TLN’s Postgame Report – Round 1, Game 3: Lakers @ Thunder — Quick to Start, Slow to Finish (96-101, Loss)

The Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t so much take this game away from the Lakers as much as the Lakers handed it to them, wrapped in confidence and tied with a pretty purple and gold bow. “We’ll take the next two games, “ the Lakers said. “You can have this one.” Being the opportunists that they are, the Thunder replied, “Don’t mind if we do.” And they did, outscoring the defending champions 58-46 in the second half to win their first playoff game.

Similar to Games 1 and 2, the Lakers came out hot, going 10 points to zero before Coach of the Year Scotty Brooks called the first timeout of the game. The Lakers shot 7-7 from the field to begin, with every starter getting what they wanted from their offense.

Ron Artest scored the first two baskets. It was then followed by two

quick lobs for Andrew Bynum; one from Kobe Bryant and another from Derek Fisher. Kobe’s first shot came from behind the arc, and even Derek’s shots were falling after a notable shooting slump of late. Pau Gasol scored off a rebound from a blocked lay-up. For what appeared to be his prime way to score, Andrew was receiving lob pass after lob pass.

After the first quarter, the Lakers were shooting a much-improved 55% from the field, the Thunder, just 35% and for all it was worth, the road team had only one turnover.

In the second and third quarters, the Laker lead, as per usual, rose and plummeted. Each time the Thunder cut it down, Kobe would hit one from downtown, going 4 of 5 from the 3-point line in that first half. A three-pointer here, a signature lefty-hook from Pau there and the Lakers appeared to have control of the game no matter what the Thunder threw at them.

No matter the short runs, no matter the huge disparity in free throw attempts (the Lakers’ first attempt from the charity stripe came at the 2:48 minute mark in the second quarter when Derek was fouled on a three-pointer. He made all three. And in the end, the Lakers lost the free throw battle 12 attempts to 34!), the Lakers managed to go into halftime with a 50-43 lead.

The third quarter began well for the visitors, with Pau starting to find his rhythm and Kobe surpassing Jerry West as the Lakers all-time leading scorer in the playoffs. Unfortunately, a string of bad possessions invited the Thunder right back into the game, and after a Russell Westbrook dunk and Kevin Durant three, the home crowd finally found cause to cheer. After Oklahoma City tied the game at 74, it was all Thunder until the final buzzer.

Kevin Durant, well-guarded all evening, began just 1-9 from the field, the majority of his points coming at the free throw line. But give Kevin and his team an inch, and they’ll take a mile. Helping to bring the win home were Russell Westbrook and reserve, James Harden who, with Kevin, combined for 74 of the Thunder’s 101 points.

On a night where the Lakers finally found their offense, where every starter scored in double figures, it’s a real wonder how mental lapses could occur so late in the game where the veterans should have excelled. To leave behind what was working, which was using their inside-out game, to instead run the shot clock by passing around the perimeter, and then handing off to Kobe who had no choice but to shoot with so few seconds left to make a proper play — where are the experienced know-it-alls in this game?!

Lamar Odom, who has yet to produce a thing to help his team in this series, was advised during a timeout by both Kobe and Ron, that he wasn’t being guarded. Yet he still managed to turn in a paltry 8 points, 6 rebounds and zero assists. What’s it going to take to get Lamar into these games? Yes, it’s a good thing to be patient and to let the game come to you, which is how he operates. Nevertheless, when your teammates and coaches are practically calling out for your help, what is there to wait for?

The Lakers had this game in their favor through three quarters. They weren’t getting favorable calls on either end of the court, but they appeared to have control because they played their game, their pace, their offense. To stop doing what gives them so much success, is to give away what you know is rightfully yours. The Thunder, well, they’ll gladly take whatever you want to give them.

Pre-game Thoughts: The Lakers are supposed to lose this game, but let’s see if they can get themselves together to beat the odds.

Half-time Thoughts: 50-43: Lakers shooting 46% while the Thunder are shooting 32%. The Lakers should be up by double digits, but so far so good.

Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: Lamar Odom — you really don’t get it? Your coaches and teammates have been begging you to be more active in this series and still you remain uncharacteristically slow to rebound and reluctant to attack the basket when no one in a Thunder uniform seem to pay you any attention. Baffling.

Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: The Oklahoma City Thunder, who played like veterans in the end when it sometimes counts the most. They never gave up, never shut down. There were no rookies in Oklahoma City tonight.

Anna Gonda has been the post-game editor for LakerNation.com since the 2009-2010 season. Between post-game reports, she's a full-time advertising coordinator for an academic publisher and a part-time photographer. Favorite Lakers: Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. Favorite Laker Moment: Game 7, 2010 Finals against the Boston Celtics.
  • mytiman

    First.

    Unless the Lakers shift to the next gear, the version that they showed during last year’s NBA Finals, they will have trouble getting past Oklahoma and making their way back to the NBA Finals.

    Ron Artest’s defense is very overrated. After game 1, Durant again is showing why he is the scoring leader of the league.

    Kobe is playing like he’s about to retire after this championship run.
    Bynum is again playing no heart.
    Odom just can’t stand the pressure of playoffs.
    Derek is just old. Plain and simple. Not making shots.

    The only good thing with the Lakers right now is Pau Gasol. Good Lord, thanks to Jerry West for bringing him here.

    • Marwan Marzina

      How come you’re not around during Laker wins? You’re like those haters that show up after losses to have a reason to bash on the team.
      Artest’s defense isn’t overrated. Durant just got to the free throw line a lot and scored off there. Plus, you don’t really expect Ron to guard him all game long, there has to be a time where Ron goes to the bench to rest and some one switches onto Durant to guard him. In these last 3 games, Durant has shot 27-74. I’m sure Ron’s defense is very overrated. So what if Durant scores, Ron’s job is to make it hard for him to do so and so far it has. Just the free throws are helping him score.
      Kobe has a broken finger and if you don’t know by now, he has sore legs (I don’t think he’d sit out to rest them in the playoffs)
      Bynum is playing alright so far, I don’t get why you would bash on him.
      Odom is just inconsistent. Can’t stand pressure of playoffs? Then why did he destroy the Magic last year. I’m sure theres more pressure in the finals than there is in the first 3 rounds.
      Derek has intangibles that can’t be replaced by other point guards. Although he is old and slow, he has the intangibles that you can’t find in every point guard these days i.e. leadership, motivational speeches, clutchness, finals experience. Try finding a point guard that has those.
      Lets stand up for the team and cheer them on. I believe the Lakers are 2-1. Besides, after dropping the first 2 games, didn’t the Thunder fans go wild in Game 3 recording the highest ‘arena roar’? Wouldn’t they boo them instead? No, cause they are true fans. Learn something from them and also learn something from Clipper Darrell.

      • LakerMarc

        However, Kobe wan’t effective AT ALL at guarding Kevin. It needs to be Ron and it needs to stay that way.

    • LakersFirst

      Artest defense is overrated? God you’re dumb. As someone mentioned earlier, Durant is 27 for 74 from the field – That’s 36% shooting from a guy that shot 49% from the field during the regular season. You don’t think Artest has anything to do with that?

      And for you to say that Jerry West brought Gasol here is ridiculous!!! You do realize West was no longer the GM for the Grizzlies during that trade and had nothing to do with that team.

      Quit being so blind.

    • LakerMarc

      Every single aspect of youir comment was not only false and dillusional, but stupid!!!!!!

      Go post on OKC’s site, if they have one. You don’t belong here Poseur!!!!

  • trippleocho

    Not worried, still 2-1 up. Lamar Odom, PLEASE STEP THE FCUK UP. We are unbeatable when he plays well and he has played pretty bad this series.

  • justdogm1

    anyone have a flahback to the kobe `s first year throwing up all those AIRBALLS in utah?…..1 of 9 in the 4th quarter?at least he`s hitting the rim………………

  • Thundercat

    Haha!!! Thunder fans, Feeling You!!!! I knew Kobe would shot you guys out of these series. The new Kobe Stopper is the Kevin Durant!!!!!!! Thunder in 6!

    • http://thelakersnation.com/blog/category/original-articles/benchmob-beat/ Anna Gonda

      Settle down young fella. They got one win. They need 3 more to advance. Winning 1,2, or 3 doesn’t mean jack unless you can win a 4th…FIRST.

    • xtro

      phantom foul calls on artest and fish which resulted in free throws won the game for u cats.

    • LakerMarc

      Loser! What are you doing here? Isn’t there a honky tonk you should be at right now drinking and celebrating your only win , in your only Playoff appearance, with the youngest and most inexperienced team in the NBA at this juncture in the season. You didn’t win that game the Lakers gave it to you. PATHETIQUE!!!!

