Lakers/Thunder Game 6: Pau’s Put Back Propels Lakers

Darius Soriano —  May 1, 2010

As the title of this post implies (and the video above shows), Pau Gasol got to play hero in this game.  With the Lakers trailing by one point and with possession of the ball, Kobe Bryant was isolated on the extended right wing.  Every other Laker was cleared to the left side of the floor watching #24 dribble down the clock in anticipation of Kobe trying to do provide another winning moment for this team with a last second shot.  As clock ticked down from 7…6…5…Kobe dribbled to his right hand to shoot one of his patented fade away jumpers along the baseline.  As the ball released from his fingertips, everyone stared thinking that he’d do it again.  Everyone but Pau Gasol, who slithered his way into offensive rebounding position.  So as Kobe’s shot rattled off the rim and then the backboard, the Big Spaniard secured the ball and in one motion put the ball back into the basket to secure a Lakers win and a place in the 2nd round.

But this game was so much more than just Gasol’s work on the glass on a single play.  How about his 18 rebounds overall?  On a night where he couldn’t get his offense going (only 9 points on 11 shots), Pau found other ways to help this team contributing with his aforementioned 18 rebounds to go along with 3 assists and 2 blocks (along with many other contested shots in the paint).  This wasn’t Pau’s best night as a Laker (game winner aside), but he again showed his value to this team as he continued to work hard and make the right play time and time again.  How about a vintage night from Kobe Bryant, who – on a night where many of his teammates didn’t have their offensive game going – came huge with 32 points on 25 shots.

And Pau’s other front court mates put in their work as well.  Bynum, playing through a hyper-extended knee (more on that later) didn’t have a big statistical night (6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal in 26 minutes) but he was again a presence in the paint for the Lakers.  He occupied space, contested shots, took a couple of hard fouls, and did the job that was needed of him in his minutes.  And, like I mentioned, he did it all on a balky knee that got injured at some point in the first half.  But instead of heading the trainers room, Bynum gutted it out and stayed on the court to help his team.  In the past, some have questioned Andrew’s commitment and love of this game, but on a night where he’s limping around and still hustling back on D, I think those critics should now be silent.  (As an aside, after the game he said that this is one of those things that doesn’t seem that bad and that he thinks he can play through it.  But, Bynum has an MRI scheduled for tomorrow to see where he’s at.) And with Bynum a bit banged up, it gave Odom a chance for some extended run.  And boy, did he take advantage.  Like Bynum, the boxscore really doesn’t do Odom justice.  Down the stretch of this game, LO came up big grabbing multiple rebounds and protecting the rim like at no other point during the series.  The quintessential sequence for me came with the Lakers trailing by one point and 1:50 left in the game.  Russell Westbrook just airballed an 18 footer and Nick Collison judged the ball perfectly to grab the offensive rebound.  But when Collison went up with his shot, LO came from the weak side, blocked the shot, and then secured the loose ball before it could go out of bounds.  Just a fantastic play for Odom and at a time where the Lakers needed a stop.

But, the star of this game was Kobe Bryant.  Questioned throughout this series as being too banged up to be the impact player that we’re been accustomed to seeing and aging right before our eyes, Kobe had one of those games.  After starting out slowly and only making 3 of his first 11 shots, Kobe suddenly got hot and found his groove.  Whether he was attempting 3 pointers, left handed runners, or tough fade away jumpers, Kobe couldn’t miss.  In the third quarter alone, he scored 16 points on a variety of shots that kept the OKC crowd quiet and his teammates on the bench jumping up and cheering him on.  It was a vintage Mamba performance and again showed everyone that in a clinching game in the most hostile of environments, Kobe could still go for the jugular with the best of them.  Kobe finished the night with 32 points on 25 shots and chipped in 7 rebounds and 3 assists for good measure.  In the past two games he controlled contests by playing the facilitator and by carrying the scoring load.  Surely the extra rest that he’s been afforded before games 5 and 6 helped him, but we should again just show extreme thanks for having this wonderful player on the team that we root for.

So here we are.  The Lakers have now advanced to the second round for the third consecutive year and are 25% of the way to their final goal.  But there is no rest for the weary.  Just as the Lakers punched their ticket to the second round, so did the Jazz.  Game one is already scheduled for Sunday afternoon.  So, the Lakers have to fly home tonight and instantly start preparing for a hot Jazz team that just dispatched the Nuggets – only the team that many thought was the 2nd best team in the West all season.  A new challenge awaits the Lakers, but I don’t think this group would have it any other way.  Kobe has already said that they’ll be ready, and I know that we’ll all be right there watching.

