It is hard to believe how much the “top seed” Los Angeles Lakers can miss playing in Staples Center. I understand the Oklahoma City Thunder can play extremely well at home, but I never realized how badly they can beat the Lakers, especially during an NBA Playoff game.

The Lakers entered Game 2 with momentum and looked to essentially lock up the series by going up 3-0. The first half was won by the Lakers 50-43; that defensive urgency was present and the effort was paying off. The Thunder were shooting only 32%, but as usual, the Lakers slipped and the Thunder capitalized. The game was eventually lost 101-96 and defense was our Achilles’ heel.

Some said the Thunder crowd was a factor in the game, however, no NBA champion should let a crowd affect their play. The two losses this series have come from the defensive let down by the Lakers. “We have to play with better effort. We have to play better as a unit.” Ron on the Lakers in Game 2. “We needed to get some stops as a unit and we didn’t. They had some good momentum going. They just woke up. They were asleep for a minute, but they woke up. They just took advantage.”

The Lakers will learn from their mistakes, right? They will step up their defense in game 4, right? Wrong. Unlike the previous three games the Thunder jumped on the Lakers from the opening tip, reminiscent to the game on March 26, where the Thunder pounded on the Lakers and never gave up a lead. The Lakers continued their struggles and were trailing 55-42 at the half.

The Thunder were just out hustling the Lakers and faced no defensive pressure from any player in a Purple & Gold uniform. The Thunder waltzed their way to the finish line and tied the series up with a 110-89 victory.

Not only did Durant scored 22 points and sit out the entire fourth quarter, the other Thunder players stepped up and led them to victory. James Harden was scoreless in the first two games but dropped a total of 33 points in both games 3 and 4. The Thunder bench out performed the Laker bench in both games at Oklahoma Ciry; they scored 69 points as the Lakers’ reserves scored only 49.

The two losses can be blamed on the Lakers defense or even their lack of effort and hustle. The Thunder “wanted” the victory; they dived on the floor for loose balls and did all the little things in order to tie the series. “There’s not much to say about this game. They took it to us tonight.” Phil Jackson on the game. “They beat us to the ball. They ran the court…We started off the second half as bad as you could start off with Kobe (Bryant) fouling and getting them two points on the foul. And then Fish (Derek Fisher) missing two down there at the other end and it just tumbled from there. It was a pretty good meltdown.”

If the Lakers want to win the series, they cannot rely on their talent alone; winning a game requires hustle and a determination to succeed. It is quite extraordinary that the Lakers will return to Staples Center tied 2-2; it is hard to believe that the Lakers are losing their swagger and the Thunder have a chance to win the series.

Judging from the two games in the Ford Center, the Lakers will have to fight in order to win the series. It is clear that the Lakers cannot “flip the switch” when needed, they must play aggressive basketball from the opening tip.

The story outside Staples was not a good one, the next time they play in Oklahoma, lets pray the Lakers will be up 3-2 and the Haunted Hotel will not cast anymore spells.

Follow Ramneet Singh on Twitter @RamneetKB24.

  • MetalliDethSlayThrax

    Shhhh! I was wondering something and I didn’t want it to get around. Just wondering here but is there any buyer’s remorse with Kobe’s new 3yr extension? With all the FA’s out there I’m just saying…….shhhhh!

  • daniel

    What kobe really needs is a 3 full months vacation and a good treatment to heal all injures that he has dealt with…I was checking out the free agent list 2010-2011 and see really good players that can easily match laker´s needs…Lakers could easily bring raymond felton and Al harrington to their roster and would be a fantastic upgrade…Of course lakers should take away their garbage (sasha, powel, farmar) asap!!!…Go lakers!!!!

    • LakerMarc

      Don’t forget Luke, Adam, and Shannon (aside from dunking really, let’s be 100% honest).

  • justdogm1

    sucks to be DR.BUSS………..BUYERS REMORSE AND THEN SOME.

  • hoop247

    KOBE will go off on the thunders in game 5 and 6. He is beyond mad and angry. Fuc the injuries, he’ll dunk on both westbrook and durant sorry asses. Fuc em all.

    • LakerMarc

      Here come the delusions again, I for one LOVE KOBE BRYANT AND EVERYTHING HE HAS COME TO REPRESENT. As a player ages, there comes a time when their effectiveness wanes, this may not be it, but it may, it may be even worse next year. Everyone keeps talking like he needs to rest but let me remind everyone THAT KOBE DID REST after they won the championship and he even mentioned to Ahmad Rashad that he took months off where he didnt even touch a basketball and talked about how he hadn’t done that in years.

    • kevin 0

      thats the attitude

  • LakerMarc

    Personally Kobe isn’t old to me, 31 or 32 isnt old and in the case of Kobe Bryant I don’t see his performance dropping until maybe after 35. It may really just be the injuries, Yeah sure he played thru them FANTASTICALLY, for about 18 months as if there weren’t any, but at some point they are bound to have their effect on him, and this is it.

  • JT

    I’m disappointed, but not worried. The Lakers were the champions last season. This season is a big question, let’s see how they respond. Right now, they are facing adversity, this is the time when we will see if they really are champions.

    It’s nothing new. Back in 2000, the Lakers looked unbeatable through the first two games against the 8th seeded Kings. When the series shifted to Arco Arena, the Lakers didn’t see what was coming. Sacramento was the better team in all aspects in those two games. To quote Doug Collins, “…the Lakers are unraveling right now in the face of this pressure.”. In the fifth and deciding game, the Lakers came out firing on all cylinders. The game ended with the Lakers on top by 27, thanks to Shaq’s 32 points and 18 rebounds.

    Remember game 7 of the Houston series, when the Lakers dominated the whole game? That’s what’s gonna happen.

  • seankobe

    the problem with lakers is they have too many players who wants to score kobe,pau,bynum,odom, and some bench player. In jordans era he doesn’t have the so called twin tower but with rodman thinking defensively and and a 6’10” rebounding prowess, kukoch 3 point shot, and second option and defensive minister in pippen and jordan the assasin. with that group they captured the 2nd 3peat…Lakers is different! 2 7 footers, 6′ 11 forward and yet out rebounded by the youngs and not so tall thunders and oklahoma has more blocks in this series…phil wants kobe to pound the ball inside and make him a facilitator, jordan will never do that which is to become a 3rd option and be a facilitator, jordan never was! so kobe decided not to take a shot in the first qrtr waiting for his teammates to get it done until they were done in the first half.. Pau will always be soft and bynum is lazy in defense if he dont get to score and lamar will always be odumd. They may surpassed this series but I’m in doubt of them making the finals, and next season will be a much more problem with lakers as pau will complain kobe again….this summer pau or bynum must be traded to any one of them must go, and odom for noah!

    • seankobe

      oh I just said odumb for noah! forget the versatility it’s overated lets put some hustle in which pau,bynum, and odumb doesn’t have.

  • http://thelakersnation.com/blog/category/original-articles/the-purple-line/ Ramneet Singh

    In how many games do you have the series ending?

  • hoop247

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzrHadF_FUE
    WATCH THIS AND GET FIRED UP

  • ll

    The series will end in 6 both ways. I think the winner of game 5 will win game 6.

  • Karman Narain