Western Conference Semifinals – Game Two
It is May 16, 2012 and the (3) Los Angeles Lakers are set to make the necessary adjustments and get back into the series against the (2) OKC Thunder. The Lakers looked old and tired and in need of a collective B12 shot against the young, rested and well-coached OKC Thunder team en route to a 119-90 blow out. The Lakers, a tired and weary team from a long grueling seven-game series with the Nuggets and were simply outplayed.
The Thunder had a nine-day layoff after quickly dispatching the defending champion Dallas Mavericks in four games. Before the game, the question of rest versus rust arose, after the game it was clear that OKC was ‘lying in wait’ for L.A.
Russell Westbrook, the 23-year old former Leuzinger High Olympian & UCLA Bruin is a blur, dangerous on the perimeter; this All-Star’s game has matured. Defensively, the Lakers are in need of multiple efforts on the pick-and-roll play and the guards have to fight over the screen or trap the pick and roll.
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and OKC’s hot shooting and bench scoring were too much for the Lakers in game one. It is easy to say that the Lakers have to control the impact of the trio of Durant, Westbrook and Harden, but much a harder task to accomplish.
The Lakers have to put the game one debacle behind them and correct their mistakes. L.A.’s defense on the pick-and-roll play has to improve dramatically. It is imperative that the Lakers play with more energy, control the tempo, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, get back in transition, contest shots and control the boards.
The Thunder led the league in turnovers; however, that was not a factor with only four in game one. The Lakers have to do a better job of pressuring the ball and getting into the passing lanes to cause turnovers. Offensively, the Lakers ball movement and player movement has to improve.
The ball has to go inside to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol; both are in need of more touches and have to be much more aggressive when the ball gets inside. OKC is doing a good job of denying passes to the post and literally sitting in both Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol’s laps daring the Lakers to make perimeter shots and L.A. has failed to do so with any consistency.
Ramon Sessions was non-existent in game one and has to be more of a factor. Sessions has to be able to attack Russell Westbrook off the dribble and get into the paint. The Lakers have to make protecting the paint a team effort with everyone getting involved. The Lakers reserves will have to step their game up and knock down shots.
Lakers: R. Sessions, K. Bryant, M. Peace, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Thunder: R. Westbrook, T. Sefolosha, K. Durant, S. Ibaka, K. Perkins
Tip-off: 6:30 pm pst
- Los Angeles: TNT
- Oklahoma City: TNT
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
- Oklahoma City: 640 AM & 98.1 FM (Matt Pinto)
- Matt Barnes (Sprained Right Ankle) Probable
- Devin Ebanks (Middle & Ring Finger Contusions, Left Hand) Probable
- Eric Maynor (Torn Right ACL) Out