A couple other notes from this game and series:

*After this game ended, like every other Lakers fan, I was cheering.  However, I wasn’t just clapping for our guys, I was also cheering for the Thunder.  Standing ovation for these guys.  What a great young team with a fantastic group of fans.  I really can’t say enough about this group of guys and the folks that cheer them on.  They’ve got a great young nucleus in Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, and Harden and some very good role players in Thabo, Green, and Collison.  If they can find a low post presence and some of their players can continue to improve, this team will be a perennial power.  I know that Portland has some great young players, but OKC may have stolen the crown as the up and coming team in this league.  Watch out world, the Thunder have arrived and I don’t think they’re going anywhere but up.

*I don’t know if he can keep it up, but Derek Fisher had one hell of a series on offense.  Sure, he only averaged 10 points a game, but he shot 46.7% from three point country (14-30).  You throw in his 3 assists a game (including a team high 6 in the clincher) and this guy stepped up his game against OKC.  Like I said, I don’t know if he can keep it up, but before the playoffs started I said that I hoped he had one more run in him and so far, so good.

*Game 6 showed a re-emergence of the Lakers bench.  During the 2nd and 4th quarters, Phil went to a bench dominant unit and both times the group of Farmar, Shannon, Walton, and Odom stepped up and performed well.  During the 4th quarter, Phil (much to the chagrin of many fans) sat Kobe for an extended period and let this group play.  Well, they rewarded Phil’s faith in them by keeping the lead in the 6-7 point range and allowed Kobe those few extra minutes of rest that his legs likely needed.  And they all performed well too.  As a foursome they combined for 28 points on 19 shots while collecting 11 rebounds and 8 assists.  I already mentioned Odom, but special recognition needs to go Shannon for his excellent shooting in relief of Kobe.  WOW has 11 of those 28 bench points and got them on only 5 shots (sinking both of his three pointers).  Shannon went without that cursed wrap on his thumb for the first time in weeks and I think it showed in the comfort level he had on his jumper tonight.

*Lastly, I must praise Ron Artest (again) for his defense on Kevin Durant throughout this series.  KD is one of the best young players in this game and surely one of (if not) the NBA’s best scorers.  But for the series, Durant shot 38% from the field (27% on threes) and averaged a shade over 4 turnovers a game.  If not for his ability to get to the FT line (9 FTA, 8 makes) his scoring numbers wouldn’t have been close to his 24.8 ppg – which is already down over 5 points from his regular season average.  In game 6, while missing some shots that he would normally make, Durant only made 5 of his 23 attempts from the field and needed 15 FT attempts to get to his 25 points.  That said, even though KD was well off his game, he still made some big shots (including a three pointer late that brought OKC to within 4 and then later a layup that put them up 3) in this game and he showed his quiet determination that will surely carry him to extreme heights over the course of his long career.

Darius Soriano

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31 responses to Lakers/Thunder Game 6: Pau’s Put Back Propels Lakers

  1. Also, I want to say thanks to all the OKC fans that stopped by and joined us here for the first round. You all were a classy bunch and I wish you and the franchise you root for nothing but the best of luck in the future.

    And for all us Lakers fans, with the quick turnaround for the Lakers/Jazz series, we’ll start to talk Utah tomorrow (or as it turns out, later today – I’ve gotta get some sleep).

  2. I think tonight was the first time the line up of our best 5 players has ever played at the same time! I was waiting for this all season… kobe, artest, lamar, pau, and bynum. Hope to see more of this

  3. Hillary Ocholla May 1, 2010 at 2:31 am

    That was a great series with a dramatic end. I’m looking forward to the next round though a bit surprised by how quickly it begins. Good job to the Lakers fans on here that believed everything was still in control no matter how the series was shaping itself.

    To the usual naysayers: let the team and player bashing resume in the next round :D

  4. Just got done watching the DVR recording of the game with almost no info about the game. (One of my co-workers texted me “it was a close game.”) Why? I don’t know. Anyway, what a great game! Other than Durant not getting hot and the Lakers throwing the ball away too many times, I’d say this was a very clean game. As every body predicted, the Thunder (Durant) got to the line a dump truck load of times but we did a good job of not letting it get to us. In the end our two All Stars came up big, carrying our team to the finish line.