      • yash

        IMO handing them the win is a lot worse than fighting them to the end and losing, especially when u have a big ass lead. can you or some explain me why kobe took a whopping 29 shots to get 24pts?? and why he took 11 god damn 3s??

        • KindSir

          That’s Kobe for you. It all started with Westbrook going straight to the rim and throwing down that nasty dunk. Right from there I knew it was game over. I wish someone on our team was still able to do that.

  • Elden Marr

    We are not a perimeter team, so why the … Are we jacking up 30 shots from 3-poing land? It just annoys me when they start shooting and there is still 20-15 seconds on the shotclock and our post guys are hustling up in the post where they could easily go for a dunk, a lay up or a 10 footer tops.

    • LakerMarc

      It reminded me of Orlando again. REALLY PATHETIC.

      • atomicpunk

        Lakers need to understand that missed 3 pt attemps = long rebounds = fast breaks. Basketball 1-A

  • xtro

    please kobe. please pass the ball to the bigs. please be a decoy. please penetrate and dish it inside the paint or outside for the shooter. please stop jacking up shots. please PASS the damn ball.

  • atomicpunk

    Is it just me or does it seem the Lakers refuse to take a charge? I know Fish caused one last night but that was the first ive seen in a while. It would be nice to see our guys sacrifice their bodies and get in front of the ball carrier intead of just stepping aside or trying to block the shot.

  • lakeb

    GIVE THE BALL TO PAU GASOL. HE HAS GOT THE BIGGEST MISMATCH IN THE HISTORY OF THE NBA AGAINST ANYONE ON THE THUNDER. NOONE ON THE THUNDER CAN GUARD PAU. GIVE PAU THE BALL MORE AND WE SHOULD WIN BY ATLEAST 15. ESPECIALLY AT THE END OF THE GAME GIVE PAU THE BALL. KOBE WASNT FEELING IT LAST NIGHT

    • ab4sure

      Please relay that to Kobe. I don’t think he got the memo.

  • lakers2000

    Bottom line: We need more penetration! We are not getting to the foul line. Everyone and their mother knew that the Thunder was going to take away the paint and force the Lakers to shoot from the perimeter. Mission accomplished for the Thunder. We are not going to beat this team if we do not figure out a way to get to the rim and draw fouls. It is only one game, but seriously, why do we avoid going inside??? i am confidant that we will win this series, but am not confidant we will win it all with the problems this team is enduring. Will the real Kobe Bryant please stand up! We miss you buddy. Go Lakers!!!!!!!!

  • xtro

    pass the ball to the twin towers, and we will win this series. lakers in 5.

  • jonb

    I hate it how we have NO ATHLETIC guys on our team that can dunk over westbrook for example after he dunks on lamar and show SOME EMOTION back. Lakers need to be more aggressive and attack the basket like the thunder do to get some calls. Irregardless of that though, KOBE NO FREE THROWS wow refs thanx.
    .
    .
    .
    We just have to be smarter at making decisions; lamar should get to the rim instead of settling for 3′s at the end of quarters or NOT FOULING DURANT with 12 sec left. I knew it was over by that point. Youd think they know better by not letting him catch it. I just want to see the lakers blow these kids out. ENOUGH

    • KindSir

      Kobe got no free throws because he was too busy shooting 3′s all night long.

  • LakersMike31

    Man, Kobe looks soooo old on some nights. And they just extended this guy for 3 years earning superstar money. Ouch. It’s frustrating when he shoots the team out of 4th quarters. For someone with a supposedly high basketball IQ, he is sure making some bonehead decisions recently. Can anyone please explain to me why Kobe doesn’t understand that his team’s best chance of winning is to go through his bigs? Kobe doesn’t make the team a nightmare to play against…their versatile bigs do. It’s become relatively EASY to stop Kobe nowadays. Especially when he’s not willing to give the ball up and jacks up fallaway jumpers for an entire 4th quarter. This guy has to come to terms with the fact that he is not capable of carrying the team by himself anymore. He can do it for maybe a couple of minutes at a time, but he’s no longer capable fo doing it for quarters at a time game to to game. Kobe needs to wake up and set the table, then get outta the way.

    • daboss1848

      u shall now experience the wrath of the kb-only crowd . . .

