It was an early indication of things to come. First, there was the long two over the outstretched arms of Thabo Sefolosha. Then it was a putback after a Derek Fisher miss. On this night, Kobe Bryant would not wait for his opportunity to shoot, nor decide to play facilitator first, scorer second. Tonight, Kobe walked straight up to the hoop and set up their date.

Mamba was due tonight and the Lakers would be happy to witness.

Kobe still shot only 12-28 from the field, but 42% is a vast improvement from the 30+% he had been shooting in the last few games.

The Lakers defense limited the Oklahoma City Thunder to 28% shooting in the first quarter and 39.2% for the game. The home team led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter, and they forced 17 turnovers in all for the visiting team. It would be quite the staggering stat if the Lakers hadn’t collected 18 of their own turnovers.

In Round 2 of his attempt at limiting Kevin Durant, Ron Artest continued to hound the league’s leading scorer. Shooting 12-26, Kevin still managed to get 32 points but also suffered eight turnovers. Whatever it was that bothered Kevin in Game 1, seemed to wane as Game 2 progressed. He found ways to move past or around his defenders, shoot over Ron Artest, or just ram right through them to get to the hoop.

It will continue to be a difficult task for whoever is assigned to guard someone as talented as Kevin Durant, but the Lakers will lean on Ron and he has to ask for help on defense when it’s necessary. There’s only so many ways to stop such a gifted scorer.

The Lakers did a good job keeping Russell Westbrook at bay. He still had 19 points from 5-10 shooting, but he played only 29 minutes due to early foul trouble thanks in part to Derek Fisher. He’s still being allowed to penetrate to the basket, which is something the Laker bigs need to prepare for in the coming games.

Other than Pau Gasol, who finished with 25 points on 8-14, 12 rebounds and 2 assists, the Laker bigs were not a prominent factor in tonight’s win. Andrew Bynum only attempted nine shots to get his six points, but he did collect 10 rebounds. Lamar Odom, again coming off the bench, had only four points and eight rebounds. In order to ensure the success of this series for the Lakers, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum have to produce more; more scoring, more rebounds, more blocks.

And speaking of blocks, the Thunder collected 17 tonight. The Lakers poor field goal percentage 37.5% was due in large part to the blocking proficiency of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The game came down to the very last few seconds. Like in Game 1, each time the Lakers would create a lead, the Thunder would come rolling in with another run to catch up or take the lead themselves. In the end, the Lakers leaned on their defense to carry them to victory. Whether it was Ron poking the ball from behind, out of Kevin’s hand and into Shannon Brown’s; or perhaps Pau’s huge defensive rebound while the clock ran out — the beginners knew how to get the party started, but the veterans knew how to end with a bang. 92-95, 2 down, 14 to go.

It took the entire game, but on the evening of Chick Hearn’s statue unveiling, the Lakers eventually did shut that refrigerator door and yes, the Jell-O was left to jiggle.

Pre-game Thoughts: Worked all season to get it — protect your home court, Lakers.

Half-time Thoughts: Thunder pulled out a 21-8 run in the 2nd quarter to overtake the Lakers’ 11-point lead. Hopefully the Thunder’s momentum rubs off on their opponents!

Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: Derek Fisher and Ron Artest, who combined 2-11 from downtown. There is absolutely no excuse for veteran players to jack up 3-pointers when there is a whole shot clock left to get a better opportunity for a basket.

Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: Kobe Bryant — 43% shooting isn’t close to his most accurate season shooting percentage, but considering that he’s been shooting in the 30% range before tonight, this is encouraging. Those 39 points to lead all scores surely helped get this win.

  • 242LakerFan

    Good job as usual, Anna. I agree with you on the early clock 3-jacking, that gets really annoying. Props as well for crediting Artest’s defense on Durant. He still scored, but he worked his narrow ass off for every point and Ron got to him for some key turnovers.
    What you left out, I think, was that Bynum’s lack of production was mainly due to a remarkable lack of touches in the post. I don’t know why they aren’t trying to ride the bigs as much as they can, given the major advantage they have. And that means feeding Bynum the ball inside because he doesn’t have the skill away from the basket that Pau has. He’s a yard dog, not a hunter like Pau. You have to feed him. And plenty.
    What jumped out at me again in this game, though, is the pointed lack of respect Kobe gets from the refs. Yes, they allow him to jaw at them probably more than any other player, but they also give him more reason to than anyone else. I have never seen one of the best players (if not THE best player) in the league get fewer calls. I’m not even talking about 50/50 calls, like that blocking foul on the break (which looked a hell of a lot like a charge to me), but obvious calls like the drive attempt when Jeff Green (I think) nearly ripped his right arm off and the refs all seemed to have swallowed their whistles. That was really blatant! What really ticks me off is that they’ll probably review that and fine him for that swing he took at the dude!
    Anyway, that’s my two cents (which is better than the $35-50K I would be getting hit with if I were Phil today)!