    I’m very proud of our team. They have proved more to us in this one series than they did for most of the regular season. I hope Andrew is okay (since he was grimacing during the game.) Any news on Drew would be great.

    Now let’s kick some Salt Lake butt!

  5. I just have to say this was the most interesting 1st round series we’ve had since possibly the Suns series of the ’05-’06 playoffs. This young team really pushed us hard and I think we benefitted from it. They still have a lot of work to do, but we did the minimum I expected us to do: step it up in terms of getting back to the #1 defense we were playing most of the year (Thunder had a team fg% of .391%, .297% on threes, and TS% of 65%, but that was due to their ridiculous ft% of .835) until the last two months, fisher and kobe hitting their threes much better, and of course, the Mighty Spaniard! While I got a little worried after game 4 and the non-dominating wins of the first two, we really settled down, made the adjustments, and taught these feisty upstarts the difference between the regular season and
    This was basically a match-up of youth, athleticism, and heart and determination vs. experience, length, power, and superior coaching. I’m glad the latter won out, as we all knew it would. Congrats Lakers and hoorah for my fellow Lakers brethren! Lets hope they destroy Utah, like we did in the first reg. season and the one without Kobe! Oooh, re-united and it feels so good!

  6. It is sobering to realize that the Lakers played much the same game in Games 5 and 6, but won the first in a blowout and the second by a tipin. Look at the free throw discrepency. Should we call it home cooking for Durantula? I don’t know.

    Despite Kobe’s shot making heroics, ball handling misadventures, and reduced defensive presence, this was a remarkable team victory featuring role players often maligned on this blog.

    Derek Fisher had enough of a series to keep Ken eating crow for the next month. He made the timely three pointers that the Lakers needed with surprising consistency, became part of a switching physical team defensive presence, and showed true gritty warrior leadership in the worst of times.

    Both Shannon and Jordan fulfilled their roles–Shannon the more visible for his threes and proving the bias of the refs–the victim of a dangerous flagrant that was not called. Jordan not only made a key 3, but exhibited the same speed as the quickest of the Thunder.

    Luke reminded us who he was with some offense we hadn’t seen in some time to complement his passing and defense–especially his three from the corner.

    Josh Powell went to the floor rugby style in a successful scrum with Collison.

    Despite strains. bruises, and fatigue, the Lakers played like the NBA champions they are–until someone takes it away.

    I’m sure that the Jazz are already scheming to do just that.

  7. Great win.

    Great opponent and upcoming franchise; that OKC crowd was like a college crowd.

    The bench to me made all the difference in this game. Quality play by LO/WoW/Luke made the difference between a Win or a Loss.

    Also, Ron seems to be getting comfortable in the offense. Just the fact that he’s taking shots — he took a 3 late in the game, which missed, and which angered Kobe, but showed his confidence — is a good sign.

    Also, I am super happy Utah won. But I couldn’t help but think we would have destroyed DEN anyway with their thuggish play, and Nene being out. Utah is a very good, pesky team, and I know Milsap, Miles and co. will be bothersome…but let’s not kid ourselves: They don’t match up well with the Lakers, and LA should close them out in 5 or 6 — that is, if they bring the intensity.

    OKC – UTAH – SAS/PHX is a great and fortunate road to the finals for the Lakers.

    Go Boston! : )

  8. AK47-I think you might be one of the only people who wants to see that lineup more. It is not a lineup that works well together; too slow and to much congestion in the middle. It is already a challenge with just Pau and Drew in at the same time, let alone adding LO to the mix. That doesn’t even mention the fact that our entire frontcourt rotation is in at once, creating a tough situation for rotations as the game progresses.

  9. I would also like to agree with Darius on Fisher having a solid offensive series. For the first time since last season, when a Laker has shot from beyond the arc, I have actually thought it was going in instead of hoping the player doesn’t miss.

  10. Improve, win and advance. That’s what the playoffs are all about. I felt like we definitely improved throughout this series and hopefully we can continue to execute the way we did the last two games of the Thunder series and bring that with us to the Jazz series.

    My biggest concern is our health. Bynum was obviously not moving well in the second half and the announcers didn’t mention it but it didn’t look like Artest was moving too well either. He did a good job on Durant thorughout the series but I felt like this game he wasn’t chasing Durant well at all around picks which put our defense in compromising positions and Durant just missed shots. He could have easily made half those shots.

