NBA schedule: The spotlight lands on the Lakers and Thunder

USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder battle it out Tuesday with different types of motivation.

The Los Angeles Lakers have climbed back to .500, but a road matchup on Tuesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder that could give them a winning record is a mighty challenge.

The Lakers have the playoffs on the mind and are only two games back of the Utah Jazz, which is currently the eighth-place team in the Western Conference playoff race. But the Thunder has the motivation of the top seed being up for grabs following the San Antonio Spurs' loss of point guard Tony Parker to an ankle injury.

Oklahoma City is clicking and coming off a physical win against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

The Lakers and Thunder go at it at 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT, but they'll be preceded in the national spotlight by the Boston Celtics' visit to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics are a game and a half behind the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference's sixth spot, while the 76ers have lost eight of their last nine games.

Also on the Tuesday night schedule, the Sacramento Kings -- winners in two of their last three games -- host the red-hot Denver Nuggets, who sit quietly and sturdily at fifth place in the Western Conference.

Tuesday schedule

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Time: 7 p.m. ET

TV: TNT

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Time: 9:30 p.m. ET

TV: TNT

Denver Nuggets vs. Sacramento Kings

Time: 10 p.m. ET

TV: Altitude Sports

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