Preview and Chat: The Oklahoma City Thunder

Darius Soriano —  February 27, 2011

Records: Lakers 41-19 (3rd in West), Thunder 36-21 (4th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.9 (2nd in NBA), Thunder 110.5 (10th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.1 (11th in NBA), Thunder 108.3 (16th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Thunder: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison
Injuries: Lakers: Matt Barnes & Theo Ratliff (out); Thunder: Kendrick Perkins (out)

The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers have won three straight and all of them impressive in their own way. The offense is rolling and the defense is getting stingier. And even though there are still some defensive rebounding issues (they surrendered 13 to the Clippers on Friday) a lot of those issues are related to the sheer volume of misses the D is forcing rather than the Lakers simply not doing their jobs. So, all in all, I’m pretty happy with where this team is coming out of the all-star break and only hope that the strong play continues.

Matt Barnes update: Barnes is so close to returning that he’s traveling with the team on this two game road trip. And while he’s not likely to play today against the Thunder, it’s still a possibility that he’ll suit up against the T-Wolves on Tuesday or against the Bobcats on Friday when the team returns to Los Angeles. Obviously, this is a great sign for the Lakers in these last 20 some-odd games. Not only because Barnes is a good player whose skill set is an added element to an already good team but because it allows the Lakers’ rotation on the wing to settle into what it was early in the year. Phil hasn’t shown a whole lot of trust in Luke Walton and has not gone to him consistently while Barnes is out. This has meant more Kobe at SF and more Shannon at SG. And while more Kobe and Shannon isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it has meant a heavier load on those guys and has somewhat exposed some of the inconsistencies in Shannon’s game as the year’s progressed. I’d much rather Barnes as an option rather than having to turn to Brown if he’s not playing as well as he can on any given night. The Clips game was a perfect example of this as Brown played a lot of minutes and had a good plus/minus number, but ultimately shot 4-14 and made some questionable decisions both in the open court and in the half court that were somewhat overshadowed by his spectacular finishes in the paint. Ultimately, I like Brown but still want every option available to Phil as we close down the regular season.

The Thunder Coming in: The Thunder are 1 up and 2 down since coming out of the all-star break, with the two losses coming to the contending Spurs and Magic. But the big news coming from this team isn’t how they’re playing or what they’ve done on the court, but rather what they did off it at the NBA’s trade deadline this past Thursday.

OKC traded starters Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic to the Celtics for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson. They also traded reserve wings James White and Morris Peterson to Charlotte for Nazir Mohammed. In these two deals the Thunder have added heaps of size and toughness to their roster while giving them an explosive bench scorer to shore up a 2nd unit that offers little punch besides James Harden. Overall, I’d have to say that the Thunder did quite well for themselves as they’ve traded the potential and upside of Green for the steadiness of Perkins.

And make no mistake, Perkins is a key player for them moving forward. Obviously, people will talk about Perkins’ post defense and his ability to physically control the paint on that side of the ball. But, I think he’s also got the potential to really help the Thunder offense. Not as a scorer, but as a screener. As it’s been for the entirety of Scott Brooks’ tenure as head man, the Thunder have run some of the more simplistic offensive sets in the league. The run simple P&R’s for Westbrook and a ton of pin down and cross screen actions for Kevin Durant in order to free him up to get off his jumper. Well, before Perkins those screens were being set by Kristc, Collison, and Ibaka – all three capable bigs, but none a bruiser that physical defenders couldn’t muscle through. Now, those screens will be set by Perkins. If Westbrook and Durant get just a second more of freedom coming off screens, OKC’s offense is going to improve a great deal, even with the drop off in true offensive skill when swapping Nenad for Kendrick.