    Lastly, why isn’t Shannon Brown playing more? He’s shooting the ball extremely well and I don’t feel like Phil has given him enough minutes.

  11. its too hard to question PJ’s decision making at this point. you may not like some parts of his brain but hey he doesnt have 10 rings as a coach for nothing.

    and a lot of respect for the thunder. it felt like my heart was being wrenched out when kobe was isolated on the wing. i had a bad feeling about it unlike the other game winners that he took, it didnt felt right. lol. good thing we have pau.

    hope bynum’s ok.

    i dont know what to expect with the jazz at this point. we may sweep them i guess? they match up pretty bad against us. they may have defeated a banged up (mentally) nuggets team, but they are beat up as well (okur, AK47) then we saw what happened to d-will in the closing seconds.

    it’d be great to see cavs-celtics and spurs-suns matchups. who do we root for? haha

  12. Warren Wee Lim May 1, 2010 at 6:21 am

    Hey guys…

  13. I think a key point overlooked is the untimely timeout Scott Brooks called when they had us on our heels. That killed the Thunder’s momentum and gave the Lakers time to regroup. Did you guys notice how Durant was screaming “WHY”? They could have gone up 5 and put us away. The coach of the year showed he still has room to grow.

    Also we stand to learn something from OKC fans. What a class org and fans. Sorry but we have our share of fair-weather fans who whine about officiating and crucify players after a bad game. Suddenly OKC has potential free-agency appeal…

  14. As always, the recap covers almost all the salient points. Great job.

    I was most encouraged by the bench showing up on the road. I was especially excited about Walton’s contributions. Lakers don’t need the bench to play huge (other than LO) – just solid.

    Some may think that Phil sat Kobe too long, I am just happy that he had that option.

    As for the Celtics and Cavs – I will never root for the Celtics – just can’t do it. But I will be rooting for the Cavs to lose, though. I would take great joy in seeing LeBron bounced before the finals yet again.

  15. A real Warren sighting, hurah… Warren, the honorary 1st post has been working, it got us to the 2nd round, anyway.

  16. Some big keys to the next series against Utah:

    1.) Control the passing lanes.

    Utah is far and away #1 in assist ratio at 17.9 (the closest is Boston at 16.7), and for comparison, the Lakers are 16th at 14.8, tied with Philadelphia. A lot of this has to do with Deron Williams and his ridiculous 10.5 assists pergame, but the Jazz are just a good passing team in general, averaging 26.7 a game as a team.

    However, that comes with a flip side. Utah also has one of the highest turnover ratios, 26th in the league at 24.8 (by comparison, the Lakers are 5th with 22.1). Those great interior passes that Utah’s flex offense is so good at producing are also high risk passes in traffic, so it’s up to our bigs to get their hands out to disrupt passes.

    2.) Force Deron Williams to shoot mid-range jumpers.

    As we all know, Williams is pretty much the total package on offense: he’s quick, strong, can finish in traffic, and shoots a decent percentage from three (37.1%). However, if there weakness in his game, it is mid-range shooting. According to HoopData, Williams has shot just 32.8% from 10-15 ft this season. Like Russell Westbrook, we need to wall off the paint and force him to be a jump shooter. However, we need to stay up closer when Williams is further out, because he is still a threat from distance. We will need to achieve some sort of balance to push Williams off the three point line, but not give him open lanes to the paint.

    3.) Get the old aggressive Lamar back.

    The last two times we played the Jazz, Lamar was starting for Andrew Bynum, and he went absolutely ballistic to the tune of 25 pts, 7-9 shooting, 11-12 FT’s, 11 rebounds in February, and 26 points, 11-14 shooting, 10 rebounds in April. These led to blowouts by 15 and 14 respectively, and the February game was on the Jazz’s home floor, without Kobe. It’s obvious that Odom is going to have a huge speed advantage on whoever guards him in this series (unless Kirilenko comes back and decides Ron Artest isn’t worth guarding). He needs to be aggressive and get in the paint looking to score.

    4.) Pau Gasol, as always.

