…and the hits just keep on coming, don’t they? If the coaching staff and team have some master plan behind this FOURTH 3+ game losing streak, I wish they’d share it with the rest of us because falling prey to five teams in a row after winning 17 of the previous 18 games is nothing but a mystery.
Maybe this was coming, with Golden State, Portland and Oklahoma City all winless against the Lakers until this point, they were all due for a victory. Those circumstances, however, speak more to the Lakers’ inability or unwillingness these past few games to play the right way, than it does those teams’ desperation not to be swept.
A win tonight would have helped put aside the previous four games, but the Lakers came out early on not appearing to want to expend any energy defending this young Thunder team. After the first quarter, OKC shot 64%. After the half, 62%. After three quarters, 58%. And they finished with 57% from the field to end the game. However Ron Artest defended Kevin Durant so effectively in their previous meetings, the young talent must have figured it out, going for 31 points on 11-15 shooting. And even though Durant’s running mate, Russell Westbrook went 8-20, he still managed to score 26 points, grab six rebounds and hand out seven assists.
After falling behind by 12 points in the first half, the Lakers made a run to before the break when the trash talking Kendrick Perkins kept Kobe Bryant in a headlock, resulting in double T’s. That instance fired up the team and by half-time, that double-digit lead was down to two.
Late in the third quarter, Steve Blake (9 points on 3-3) hit his second three pointer in the game to give the Lakers an 84-82 lead. Blake, then, opened the final quarter with another from downtown to push the lead up to five. The lead changed often throughout the fourth and it was anyone’s game. But then the stat that has plagued the Lakers in these last few losses resurfaced.
The Lakers went three quarters committing just one turnover. In the fourth quarter alone, they committed nine. 1 turnover in 36 minutes and 9 in the final 12?! In the last three minutes of the game, they committed 5 of those 9 turnovers. There were bad passes flying all over the court, Bryant stepped out of bounds and little Russell Westbrook knocked the ball out of Pau Gasol’s hands.
Bryant’s 31 points on 10-19, 4 rebounds and 4 assists was a great deal of help to the team tonight had he not turned the ball over three times in the final, crucial minutes of the game.
Pau Gasol’s 26 points on 10-15 – good stat line, right? Only if he hadn’t been outrebounded by 7-4 by Russell Westbrook. Again with the lack of efforts on the glass. Andrew Bynum (12 points on 4-9) took down 11 rebounds but Gasol and Odom combined for just seven? SEVEN REBOUNDS COMBINED. The Lakers, as a team, were outrebounded by the Thunder, and like it’s been said ad nauseum, a team with two seven footers and one 6’11” player, should never be outrebounded and here Gasol and Odom again tonight, lazy on the boards. The Lakers shot just 47% from the field. They missed 43 shots and grabbed just 10 offensive rebounds, less than a 25% effort to get some second chance points. But that, in a nutshell, was indicative of the home team’s perfomance tonight. They didn’t keep up with OKC’s energy, didn’t communicate on defense, and during the most crucial time of the game, decided to play the most careless.
Next up, San Antonio and with the way the Lakers are playing, it’s really difficult to determine what that game will look like. The playoffs, I must say, can’t come soon enough.
Pre-game Thoughts: The Lakers have lost some ground in the standings with this 4-game losing streak, and with OKC playing like they have been since the All-Star break, the home team can’t afford to lose another contest, especially against a potential playoff opponent. With Kendrick Perkins talking trash about Pau Gasol being soft, the Spaniard and his little big brother Andrew Bynum need to show the former Celtic that he’s barkin’ up the wrong championship tree.
Half-time Thoughts: 66-64 – It was obvious from the start which team wanted this game more, and unfortunately for the Laker fans, it wasn’t the guys in white. The Lakers were getting run out of their homecourt quickly, but after getting tangled up with Kendrick Perkins, Kobe Bryant started a 7-0 run that cut the 12-point OKC lead to just five, and then on to get within two points before the half ended. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant scored 50 of the Lakers’ points, but even then gave up 62% shooting to the Thunder. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant have been unstoppable, scoring half of the Thunder’s points. Other than the late run to close the
Most Thoughtless Play(s)/Player(s) of the Game: The Laker reserves minus Steve Blake – Odom/Brown/Barnes/Walton combined for a whopping 11 points on 4-17.
Most Thought-filled Play(s)/Player(s) of the Game: Andrew Bynum played the most minutes and looked the most aggressive out there. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol scored a lot, but Gasol’s FOUR rebounds and Bryant’s FOUR turnovers?