There are drawbacks to this trade though. For one, Perkins is likely to be out at least 2 more weeks with his sprained MCL. So, there will be precious little time to integrate him with practice and game reps for the post-season push. Also, while the Thunder have been wanting to find more minutes at PF for Ibaka, he commits nearly 5 fouls per 36 minutes and suffered though 18 foul plagued minutes on Friday against the Magic. Plus, by trading away Green, the Thunder have essentially surrendered their depth at PF. Ibaka is now the only natural PF worth playing on that roster and OKC will now have to go “small” with KD at PF for stretches or go big with Collison/Nazr playing PF if Ibaka is out with foul issues or resting. Not the biggest problem to be sure, but something that will need to be addressed long term.

In the end though, the Thunder have set themselves up to be a better team this year and moving forward. Whether or not that carries them any further than what they would have originally gone this year remains to be seen but, if anything, they’ve injected even more life into a franchise on the rise. Which is saying something considering Durant and Westbrook are on this roster.

Thunder Blogs: Royce Young does a fantastic job covering this team over at Daily Thunder. You’d be doing yourself a favor by giving his site a visit.

Keys to game: The Lakers are quite familiar with how to beat the Thunder as they did so in 6 games last playoffs and have won the only regular season match up to this point. There will be no bigger factor to this game than pace and tempo with whichever team finding a way to play at the speed they prefer likely winning the game.

This means that the Lakers must play smart offensively in order to avoid promoting Thunder leak outs and open court chances. Going into the post will be a key today with Gasol and Bynum getting their chances to go at Ibaka and Collison respectively. The Bynum/Collison match up is one I’ll especially be watching because Nick is an underrated post defender that does well in battling for position while also expertly working half and full fronts on his man. He’s given Pau fits in the past with his ability to deny post entries and today it will be Bynum that has to deal. However, where Drew has the advantage over Pau is in his wider base that will allow him to more easily seal Collison and then make himself available for lobs over the top. Today may be the day that we see Drew get 10 points just off catches over the top that lead to easy baskets and FT’s after getting fouled.

As for Gasol, he’s got a different type of match up in Ibaka than he normally has in Green. Ibaka is a sturdy and athletic big man that is a capable shot blocker both on and off the ball. Pau will need to be patient today and flash all aspects of his offensive repertoire in order to keep Ibaka off balance. I hope to see Pau make his catches at the elbow and down within 15 feet of the hoop in order to set up his jumper (which he’s had going lately) or his quick drives to the hoop. If Pau can set up shop on that left mid-block most of the game, I see him being successful even if he is facing a better defender than the one that OKC has normally thrown his way at the beginning of the game.

Even though the big men should be featured, the Lakers can’t win this game by simply dumping the ball into the post. Because while that would likely keep the Thunder out of their running game, it won’t produce enough points to win. That means Kobe and the other Lakers wings will need to make shots. The key is what type of shots they get. All the Lakers wings must avoid long jumpers – especially those early in the clock. When the Lakers have had their most success against this team it’s been because Kobe hasn’t settled for his jumper and instead has drove the ball relentlessly into the paint for short jumpers and finishes right at the basket. He’ll need to have that same strategy today. As for Ron, Fisher, et al, they’ll not be able to avoid taking long jumpers but I’d hope that they come from the angle and top of the key rather than the corner (especially for Artest). This will promote better floor balance and allow the Lakers to better go after offensive rebounds while also transitioning back to the defensive end.

And believe me, defensive transition will be key. Even though I expect to see Kobe on Westbrook for most of this game, it doesn’t mean that OKC will abandon trying to push the ball up the Lakers backs to get early baskets in transition. Russ, KD, Harden, and Ibaka are all plus athletes that will run the floor and look to finish around, over, and through opponents. So, the first defensive key for the Lakers is to hustle back, build a wall and then recover back to their man.

In the half court, the Lakers need to be aware of the screen actions that the Thunder use and Artest will need to be on his game today in chasing KD off screens and then contesting his shots without fouling. Durant has traditionally struggled with Ron’s brand of physical, relentless D so Ron’s “A” game on that side of the ball would be a welcomed sight today. Where the Lakers can really help Ron is in helping off those screen actions and forcing other players not named Westbrook/Durant make shots. OKC does not have a good outside shooting team so LA can help off more than usual today and see if those other guys are up to the challenge.