    The Lakers went 3-1 this season against Utah, with two blowouts at home, one loss on the road, and one blowout on the road. One of those games was without Kobe, and two of those games were without Bynum. But the common denominator was Pau Gasol beasting all over the Jazz. On offense, Pau had performances of 19 and 12, 16 and 20, 22 and 19, 14 and 16 with 9 assists. In every game, he shot 50% or better, and he also averaged about 5 assists per contest. Like always, we need to get Gasol the ball; Boozer cannot guard him and neither can Millsap. It’s left to be seem if Fesenko’s girth and overall massiveness can deter Gasol, but Gasol probably has a huge speed advantage over Fesenko that he’ll just catch and turn and either shoot a jumper over him or blow past him to the hoop.

  17. Great win!

    When Brooks called that time out, I almost jumped out of my chair I was so happy. They totally had us out of sync and on our heels. We were low on timeouts so Phil had to save his. That was a total momentum changer.

    That last three attempt by Artest was way too early. He was going for the dagger, but some clock management would’ve been better. If he makes it he’s a hero, but it couldve cost us. Especially with the way their fast break is ignited by long rebounds.

    As far as Shannon goes, this was his first game without the wrap on his shooting hand. He definitely seemed to be a lot more comfortable shooting without it. I think we’ll see more of him against Utah. Westbrook wasn’t a good matchup for him (other than Kobe, who was?) He’s played well against Deron Williams, and now that (hopefully) his shooting has returned.

    All in all, great series, great game.
    Major props to the Thunder (condolences to the city of Seattle). We’ll have to see how the Thunder mature or if they fall prey to a little over confidence from a little success like so many young teams do.
    Bring on Utah! 4 down, twelve to go!
    What do we play for?

  18. Rudy,
    I think you will see Shannon more in the Utah series – Deron Williams.

    AK47,
    The kobe, artest, lamar, pau, and bynum lineup has real problems spacing and running the triangle – too congested. They just don’t work well together.

  19. Congrats to the Lakers, I hope your team does well in the next series.

    I was at last nights game, and it was the absolutely BEST game experience I’ve ever had. The crowd was electric, and the game came down to the wire.

    I can’t ask for more except for a Thunder win.

    Go get’em, Lakers!

  20. Great post Darius (as is usual).

    But, I feel you missed an opportunity with the headline…

    I suggest: Pau’s Put Back Propels Purple (and GOOOOOOOLD!)

    Great, exciting, maddening game last night. What I liked the most of all of it was the Lakers mental toughness in the face of some terrible officiating. Loved seeing our guys grit their teeth, stop complaining, and put their heads down and find a way to win.

    Utah will be a good series too. I think we win in 5 or 6, but Sloan coached teams are never a fun time as opponents.

  21. One thing I thought we should give credit to Artest for after a long series. He played amazing defense all series but also was horrible offensively on most nights. But to be honest the effort and strength he brings on every posession is why we let Ariza walk last summer. It was most evident on me on the game-winning Pau tip-in.

    There were four players under the basket when Kobe’s shot went up. Artest and three players from the Thunder. Of the four only Artest put effort into boxing out his man. This along with the Thunder expecting Kobe to do it again are what made it possible for Pau to slip in for the offensive putback.

    I have wondered if the offensive fluidity gone with the loss of Ariza was worth it to gain Artest but this series with his defense and constant effort he made a believer out of me.

  22. Have you looked at the schedule for the next series? Games 1 and 2 come quickly tomorrow and Tuesday, then a loooong break until game 3 on Saturday. All about TV, I suppose.

  23. Enochemery-

    I also noticed the schedule for the series. Thanks for giving us a short turn-around, NBA!

  24. Funky Chicken May 1, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Chad, you make an excellent point. There has been a lot of teeth-gnashing this season over the “trade” of Ariza for Artest. Virtually all of the criticism of that move has been about Ron’s offensive troubles, but your point sums up the reason the Lakers got (and preferred) him to Ariza.

    What Ron did against the league’s leading scorer in this series was something that Trevor, for all of his attributes, could never have done. Moreover, Ron’s physicality is likely to be very helpful against a tough, always-play-hard Jazz team in the next round (to say nothing of how much better off the Lakers would be with Ron guarding Carmelo Anthony if the Nuggets had come through).

    In the end, the Lakers always had the offensive talent to overcome the loss of Ariza; but now, instead of fearing other teams’ small forwards, the Lakers can confidently throw Artest on him and know that he’ll harass the guy all game, all series. That’s an upgrade in my book.

  25. This short turnaround is tough on the Lakers, but the Jazz have the same schedule – plus it will be harder for AK47 to get into the game on Tuesday.