      • LakersMike31

        The what now?

  • cbreezy

    XTRO……I totally agree with the phantom calls at the end! Did anyone else see them. It was actually rather funny. The Lakers have a history of losing game 3 in the playoffs. I was encouraged with the way the team looked over all. Home games mean an awful lot to young upstart teams. It’s hard to overcame the momentum when it starts. The Lakers are fine, they will win this series, but once again Lamar is really driving everyone crazy with his lazy, waiting for it to come to me attitude! That’s the kind of attitude that gets you traded when a better piece comes along.

  • mr.laker19

    Kobe looks like he has less intensity, and more doubts about his game then ever! He needs to not worry about what people are saying about him and just play the best he can, I still think he is the best and his struggles are mental

    • daboss1848

      not sure what you’re watching – he looks super intense and mentally strong. Unfortunately, his physical abilities no longer correspond to his mental, which is why we see him struggle by throwing shots against the defenders hand, or leave his feet to pass (when his itrue intention waas to shoot), or just hang out the perimeter and jack up shots (easi
      er than penetrating or posting).

      • LakersMike31

        Exactly. Kobe’s descent seems to be gaining momentum. It’s like he’s hit a wall. Problem is, I don’t think he’d ever admit it.

  • bernzter

    My goodness!!!

    What is happening to the Lake Show? I am not a hater but they are not doing what they should be doing all year long…

    They have became lackadaisical in their approach to the game and it shows on their moves and in their walk and in their ability (or lack thereof) to close out games!

    To a young team nonetheless!!! It irks me to see them playing like children in the park just running to and fro and not even having the desire to execute their offense which when done night in and night out would earn the whole team double digit points in the score sheet…

    Someone has to wake up and someone has to shake the rest of the guys this is getting pathetic… I just hope that they get the hunger back again… Because as of late, they are playing like they are so gloated with winning that they don’t even care for the dessert (The Trophy). Please, wake up guys…

    ——————————————————————————-
    I don’t know if anyone noticed it but late in the third, when Fish was trying to tell the bigs what they should be doing on defense, Pau just walked away and left him and Ron almost arguing before the Shannon free throw… C’mon, stop quibbling with yourselves and get on with the game like professional players you are…

    PLEASE!!!

    • LakersMike31

      Yeah I noticed that too. I think one of the least talked about aspect of this year’s team is the lack of chemistry. It truly doesn’t seem like these guys enjoy playing with each other anymore. During the last couple of years, everyone (especially Kobe) would talk about how much they liked playing with each other, and how fun it was. I haven’t heard that this year. I think the expectations and the pressure of defending a title has gotten to them a bit.

  • Betto

    First and for most, the referees gave this game to the thunder.. So many stupid calls against the Lakers, farmar goes in gets the bump throws the ball up and no call, on the other side Westbrook does the same thing and he gets and one. >.>
    Not to mention the difference of free throws.. 10-12 Lakers over almost triple the free throws 27-34 thunder, and the usual no love for Kobe from the refs, he has to get fouled 3-4 times before he gets a call.

  • Robert

    In playoffs, home team gets more foul calls. The Lakers got a foul call in game 1 – that helped them win. I agree that Kobe should have gotten ‘at least one’ foul call, though.
    .
    Anyway, remember last year, when the Lakers played the Rockets – it was ‘much tougher’, and the series went to 7 games. I wasn’t sure how the Lakers would make it through that series, but they won.
    .
    This year, for some reason, I’m not worried. I’m not even worried about the Cavs. Phil was just ‘experimenting’ yesterday – having the Lakers hoist up 3s. He will adjust for the next game. He likes adjusting. Losses are actually GOOD to help improve playoff play (yes, nothing beats domination – but the Lakers ‘can’t’ dominate this year with all the injuries, so they have to rely on ‘strategy’ a bit more – that’s Phil’s department).
    .
    The only thing is – they NEED to make more shots. More buckets. That’s what they get paid for. They need to ONLY SHOOT if they are going to make a shot (jump shot, that is). If NOT, they run to the basket. That simple. Phil was obviously experimenting.
    .
    They won’t lose the series to OKC, but if they want to ‘last’ to the Finals, they have to get rid of them sooner than later, that’s all.
    .
    And they will. I have NO doubts.

  • uwee

    stop being scared….let them play…………..