Lastly (as if this preview wasn’t long enough), I’m looking for Odom to have a good game today. Normally he’s matched up with Ibaka on the 2nd unit but now that Serge is a starter LO will not have to deal with the length and springy legs that gave him so many problems last spring. This game could easily turn on an active Odom and I hope it does.

This game is important for a lot of reasons but none more than the fact that LA is trying to hold off OKC in the playoff seedings chase and because the Lakers want to continue their strong play. OKC will be loud today and the players and crowd will be hell bent on revenge. If the Lakers can pull out a win it’s just one more step in the right direction. Here’s hoping they get it.

Where you can watch: 11:30am start time on ABC. Also listen live at ESPN Radio 710am.

Darius Soriano

Posts

118 responses to Preview and Chat: The Oklahoma City Thunder

  1. Great post, D…I especially agree with the Odom part at the end. As always, def penetration will be key as Westbrook, Maynor, and even Lil Nate could give us problems in the half court and pushing in transition.

  2. Great preview. The point about Perk helping their offense with his (moving) screening ability is right on, and something very few people are talking about. I’m also curious to see how Pau does against Ibaka, someone with a really rare combination of length, strength, quickness, and athleticism. And also because if we face them in the playoffs, Pau’s effectiveness against Ibaka will be key.

    Can’t wait till Barnes is back.

    While we’re waiting for the game to start, here’s an excellent look at our bigs’ history against the Thunder:

    http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2011/2/27/2017959/nba-lakers-thunder-preview-pau-gasol-lamar-odom-andrew-bynum-kevin-durant-kobe-bryant

    The defensive efficiency with Odom/Gasol on the floor is particularly shocking. Just goes to show the true value of Bynum.

  3. @Snoop Gasol/Bynum having better defensive efficiency is interesting because Odom/Gasol have better off/def efficiency numbers against the Celtics. My (probably oversimplified) guess is that the Celtics rely on perimeter screens and ball rotations to get outside shots, whereas the Thunder require Westbrook’s penetration to get shots. With Bynum, wings don’t have to help as much because he can contest, plus OKC does not have great shooters. Hence while Bynum himself may need more development to be a better individual player, his presence on the team affords the luxury of being able to pick and choose the best personnel and matchups when playing different teams.

    Today I’ll be most interested in how the Thunder will try to space the floor with Ibaka and how they will do it once Perk is back. I’ve felt that the trade actually made the Thunder worse in the short run, because even though Green was not great, he filled an offensive need on this team. I believe if Presti can address this with another trade, then this trade will be outstanding. They are one floorspacer/defender away from being contenders. Otherwise, I think it hurts them to give more minutes to the likes of Ibaka and Harden, who are unproven one-way players, and Collison, who just doesn’t present much of a consistent threat on offense. Perkins setting good screens is a plus, but I feel he is too much of a liability on offense when played with other players who can’t space the floor, esp against good teams who know how to defend.

  4. Don – I’ll buy that, that’s a good explanation of the numbers. The interesting thing will be (eventually) seeing how our combos of bigs become more or less effective against the new Thunder frontline.

    I agree, the Thunder have a great collection of 1-way players. To me, I think they’ll have to depend on Ibaka to develop a consistent jumper. Harden will play a lot against most teams, but against the Lakers, I think Thabo has to be on the floor (unless you want to sap KD’s energy guarding Kobe). Between Thabo, Ibaka, and Perkins, it’ll be like the Thunder are playing 2-on-5 offense (the caveat is that Ibaka is a good finisher in transition, so with Westbrook pushing, he becomes an offensive threat).

    Some Celtics fans (Simmons) remain convinced that Davis had to play in crunch time over Perkins, for offensive reasons. And that was next to KG, Rondo, Allen, and Pierce, 4 capable offensive players. Next to Ibaka and Thabo, Perkins might be a bigger problem.

    With that said, the Thunder were consistently worse on defense when Green was on the floor. So it’ll be interesting to see if their jump in defense makes up for the offensive niche Green provided.