    The Jazz have as many problems with the schedule as do the Lakers and the Jazz have to start out in LA. At least we get a long rest before we have to play in Salt Lake City.

    I won’t say I like it, but at least it is equally unfair for both teams.

  26. A series win is a series win.

    pluses:
    Artest’s D
    Bench Mob (Lamar and Luke Stabilize)
    Kobe’s shooting
    Bynum’s Toughness

    minuses:
    4 points last 5:30 (until Pau’s tip)
    Kobe-30 through 3, finished with 32
    Injuries piling up

    Ultimately, the 1st round went about as well as the Lakers could have hoped considering how the season ended.

    Plus, the #2 & #4 seeds, the two *DEEPEST*
    teams built to battle the Lakers, were eliminated. I’d say the Lakers path just got a lot easier.

  27. how will the lakers solve d.will on the defensive end? they will not be able to get away with the ‘rondo treatment’ on him like they did with westbrook or rondo; he is too quick, strong, and a good shooter to boot. fisher definitely will have a tough time, and guarding d.will with kobe, i don’t think, will be a good idea because d.will’s level of play (much higher than your average point guard) will expend too much of kobe’s time and energy- he will not be able to roam around like he was able to with westbrook. too quick for artest. ditto for farmar. i suppose shannon may be athletic enough to stay with him but with shannon, more minutes he gets, more mistakes he makes (in game 6 vs okc, although he did have a good game shooting, he made 3 mistakes in the span of 4 minutes that cost the lakers 4 points); at this point, shannon seems best suited for the spark plug role in limited playing time. surely, limiting d.will will assure the series win for the lakers and to me, his level of play has risen since the regular season play. so what would be the best solution?

  28. Re: Scotty Brooks. I loved when they miced the two teams’ huddles at the end of the first quarter. Brooks is going on and on in a proud father voice about how they’re gradually gonna figure it out on offense, and they need to focus on defense — being very very encouraging and supportive.

    Phil? “Let’s not let them get too many offensive rebounds” /irritated, sarcastic uncle.

    Brooks was coach of the year, sure, but he sounds like my soccer coach from when I was 12. Phil is typically like a funnier Sloan, and Sloan is still my favorite coach. He, Larry Brown, and Phil… you’re not going to see any of those coaches smiling or patting their guys on the back for basically playing an even quarter.

  29. We’ve got the initial preview up for the Jazz. More to come over the next few days, to be sure.

    http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2010/05/01/round-2-extended-preview-the-utah-jazz/

  30. I watched all the utah/den games and imo williams is playing extraordinary ball without any apparent weaknesses. he’s as comfortable shooting the 3 behind the screen as he is turning the corner and either bulldozing his way to the rim or pulling up for a parker-esque floater or kicking out for the open 3 or dumping the inside pass over to boozer or the big russian when the rotation comes. the cliche right now is that the 2 best PGs are D-Will and CP3, but to me Williams is clearly alone at the top. He may prove to be a little slower than Westbrook (and Paul), but that’s it, and he’s still plenty fast, especially compared to our bunch. The Lakers better have a system in place to at least guide him where they want him, or else perhaps give him not the Rondo but the Nash treatment– let him be a scorer but not get assists.

    The Jazz picked Den apart with Princeton style screens & backcuts. The Lakers have not impressed me with their defensive rotation/communication all season– that’s something that better improve in this round as they’re going from playing a team that is very predictable on offense to one that explores so many different options before taking a shot. On one play last night, the ball went into Boozer in the post, then out, then over to another player, then back into a deeper Boozer, then out again to Williams, then two passes over to the weakside for an open three. Just beautiful basketball and presumably demoralizing to a Den defense that played pretty well for 20 out of 24 seconds on the shotclock.

    On the other side of the ball, however, we have advantages all over the place, so if we can acquit ourselves well on D, this could be a relatively easy series, but that’s going to be a tall order against a team that plays smarter and with greater patience than any team in the league.

  31. I am a Thunder fan who has spent my last 50 years cheering for the Celtics and wanting the Lakers to fail. Now that I live in OKC I have left the Celtics behind and am a Thunder fan. Prior to this series I wanted any and all NBA teams to beat the Lakers. This series has made me rethink all that. The Lakers, their fans and the excellent BLUE AND GOLD blog has changed all that. The class of the Lakers as they beat the Thunder was admirable. From now on Thunder are my number one and the Lakers are next. Good luck on your march to the finals. I will be rooting for you all.