Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Step aside, young fellas – the old geezers are coming through…and they haven’t forgotten how they beat you last time.

For all the criticism that the Lakers get for being unable to keep up with the younger, more athletic teams in the league, you’d think they were using walkers to get up and down the court. The known fact is the Lakers are not a running team. Their strength is not in the fast break, but in the halfcourt. They beat you with patience, not speed. The Lakers failed to play to their strengths in the final quarter of yesterday’s loss against the Clippers, and they paid the price. Tonight, there were no ultra-dramatic runs, no fights, and, surprisingly, no technicals. The Lakers just played their game, their pace, and the young Thunder paid price.

Kevin Durant must have nightmares about Ron Artest. In last season’s first round of playoffs, Artest defended Durant into shooting just 35% from the field for the series, and tonight, it was business as usual. Durant leads the league in points and regardless of how badly he’s shooting, he’s still going to find a way to score. But damned if Artest didn’t make it a struggle for the NBA phenom to get the ball in the hoop. Tonight, Durant scored 24 points but needed 24 attempts to get there; below his average of 28.5 ppg on 48% shooting for the season.

With Durant struggling from the field, Russell Westbrook took it upon himself to keep the Thunder competitive. With 32 points on 12-23, not much could stop the young UCLA product from driving to the hoop, and he even handed out 12 assists, as if he hadn’t done enough. But it wasn’t enough. Westbrook and Durant carrying the offensive load for the Thunder will not always be enough. Aside from this dynamic duo, the only other player who scored in double digits was Serge Ibaka with 11 points. Other than the disparity in production, Oklahoma City also fell at the mercy of their putrid 3-point shooting, which was just 2-22 for 9.1%!

The Lakers shot quite well from behind the arc, 7-14. Actually, they shot well from everywhere BUT the free throw line (18-26). At halftime, the Lakers shot 53% from the field and they finished with 50%. Five players scored in double figures and the team assisted on 24 of their 38 makes. Efficient distribution of the rock!

Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher looked like their young selves, combining for 36 points on 12-22, seven rebounds, 10 assists and three steals. Bryant drove in time and again, blowing dust in the face of Thabo Sefalosha, at times to lay it up, other times to dunk with both hands. Sefalosha was no match for Mamba’s wiles tonight; falling for the fake/blow-by all evening. Bryant finished with 21 points on 7-12, not to mention seven assists. He was keen on getting his teammates involved tonight, in however way he could, and they were better for it. Bryant was seen talking to Ron Artest after he passed up an open shot with four seconds left on the shot clock. He also approached Pau Gasol, hitting him on the chest in encouragement after the Spaniard hesitated before shooting a jumper that gave the Lakers a 10-point lead late in fourth. Bryant’s leadership isn’t just about setting up shots. Defending champions or not, reassurance is never a bad thing, especially when it comes from your captain.

The Lakers’ other captain, Derek Fisher, had one of his more efficient games of the season, going 5-10 for his 15 points and adding three assists for kicks. Fisher was 2-3 from behind the arc, and as tough an assignment as Westbrook is, still played scrappy defense, managing to strip both Jeff Green and Westbrook in the process.

The Laker big are not to be overlooked. Pau Gasol poured in 21 points on 8-19, grabbed seven rebounds, two assists and three blocks. The Thunder tried to keep the Lakers out of the paint, but Gasol’s got other weapons – like a sweet jumper that rarely hits anything but twine.

Despite getting into foul trouble, Andrew Bynum still managed to contribute 10 points on 5-8, as well as 10 rebounds. Fouls have plagued Bynum the last few games. Either the officials have it in for him, or he’s got to learn to defend more effectively without making (obvious) contact. It’s not an easy task, of course, when you’re 7’1” and 285 lbs.

Lamar Odom, who’s been a the Lakers’ most dependable player this season, win or lose, chipped in his usual effort – 16 points on 6-9, seven rebounds, a pair of assists, a steal and a block. Put this man on the All-Star team. He deserves it!

After such a sour ending to their last game, tonight was a great win for the Lakers. It’s true; they’re one of the oldest teams in the league. Their starting five has a combined 43 years of NBA experience and 11 of their 15-man roster is 30 years old and over. But sometimes, winning isn’t just about how young you are, how fast you can run, how high you can jump or how much the backboard shakes when you dunk. Like the Lakers showed today, winning is a lot more about how well you know yourself, how well you know your team and how well you know your opponent.

Let’s see how well the Lakers know Dallas on Wednesday…

Box Score
Pre-game Thoughts:
The Lakers let one get away yesterday, and tonight they face another young team in the OKC Thunder. The Lakers must match the Thunder’s energy and they simply must play up their advantages – inside game, passing ability and veteran savvy. Watch out for OKC’s run-outs. They do it…A LOT.
Half-time Thoughts: 55-58 – Both teams are capitalizing on their strengths; the Thunder with their fastbreaks and the Lakers with their post game. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are the only players with double-digit points for the Thunder. They have 34 of OKC’s 55. Lamar Odom leads the Lakers with 12 points, and Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol have 10 points each. Second half should be a good one.
Most Thoughtless of the Game: The Lakers’ free throw shooting (18-26) – In a close game, such as tonight’s, missing almost a third from the charity stripe could be costly in the end. The Lakers are fortunate they shot so well from the field.
Most Thought-filled of the Game: Ron Artest, for being the Durantula stopper. Durant shot just 8-24 from the field.