  5. I think the key to this game will be a non X and O factor. Early start against young legs eager for a win translates to Lakers struggling to keep up. I hope I am proved wrong.

  6. Totally agree with the Perk setting good screens part – very underrated aspect of his game.

  7. im seeing it… the championship swagger is almost at 100% right now for the lakers.

    As Mike Lombardi says about the teams that go on to win the Super Bowl…”they have the look”.

    Lakers have that ‘look’, as far as I can see.

  8. Sorry for the sidebar away from today’s game.

    However, I was curious if anyone had any insight into whether Baron would be bought out by Cleveland and if so would the Lakers have any interest. I know Baron would love to get back to LA. Additionally, when motivated Baron is a very good player.

    My apologies if this idea was already discussed. I might have missed this topic previously.

  9. #8. dont think Kobe is too fond of Baron. When Kobe was asked whether he was surprised that Baron was traded to Cleveland…kobe’s answer, and i quote, “No”.

  10. Have not gone to the post once yet…that’s gotta change, like yesterday

  11. Gasol with his two J’s is all we have so far? I am glad he is hitting them, in fact he is good at that 15 foot jumper.

  12. link anyone?

  13. nicely done. we overcame the initial run by the Thunders and didn’t let the game get out of hand. OKC is a very difficult place to play the thunder, and the lakers managed that initial run really well.

  14. Bynum has been an absolute beast so far…three blocks, drawing fouls. If we continue to pound the ball inside we’ve got a good chance today. OKC is running lots of high screens for Westbrook and he’s getting whatever he wants right now, gotta stay quicker on d with the help and recovery. The bigs are hedging reasonably well but Kobes a half step slow, which I can’t blame him for…the fact that 15 yr vet Kobe is tasked w the energizer bunny, Westbrook, is pretty amazing if you think about it. Of course it’s probably more an indictment on Fish than anything else

  15. pau gets no respect

  16. James, first Aldrich doesn’t hand check him, but actually arm checks him, deterring his path to the hoop. Then he gets mugged twice at the rim without a foul call. Then he gets CALLED for a foul when Harden runs into him while he stands straight up, taking an elbow to the head in the process…tough sequence for the Big Spaniard, and the refs just sit there looking at him like he’s stupid.

  17. andddd I spoke too soon.

  18. When is this Lakers bench gonna hold the fort against a contending team?

  19. This home crowd is one reason the Lakers need HCA advantage against the Thunder come playoff time. The atmosphere last year was insane and with a year of playoff experience underneath their belts they are an even bigger threat.

  20. LOL, I am finished watching this game, it has already frustrated the hell out of me. Not saying it is over, but there is a high probablity Lakers are losing this game today, they are playing horrendous defense and Thunder have brought their A+++ game, not very surprising.

  21. lamar is owning right now

  22. #20,

    Get a grip.

  23. Joe, a 4 point game? Really?

  24. Interesting statistician decisions so far. The guy awarded Drew a blocked shot instead of a steal on that play by Maynor, and didn’t give him an assist on Shannon’s lucky 3-pt bank shot, even though he shot it less than one second after Drew’s pass.

  25. Did anyone else just see Harden slap Bynum on the head repeatedly? How is that just a shooting foul?

  26. NIce to see this run by the bench.

  27. Tied game folks, yes, yes, yes…

  28. 23 – Shhh if he stops watching the game, maybe he’ll stop commenting.

    24 – It’s Oklahoma City. They don’t learn numberz there.

    Both of those were probably uncalled for.

  29. Wow a jumper by Ron where he sets his feet, incredible.

    Love Lamar’s activity.

  30. I defend Kobe in most instances, but his pouting after plays like that Sefolosha steal where he literally walks down the court while everyone runs, is indefensible…in the same breath, Jabby calls a ridiculously short tempered T on him, further igniting the crowd.

  31. we could learn pick and roll defense but it aint gonna get the refs on our side

  32. Not a good close to the half, but still only down 5…

  33. If Westbrook ever develops a consistent jumper he will be impossible to stop. Moving forward in NBA PG future he and Derrick Rose have the most promising futures.

