As expected, the Lakers held the home court advantage by taking the first two games of the series. The venue switches from the bright lights of Los Angeles to Oklahoma City, home of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum; a city said to have the best of the historic Old West and the vibrant energy of Bricktown, the city’s lively entertainment district.
In my opinion game three is the most pivotal game of the series. It doesn’t matter what happened in the first two games, meaning this game has to be approached as all important because of the significance and advantage gained by coming out with a win. When the series started, I felt that game three was the one game that the Thunder had the best chance of winning due to being able to feed off of raucous home crowd.
The game plan for the Lakers remains the same; get the ball inside to Pau Gasoland& Andrew Bynum in the painted area, take care of the ball, and get back in transition to limit the Thunder’s points in transition. The Lakers accomplished part of the game plan by taking care of the ball and holding the Thunder to 11 fastbreak points in game two.
The Thunder packed the painted area and disrupted the Lakers big men from dominating and the Lakers were slow to adjust. We saw a healthier Kobe Bryant score 39 points, 25 in the second half, take over the game in the fourth quarter, and allow the Lakers to escape with a win. This wasn’t a surprise to the Lakers Nation, to be honest there isn’t anything Kobe can do to surprise us anymore, it will simply adds to the legacy of the Hall of Famer to be also known as the Black Bamba.
It is imperative that the Lakers play this game with a high level of energy, a sense of urgency and execution. Kobe and Pau combined for 64 points. However, Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum, Derek Fisher, and Lamar Odom scored a grand total of 20 points. That type of production is unacceptable, it is imperative that these veterans have a greater impact on the outcome of the game.
Head Coach Phil Jackson has challenged Lamar Odom to step his game up and be more aggressive, I believe this will be a breakout game for him. The Lakers need to make it a point to get back in transition, stop the dribble penetration, control the tempo, knock down their free throws, take care of the ball, and run their offense using excellent ball movement as well as excellent player movement to find a high percentage shot. The Lakers also have to continue to attack the basket on every opportunity despite the Thunder posting an impressive 17 blocked shots.
Ron Artest is doing a solid job of defending Kevin Durant and making him work hard for his points, but he needs to stop shooting three point shots and look to score in the post. The Lakers reserves outscored the Thunder reserves 15 – 12, but the reserves need to contribute more. The Lakers can take can really push the young and talented Thunder team to the breaking point with a win tonight.
Every series in the Western Conference is tied, except this one, and hopefully by the end of the night that statement will remain true.
Tip-off: 6:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: TNT & KCAL 9 (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- Oklahoma City: TNT & FS Oklahoma (Brian Davis & Grant Long)
Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
Oklahoma City: 640 AM & 98.1 FM (Matt Pinto)
- Ron Artest (Left Heel Bruise/Sprained Left Thumb)
- Shannon Brown (Sprained Right Thumb)
- Kobe Bryant (Avulsion Fracture, Right Index Finger)
- Andrew Bynum (Left Achilles Strain)
- Sasha Vujacic (Severely Sprained Left Ankle) Out
- Luke Walton (Pinched Nerve, Back)
- Jordan Farmar (Strained Hamstring)
- D.J. Mbenga ( Eye Surgery)
- Nenad Kristic ( Bruised Knee) Listed as Day-to-Day