky calls should improve at Staples Center tonight, but smart fouling must also be used in conjunction with home court. Excellent free-throw shooters such as Durant or James Harden shouldn't be hit on breakaways that most likely will result in momentum killing and-one situations.

For both the sake of player mentality and the avoidance of foul trouble late in the game, expect coach Mike Brown to encourage smart fouling with his Laker squad.

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