  34. 30. Kobe got that T for doing the “my teammate got hit on the arm” gesture. I thought the officials had stopped calling that as the season went on. I guess they’ll call it if they feel like it. I didn’t see if it was mentioned, but did the league rescind Kobe’s and Pau’s ridiculous technicals from the previous two games?

  35. Oh sorry Snoopy, I said I was going to stop watching the game, but not stop following it through gamecast. I am so sorry, but looks like you are not going to get your wish :)

  36. Lol I’m just messing with ya Joe, I enjoy your comments. They bring a nice balance to this site.

    33 – I love the PG situation we have in this league. We have the 2 “true” elite PGs in Deron/CP3. And now we have 2 elite PGs that are a new breed of otherworldly athleticism and scoring, with solid passing.

    It’s really an interesting dynamic. I still prefer the throwback “true” PGs, but I don’t know if either Paul or Williams (maybe Paul) can change a playoff series the way Rose can.

  37. Boy I’m glad the lakers didn’t trade Bynum, without him the lakers don’t have interior defense. Bynum defends the pick and roll between westbrook and a big man a million times better than Gasol. It’s like gasol is afraid to step up and trap him. That’s what has worked.

    But disappointing finish to that quarter. The lakers have to win the 3rd quarter. Other than Odom, the bench hasn’t given the lakers much except a lucky bank 3 with to beat the shot clock. But the lakers are scoring which is a good thing. But Gasol has to start altering some shots at the rim when he’s at the center position.

  38. The Lakers are playing a solid team, so don’t expect a walkover.

    Westbrook’s athleticism is unbelievable. Him and Derek Rose can pull for a jumper and just FLOAT in the air for a second (or two) before letting the shot off. Insane. This is where the Lakers need to play better defense as a team, since no way in hell are Fisher and Blake going to stay in front of him.

    Durant has had a relatively quiet first half. The team needs to prepare for him possibly catching fire later. A scorer rarely stays silent a whole game.

  39. The Thunder are the prototype for successfully rebuilding a franchise. Sam Presti is a genius, I really can’t think of a bad personnel decision he’s made yet. I hate how the owners take the easy out and say “stars don’t want to be here bc were not a big market, so we need a franchise tag”…no, teams like Utah, Tor, and Cleveland showed extreme incompetence in the way they built around their stars. Don’t play the role of victim when you weren’t proactive in improving your teams. Just because you draft a player doesn’t give you a ten year entitlement to milk that cash cow. Cle could’ve had Amare, they get Jamison instead…Utah let’s Boozer walk, he’s flourishing in Chicago. And Toronto, well they decided to neglect defense entirely. The owners painting the stars as selfish is propaganda that they know the media and general public will buy into. And it’s also a load of crap. Sorry, off topic, but watching these Thundercats ball made me think about it.

  40. Good job by our bench (particularly L.O.) for not only keeping us in the game, but also bringing us back from that 14 pt deficit …. Would like to see Kobe set up shop on the lower block more often in the 2nd half …. Defensively, Kobe is allowing himself to get picked off to easily. Has to do a better job of recognizing it before it comes …. All n all, considerin’ that they’re shootin’ lights out (come on now, Sabo hit a couple of j’s), I don’t feel too bad being down only 5

  41. I think the defense is by design. Our bigs are not hedging the screens, sagging off and are instead letting Westbrook/Durant/Harden get into open space while the primary defender goes over the top and trails. In the second half, we should switch to a scheme where the defender on the screener will hedge hard and the second big will switch onto the roll man while the defender of the screener recovers to the second big’s man. This switch in defending the PnR from first to second half has been a consistent strategy over for LA. My guess is it gives teams a new look, and preserves legs for the second half since a rotating defense consumes more energy. But if anyone else has insight as to why, I’d be interested in hearing it.

    The high field goal percentage given up is due to a combination of this, transition, and the likes of Thabo/Cook hitting tough 3’s.

