The Lakers had a good start; got off to a 13-7 lead early in the first quarter. Unfortunately, good starts don’t always have good endings, especially when everything in between is nothing but awful.
After a timeout by OKC early in the game, the chance to win was as good as gone for the visitors. No combination of players on the floor seemed to produce anything to match the Thunder, not even an appearance by Chris Kaman, who racked up a pile of DNP-Coach’s Decision statuses the last few weeks.
Kobe Bryant sat on the bench with a blank look on his face in the fourth quarter. His team, depleted due to injury (yet again), was down 30 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was an inevitable end though, was it not? Who didn’t think the Lakers would get stomped by a team who has a 17-4 record coming into tonight’s game? And it was a stomping; a 122-97 type stomping.
Kobe Bryant – His final stat line is the oddest it will ever look. Four points on 2-6 from the field, zero free throw attempts, zero threes attempted and 13 assists. Obviously, this isn’t the stat line that has helped Bryant win games in his career, but he was charged to do a job, and he did it. The seven turnovers aside, he was asked to play a facilitator role, and facilitated in the form of 13 dimes in 23 minutes of playing time.
Pau Gasol – He’s been complaining about running the offense through the inside again; through him, and Mike D’Antoni said that Gasol could have the post if he wanted. He went 6-10 for his 14 points tonight, but like we’ve desired from Gasol the last few years, he really could have done more.
Bench – Win or lose, the bench seems to be the most consistent part of the Lakers’ play this season, regardless of how often the members off the pine change. Tonight they outscored OKC’s bench 51-45, led by Nick Young’s 17 points on 6-13, 4-7 from behind the arc; and Xavier Henry’s 15 points. Henry got to the free throw line 16 times.
Free Throws – The Lakers got to the line eight more times than OKC, but missed almost half of their attempts. 18-31 from the charity stripe compared to the Thunder’s near-perfect 20-23.
Rebounds – A 59-41 disparity on the glass. The rebounding has been a real issue for this Laker team. In the good ol’ days (when the Lakers were at the top of the heap), rebounding was a high priority, because it reflected something simple, yet significant – effort. The Laker big men – Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre and Kaman – combined for 20 rebounds, and the remaining seven players combined for just 21. Sacre led the team with eight.
Threeball – The Lakers are “lucky” that OKC shot as badly from behind the arc (8-25) as they did (7-25). Otherwise, that 30 point lead in the fourth quarter might’ve been much larger. Jodie Meeks, who was the Lakers’ leading scorer and one of the most efficient from three on the team, went just 2-7 from downtown tonight and Wes Johnson just 1-6.
Turnovers – 19 turnovers turned into 31 points for OKC.
The Lakers needed to play a near-perfect game in order to compete with the Thunder. Looking at the stat sheet, there were areas that OKC did not completely dominate. Points in the paint were just 56-50 (OKC), second chance points just 14-19 (again, OKC), and the Lakers even outscored the Thunder 22-18 in fast break points. There were, however, just too many low points.
The Lakers allowed OKC to finish the first quarter 38-28, but in the quarters thereafter, their point-totals were identical – 28-23. As delusional as it is to even think this, had the Lakers’ good start lasted longer than four and a half minutes, this game might’ve had a less severe ending.
They are short-handed, to say the very least. It’s bad enough to be missing three rotation players at one time, but to lose three in the same position? What cruel world would allow a team to have such a positive start, only to take it away so abruptly 25% into the season?
Tomorrow they get another crack at a victory, but so far, the Kobe return has been 0-3.