The Good, The Bad, And the Missed Shots

Phillip Barnett —  February 24, 2012

Box Score: Lakers 85, Thunder 100
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 81.7, Thunder 96.2
True Shooting %: Lakers 51.2%, Thunder 60.6%

The Lakers came out with a concerted effort on the defensive end of the floor, rotating well and defending the pick and roll as good as I’ve seen them in the last few seasons. Guards were fighting through screens while bigs were hedging and recovering back to their men before Russell Westbrook could turn the corner or hit the cutting big. Westbrook struggled early, shooting three-for-eight in the first half with the credit going to the team working together as a cohesive unit instead of allowing Derek Fisher and Steve Blake to try and defend them on an island. Also, the Lakers were ending their defensive possessions with rebounds, not giving up second chance points (only two in the first half). On the offensive end, they had some nice moments with Kobe playing off the ball, but didn’t really put in an effort to maintain that strategy (more on this later).

It looked as if the Lakers were going into the half with all the momentum, they were on a 7-1 run before Russell Westbrook knocked down a three pointer with eight-tenths of a second left to play. On the ensuing inbound, Andrew Bynum carelessly threw it in to Kevin Durant, who knocked down a jumper on the baseline as the time expired. Five points in .08 seconds gave the Thunder the lead and a huge momentum boost aided by the ruckus crowd. The third quarter saw the Thunder getting out on the run as the Lakers turned the ball over and missed four three-pointers, which led to long rebounds and open floor for the spry Thunder legs. Also, they had no answer for Kevin Durant for much of the game. Durant finished with 33 points on 54 percent shooting and six assists, and four rebounds.

The Lakers missed a lot of shots, and a lot of them that didn’t need to be taken. For the second straight night, Kobe took some ill-advised shots. Tonight, Bean shot seven-for-24, with a lot of those shots being off of contested jumpers and shots off the dribble. Kobe looked his best, as he has for much of the season, catching and shooting off of curls and screens or driving to the basket and finishing around the rim. Kobe had a little success on coming off the ball early in the first, but went away from trusting other ball handlers and took it upon himself to create his own shot. Granted, there were at least three possessions that saw Kobe with his head up looking for a teammate with no one else on the offense moving — forcing him to throw up a jump shot. But for the most part, Kobe was trying to force the issue himself, and it’s a huge reason why the Lakers struggled so much in the 2nd half. Kobe wasn’t the only one who struggled to shoot the ball, though. Andrew Bynum’s legs looked dead from the start of this game. He had a lot of good looks, but he didn’t have any lift on those little jump hooks he hit regularly against Dallas just a night ago. All in all, the Lakers just didn’t shoot the ball well. They weren’t horrible on the defensive end, per se, but their inability to put the ball through the hoop really took some of the wind out of their intensity of that end of the ball.

The Lakers will go into the All-Star break with a 20-14 record and 2nd in the Pacific Division.

Phillip Barnett