    We’re in a good place given the fact that we’re on the road after a busy week. Our energy and execution is good. I’m glad to see we are on the same page defensively, hitting the offensive glass, and Kobe not forcing anything. Just got to keep turnovers down and keep rebounding next half.

    The Thunder are relying completely on Westbrook to create shots and it should take its toll in the second half in the form of his midrange jumpers. However, if I’m a Thunder fan I’m definitely encouraged by the sight of Harden being more aggressive and Thabo taking shots with confidence. If they can play like this reliably in the playoffs and Perk goes back to his usual self, they will be hard to beat.

  42. 24. Looks like the stat guy went back at halftime and credited Drew on that assist to Brown. I know you guys were so concerned :D

  43. JM – same goes for Kobe.

  44. #37
    It is hard not to like this team. Presti has done a marvelous job and the coach has really brought this team to buy into the system. Durant is my favorite player outside the Lakers, and in a couple years this team will be elite.

  45. 40. It wasn’t so much the bench as it was Drew’s presence. I think he came back in the game when it was 38-24. Not sure how effectively Perkins and Mohammed will defend him in OKC’s scheme, but he sure has dominated the paint at both ends of the floor today.

  46. It is fine Snoopy, I wasnt mad. I still wont watch this game, bad vibe to it ya know. The Lakers will surprise me totally if they pull it out.

  47. I like how involved artest has been in the offense the last few games.

  48. JM 38, here comes that spurt…gotta keep KD off the ft line.

    Lofan, aside from Lakers, Durant and Rose are my favorite players. I expect at least one or two thunder/bulls finals in the next decade, and boy will they be fun

  49. I just love that Kobe turnaround, fade-away jumper, with a hand in his face.

  50. Great point made by Van Gundy on the broadcast. Paraphrasing, “If your best player is going to sacrifice his body and take a charge, the rest of the team will get invested in that, too. Will Carmelo Anthony and Amar”””e Stoudemire make that same play that Kobe just made?”

  51. Unbelievable! Right n front of the ref, Sabo damn near breaks Pau’s wrist on that so-called steal and no call.

  52. Adam – I agree with you, and I was thinking the exact same thing a couple days ago. However, even though I hate the small-town owner whining, I think it’s more complex than that. The main small town teams that have been successful have lucked into (drafted) a very rare breed of superstar that has shown tremendous loyalty (Durant, Duncan, Malone/Stockton).

    In general, though, I think it’s a little of both. If Cleveland had been competent enough to build James an elite supporting cast, would he have bolted? Maybe not. Same with Carmelo. It’s impossible to say. But generally speaking, the small town teams with true success usually find that superstar with a rare degree of loyalty.

  53. Wow that NBA jersey will give me awesome dreams? Sold.

  54. Lakers doin’ work! Just gotta hang on for 1 more quarter!

  55. Shannon, sometimes a wide-open ten-footer is the right shot to take.

  56. shannon what happened to you

  57. 5 blocks!!!! Nicely done Mr. Bynum

  58. Reason #137 why Sam Presti is a genius: He got Dequan Cook for a bag of pretzels and a smoothie

  59. 57. Cook has one skill, and one skill only. OKC doesn’t have any great post players and Drew is controlling the paint, so Cook’s man should just stick to him and prevent him from getting a clean look at a three.

  60. Cook has hurt us. That’s 9 points that I don’t think anyone was expecting.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have a 3-point shooter to spread the floor like that on our team?

  61. Bynum just showed me why he’s so important to this team. He just laid down the law on a poor Thunder driving into the lane.

  62. Wow, Kobe gets hit on the arm two times in a row, and the ref tells him to make the shot lol. Wow.

    But I’be been impressed with brown he’s been taking it the rim and not settling for bad jumpers. I’ve not been impressed with Ron consistently bulling his way into the lane and turning it over.

  63. OK, Drew needed a rest. But this is one game where Phil should really consider bringing him back in with two minutes left, at least for some defensive possessions.