    • WifelovesLuke

      Bigs were a non factor because the Thunder were packing in the lane and daring LA to shoot outside. Unfortunately the 2-11 from Fish and Artest just gave the Thunder no need to change the game plan for game 3

    • SliqRiq

      100% agree with you especially in regards to Kobe!!! The league always has and still hates on him.
      IMO its cuz he came too fast after Jordan the league and fans were still in awe of his greatness then Kobe comes right afterwards and is able to do the same as MJ and the league really started to go against him the night he dropped 55 in 3 quaters on MJ in MJ’s so called farewell tour at the Staples Center when he was with the Wizards guess the NBA looked at it as a sign of disrespect….. Whatever though Kobe is simply “The Best Ever” who gets no respect from the NBA!!!!

  • Thundercat

    Big Deal. OKC will win the next four games. GO THUNDER(BOOOOOOM!!!)

    • LakerMarc

      Hey Douche The stat is something like 93% of the time that a team goes up 2-0 in the Playoffs that the team leading wins. GO THUNDER!!!!!!!(BOOOOOM) ELIMINATED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • JUICE

    It is a big deal P U S S Y! If it wasn’t a big deal, then both the thunder and the Lakers wouldn’t have wanted to win that game so badly! The Lakers just protected homecourt advantage, so yeah… A VERY BIG DEAL!

    And as far as your “GO THUNDER(BOOOOOOM!!!)”, yeah… all noise, but no rain! The only rain that you’ll see is the flurry of shots that the Mamba will drop on duranny the tranny and crew! And the eventual rain on their parade!

  • KindSir

    *sigh* I wish that we would have made an example out of them in either of those games, but we didn’t. Hopefully they don’t bend us over in OKC… And I agree about feeding the bigs. Why the hell isn’t it happening much more often? Is it really a better game plan to go 6-19 or 12-28?

    • LakerMarc

      Yeah exactly…I don’t know if it was Phil’s idea cuz Maybe he thought that OKC would anticipate that would happen because they did it so much on Sunday, but the lobbing and posting just didnt happen to the extent that it did in Game 1. Watch them go back to that alot on Thursday. GO LAKERS!!!

      In front of that hostile OKC white honky trash audience.

    • lakersthe2010champs

      If I were the Thunder coach, I’d dare Artest, Odom and Fish to shoot from outside by collapsing inside, and making Pau and Bynum difficult to operate. The Lakers role players need to improve their basketball fundamentals in shooting the ball to make the game a lot easier for them.

      • WifelovesLuke

        Um….that’s exactly what the Thunder coach DID do in game 2 and judging by the 2-11 from Fish and Artest from 3pt territory, the game plan won’t change much in game 3. Heck, you might even see the Thunder switch to a 2-3 zone and stay in the paint until the Lakers can consistently knock down shots from outside. Just sayin!

  • lakersthe2010champs

    Good that the Lakers won. But the Lakers can’t seem to shoot besides Kobe and Pau. It’s painful to watch Odom, Artest and Fish to shoot like that. We will need everyone to contribute otherwise we will be bounced against the Nuggets.

    • LakerMarc

      Yes fo’ sho’ and to finish when they attempt a Layup and if Artest is struggling at the 3-point line…. STOP SHOOTING FROM THE 3-POINT LINE AND PASS IT!!!!! I don’t really consider Ron a shooter like Fish but both really need to stop doing that. It just seems to get rebounded by the opponent and then off to the other side… wasted effort on that posession. Kobe looks so good out there and he’s just going to get crisper. RELIEF!!!!

  • nope

    Luke , 3 fouls in 5 minutes

    • WifelovesLuke

      My wife was so dissappointed. lol

      • TOUCHING_MYSELF

        She wasn’t the only one! Hahaha! Here’s the thing, whether you like Luke or not, while he’s in a Lakers uni… you’ve gotta root for him and hope that he has a career night every time out! At least no turnovers though! And with 2 assists, you know that he’s contributed to 2 buckets for the Lakes!

        Haha. Trying to see the positives!

        GO LAKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Toni

    All I can say about Kobe in the 2nd Half is: “HE’S BAAAACCCCCKKKKKK!!” … And not soon enough! GO LAKERS!!!!!