  • Guildtank

    It’s great that Lakers beat a meaningful team. However, I do not like the late game turnovers and missed free throws by Kobe. Also, Pau hasn’t been exactly efficient on 8-19 shooting. We need to string a few wins against teams above .500 to convince me that we are back on track.

  • SHOWTIME4EVA

    we played more like a complete team tonight.better than we have played in awhile.

  • 242LakerFan

    This was great, especially after the let-down of Sunday’s fourth quarter nap time.
    This was a good game. The Lakers played a complete game. Not a perfect game, but a game you’d expect from a team with this much talent, experience and depth. And this against a tough, young, athletic team that we know can beat us.
    On that point, I want to point out that losing to the Clippers is not the same as losing to Milwaukee. That team is playing their asses off recently and have beaten most of the top teams in the league this year. Plus they have my favourite player in the league who doesn’t wear purple and gold, Blake, the Beast, Griffin.
    But last night showed that we have turned a corner and maybe we are ready to make that second half push at least at catching Boston. We don’t need home court to beat the Spurs, who will be our main competition in the West, but I’d rather not go up against Boston (who, barring an act of God will win the East again) without that edge of having Game 7 in Staples. Then again, a celebration on their floor would be awesome!
    And before anyone says I’m getting ahead of myself…well, yeah, so what?

  • Lakers_The_Truth

    It was a good win against a quality team. Lakers need to beat at least once the top 3 in the East and the Spurs and Dallas to assert themselves as a legit contender.
    I don’t care much for HCA against any team but Boston. Hopefully at the end we will be ahead of them if they make to the finals.
    They are a deep team like us and can be an issue.
    That said the key for us is Pau playing with fire and desire. When he brings that to the table we always win. The Spaniard is huge for us. Bynum is doing very well. He needs couple of things…stay healthy and be out of foul trouble.

    • 242LakerFan

      69% of the players polled say the Lakers will win again and we have to justify ourselves to you? Okay, sure.

      • Lakers_The_Truth

        not a matter to justify to me bonehead.
        It’s more a matter to make sure the top teams now can see the Lakers as the real thing. Their losing streak wasn’t a good thing and many teams now feel they can beat the champs.
        While I do see this LAkers team improving specially at the playoffs, we need o beat Spurs, Boston and Miami to send a message.

        • 242LakerFan

          Yeah, I know what mean, my point was that the players still respect the Lakers, almost three to one. You do have a point, but it isn’t as bad as you think.
          Oh, and don’t pay any attention to my bonehead. I just use it to keep people from seeing my brain and getting jealous. Heheheh.

  • Tommy Vercetti

    See Comment number 1 and the one above me is why I hate How I can tell the difference between a REAL fan and a FAKE fam You steady say You want us to win against a Good Team we win against a good team AND YOU FUCKIN COMPLAIN ABOUT HOW WE WON? THAT”S BULLSHIT AND THEN YA”LL SAY WE NEED MORE WINS TO MAKE US LEGIT.
    MAKE US LEGIT??? REALLY? IF 3 STRAIGHT FINALS AND 2 STRAIGHT WINS AINT LEGIT WE’LL NEVER BE LEGIT

    Lastly we win lose Ya’ll Flood the comments but when we win…….Crickets chirp

    • DCLakeshow

      I’ll disagree with you on this. As a Laker fan, we shouldn’t settle for average play, especially, when we have such a talented line up. By you logic, when Phil Jackson says after a win, “I still don’t think we accomplished anything, and we have tons of room for improvement” … are you saying that Phil is not being a “true coach?” YES…a win is a win… BUT the truly GREAT teams know that bad habits breed bad play, and if we don’t fix some of the minor issues now, then it will carry over into the playoffs…thus..NO 3PEAT.

      With that said…it was a really good win against the 3rd best team in the West, who have 2 very dynamic players. I thought Ron did a GREAT job on Durant, and although his stats may not show it, Bynum’s presence and work under the rim, were crucial.

  • Guildtank

    @Tommy Vercetti:

    You should stop accusing fellow Laker fans of being fake. I assume you are saying you are the “REAL” fan here? Haven’t you heard of the phrase “your closest friend is also your harshest critic?”.

    Because we are fans that’s why we want Lakers to be perfect and correct the things that they don’t do so well. No one is criticising the fact we won, but there is room for improvement.

    Once again, crunsh time free throws should not be missed, esp by players of Kobe’s caliber.

    Oh, btw, please dont’ use ALL CAPS when typing. It’s annoying to read

  • Sir

    Finally a win we can be happy with. Let’s get some more wins over good teams (celtics are coming) and we’ll be back on track

  • Timberwolf

    One more reason that Bynum’s been in so much foul trouble of late. When the perimeter defenders are playing “matador defense” (letting the opponent blow by them with a full head of steam), those little fellas are going to run into Bynum underneath who is at least making an attempt to stop them. It’s getting him in foul trouble. If the Lakers want to keep him on the floor, they need to shore up that perimeter D.

    • Heber

      In addition to that, someone needs yo tell drew to control himself everytime he gets called for a foul. Dude complains after every call. Dont want him to be singled out by the refs

  • WNBAscout

    Jo soy Paulina y me gusta pito negro!

  • 242LakerFan

    Wow…just when I was starting to miss laffs atu, here comes another closet Lakerphile.

  • daboss1848

    Bynum for Westbrook, make it happin cappin

    • daboss1848

      “happin cappin”?

    • 242LakerFan

      Look, boss, another closet Lakerphile with an identity crisis. This one actually thinks he’s you!

      • daboss1848

        i just wish he/she would at least put me in a good light.