    Edit – wow, I’ve really been riding his jock today :D

  64. I’m pretty sure Kobe told Jabby “I’ve never heard that in 15 years”, referring to the other refs comment. No refs job is to antagonize the players, their job is to make the calls..very unprofessional but also kinda fun at the same time. How great would a Kobe gamewinner be, only to offer some lip service to the refs afterwards rather than the other team!

  65. javie hates kobe

  66. LMAO at the flop…that was as blatant as they come

  67. Fantastic flop by Harden there.

  68. How in the world is that not a foul?

  69. How the hell is that not a foul?

  70. Worst refs I’ve ever seen.

  71. Wow. I cannot believe that wasn’t called. I am stunned.

  72. Awesome officiating.

    But, I’m not liking Kobe’s one-on-one mentality right now.

  73. Explain to me how there was no call on that play?

    And use small words, because despite how horrible the referees are, I am still an NBA fan, and therefore I am obviously an idiot…

    >.<

  74. Hmmm…that was an “interesting” non-call from the refs on Kobe’s drive.

  75. And that should’ve been an and-1 too! Wtf?!

  76. And he was fouled on that shot as well. Incredible.

  77. Not to mention the non-call on the elbow on that last shot

  78. And people claim Kobe gets superstar treatment from the refs. Please.

  79. The officiating in the 4th has been incredibly one-sided. It’s sad.

  80. Drew needs to be brought back in for this defensive possession. If not, let’s hope our bigs can defend the rim and grab the rebound.

    Edit – an Artest steal also works :D

  81. Wow definitely a foul on that fadeaway by Kobe, still made it. Don’t think ive ever seen a made jumper on an elbow foul, let alone a fadeaway

  82. artest baby!

  83. Is there any way that drive is a no call against Lebron or Durant? No f-ing way. Especially Lebron..so pathetic

  84. Is it just me, or do the Thunder move on every pick they try to make for Durant?

  85. Great steal. Not the best shot. But I LOVE Kobe’s mentality.

  86. Attaboy PAU!!

  87. Huge defensive plays down the stretch by Artest and Pau.

  88. good job Gasol take that charge

  89. Why did we go to Odom again?

  90. worst freethrows ever haha

  91. Come on, LO.

  92. Crap, Odom should have passed that ball earlier.

  93. Wow. Way to choke two freebies, Lamar.

  94. 81. OK, I missed the first couple seconds of our last possession. Who passed it to Lamar?

  95. Oh man, LO misses both FT’s. But it is OK, we won, although it could have been worse.

  96. I looked away from the TV for a second. Did Kobe just chuck a towel at Lamar in anger?

  97. I would say ‘good choke job, L.O.’, but he’s been terrible all yr from the line.

  98. I swear to FSM my heart skipped three beats on that last play.

  99. Woots! Damn this was a gut wrenching awesome game! I love both these teams but Lakers are still my team so glad we got the win!

  100. Great win. I hope the Lakers continue to build on this win streak.

  101. Very nice road win for the Lakers

  102. That last jumper by Kobe really tied the game together.

  103. Thing is, OKC got better on defense with the trade of Perkins, while sacrificing some of their fiery offense. Problem is, they’re not going to beat the Lakers if it’s about defense, especially when LA’s on.

    And I’ll bet that at least 4 out of 7 times, we’ll be on.

  104. This is shaping up to be quite the rivalry.

    I’m afraid officiating will continue to be a problem. The OKC crowd is too intense, they’d sway any ref (although normally Javie is a better ref for the road team).

  105. I’m not surprised LO missed both freethrows. He’s not a terrible ft shooter but he isn’t good by any stretch. But the Lakers got down by 14 in the second half and fought back in the game. Good win on the road. Other than early in the second quarter the bench played a good game, which is rare on the road.

    But this was a game kobe couldn’t buy a call, well lately Kobe hasn’t really gotten any calls. But Kobe was hit on the wrist on 3 shots late in the fourth, including getting hammered on his way to the basket and didn’t shoot a freethrow. Lebron and Wade would’ve been to line each and every time. I’m not saying it’s Kobe’s fault that he doesn’t get those calls, but when he starts jawing at the refs early, they put their whistles in their pockets and stop doing their jobs.

  106. So, looking forward to the guys going best-of-7 against that team plus

    Kendrick Perkins
    Nazr Mohmmed
    Nate Robinson

    Ugh.

  107. Watched the game on my 1080p tv, so no time for comments.

    Really happy with the win. Didn’t start watching till the 2nd half, so I can’t really comment on that. But in the 2nd half, the Laker defense was amazing.

    I was a little bit disappointed with Kobe repeatedly going 1v1 when it was obvious that the right play was to go to the post with Gasol. Harden was playing great defense and Kobe just kept forcing the issue.

    To me, this game shows that the Thunder are still going to have an extremely tough time against us in the playoffs. Westbrook is a borderline liability in the 4th quarter, and if Harden isn’t hitting threes, a lineup of Westbrook/Harden/Durant/Ibaka/Perkins is going to be Durant going 1v5. And with Artest doing such an excellent job on Durant, the Thunder are going to have an extremely hard time in the 4th quarter against us.

  108. Light week this week:

    @MIN
    CHA

    THEN comes the Southwest death week:

    @SA
    @ATL
    @MIA
    @DAL

  109. Snoopy, he did chuck the towel towards Lamar’s face (the side of it anyway), and had a few words, but I am sure all was in fun, somewhat.

  110. Really good game, and to me Drew was the player of the game.

  111. 106. I always thought Kobe needs to work on his ref ass kissing

  112. That game was pretty fun to watch. The Thunder got up with energy plays (and 3 pt shooting by Sefalosha), and then the Lakers fought back with energy plays (and pretty good shooting by Artest).

    Kobe definitely forced the issue there in the 4th, and I hate seeing so much ISO when they couldn’t guard the Kobe/Pau pick and roll all night, but I think it was because the Pau post up of Ibaka was leading to a ton of turnovers – either blocks, or missed gimmes, or straight up steals.

    My question is,and I understand that the Thunder went small, why not play Bynum there in the 4th, instead of Odom, because he was having a monster game on D and on the boards.

    I feel like we were up 87-80, Bynum got switched out, and even though our defense was good, it became slightly easier to score because they were preying on Lamars help D.

    All in all though a pretty fun game to watch, and super competitive at that.

  113. This game def shows how the seeding will have a big impact on the playoffs. Winning this gave us I think a 3 game lead on OKC. As it stands, we’d get Dallas in the second round while SA has to deal with OKC…I really don’t think it will matter between the 2 and 3 seeds bc we can beat Dallas either way. But by staying in front of OKC, we’d have HCA vs them and most likely would only have to face one of SA and OKC, our two biggest threats IMO

  114. Another game where our focus on D improved as the game went along. We need to win vs. Min and Cha before what promises to be the toughest 4 game stretch of the year. Keep building on it and let’s go Lakers!

  115. I enjoyed watching this game because Bynum really got into it defensively and tried to get some offensive rebounds. He wasn’t a huge factor on offense but that’s okay. We have a lot of guys who can score on any given night and he’s one of them. I also applaud Artest’s defense on Durant–especially denying the pass away from the ball. The lakers can be confident that they’ll have a chance to win the game when Artest plays such an active role.

    Lakers could still clean up the offensive side of the ball, but it was nice to see them battle defensively, even if they weren’t at their best with the ball. Even nicer to come away with the win.

    Other thoughts:
    1. Westbrook has a better outside shot than he used to.
    2. Lakers know he loves to get to the rim and won’t dish. Hence all the charges on his drives. He’ll need to recognize that tendency and distribute better.
    3. Steve Blake and Shannon Brown didn’t produce much offensively but played with heart.
    4. Where was Nate Robinson??? OKC was struggling to score and he didn’t get a single minute? Not sure I like that decision.

  116. I wish Bynum would bring it like this every night.