Lakers/Thunder Game 1: Boot To The Neck

Darius Soriano —  May 14, 2012

Well, that went about as bad as it could have, huh?

The Lakers were out-everythinged by the Thunder in the opening contest of round two, having their hats handed to them in a 29 point drubbing with final count 119-90.

There’s really not much to say here so I’ll keep it brief.

The Thunder, outside of a handful of plays that didn’t work out that you might expect, got everything going their way tonight. And while they deserve all the credit in the world for playing as well as they did, for being prepared to play after an extended lay off, and for executing their game plan, I also look at a lot of the little mistakes the Lakers made and wonder if this game could have been different had they made any of a myriad of adjustments in game. Not necessarily if the Lakers could have won this game, but rather if they wouldn’t have looked so bad in losing.

In my series previews, I rattled off a bunch of keys that would need to go the Lakers way if they were to win. Imagine them as a checklist:

  • Don’t let Westbrook find a rhythm as a shooter.
  • Ball security is a must, as OKC will turn turnovers into the easy points in transition.
  • Find a way to slow Harden as he’s the key to their second unit and their most natural playmaker. Who guards him is an open question, but whoever does must be effective.
  • Mark the wings not named KD/Russ/Harden. They’re only in the game to shoot the open three pointers that their big three create for them.
  • Get creative on offense by using screen actions – especially for Kobe.
  • Try to utilize Sessions going to the basket and let him loose more to help him find a rhythm.
  • Make three point shots to loosen up the D

There were more variables, but this is a good place to end because none of these things went the Lakers way:

  • Westbrook found open space coming off screens, got into a groove on his mid-range jumper, and punished the Lakers with shots that you may want him taking but when he gets hot he’s more than capable of burying. Bynum and the other Lakers’ bigs played below the screen or allowed Russ to split the double off the pick and that set him free to take shots in a flow.
  • In the 1st half the Lakers had 8 turnovers which the Thunder converted into 16 points. For the game they had 21 points off 15 Lakers’ TO’s.
  • Harden, though only shooting 4-11 from the floor was still able to score 17 points mostly off the strength of getting to the FT line 10 times (making 9). When he first checked into the game he was flanked by both Westbrook and KD and that led to Mike Brown assigning Steve Blake to guard Harden. That led to Harden going into full attack mode, working the P&R and in isolation to get to the basket and compromise the Laker D. His final numbers don’t pop, but when he came into the game his impact was definitely felt.
  • Daeqan Cook was the main OKC wing player that saw early minutes and he hit 3 quick shots (including a buzzer beater at the end of the 1st quarter) to score 8 points. Those would be the only 8 points he scored but that’s besides the point. His early game production sparked his team and helped them go on the run that gave the Thunder their first cushion.
  • The last three bullet points all reference the Lakers offensive attack and none of those things went the way the Lakers would have hoped. Kobe worked in isolation most of the night, never able to shake free from Sefolosha’s defense. Too often Kobe worked from 20 feet and out and tried to create his own offense off the dribble against one of the elite wing defenders in the league. As for Sessions, he still hasn’t been able to escape the funk he’s been in. He’s being asked to run a slow down offensive game to the benefit of his teammates but in the process his own production is suffering. Sure, he was able to attack off the dribble a handful of times but it’s obvious his rhythm is non-existent. He only hit one of his seven attempts from the floor, didn’t go to the foul line, and was mostly a spectator. Also, while the Lakers hit 7 of their 15 three point attempts, none really came into play as difference making shots. Yes, Ron’s early bombs kept the Lakers afloat but over the course of the game, those shots meant little as the Thunder D ground the Lakers down in other ways to make their overall offense sputter.

And that was basically the game. The Thunder showed their class, the Lakers looked a bit tired but also lost focus as the game progressed and were never able to recapture that early aggressiveness that kept them in the game. Bynum did show he could score well on Perkins and Pau showed that he could be an impact on the offensive glass but those positives were outweighed by the Thunder’s ability to impose their will on the Lakers and run away with the game.

At this point, the Lakers can tweak some things but the original game plan is still one that needs to be executed to give them their best shot. In a way, tonight’s game reminds me of game 1 from the first round but from the Nuggets’ perspective. If you recall, in that game George Karl told his team that they needed to go out and execute the plan because he had no clue if it could work or not because they weren’t doing it. Tonight, the same could be said of the Lakers. They didn’t show hard on P&R’s, didn’t screen well or get Kobe open, and were too careless with the ball. These are execution issues that need to be resolved. Even if these things are done better the Thunder may still win the game, but until they are we can’t know for sure.

Hopefully in game two, we see better.

Darius Soriano

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67 responses to Lakers/Thunder Game 1: Boot To The Neck

  1. whew!!!! that was a tough game men…i thought our are in control in the first few minutes…well there are 6 games left let’s hope D and O will be higher for the rest of the series coz it’s really hard to beat OKC with young legs…go go go lakers!!!

  2. It’s only been eight (8) post season games, Sessions first eight post season games…but it’s starting to appear that he’s not the answer to the Lakers point guard issues. Especially since he plans to opt out & become a restricted free agent seeking more than the $4.5+ million due him next season.

    Brutal game.

  3. Great write-up Darius, I missed the game because of work, but the recap pretty much took care of it. I noticed a lot of the Lakers players in the Box Score were in the negative +/- twenties and teens, not good at all.

  4. Boot to the neck?

    More like a “thunder bolt to the groin.

    Ouch

  5. i think some of us expected that this game 1 will be really difficult to steal, coz of the Nuggets series effect. however, game 2 is the game which we should focus on and try to bring our A game. if we can get game 2, pressure is on them. BUT, in order to win, the team needs to analyze what happened in game 1(we were out-everythinged by OKC, with LUCK as all of their shots went in).

    i expect a better game for us come game 2. if we really want this series, we should show life NOW and start punishing them back. payback time – game 2.

  6. ShotFromTheCorner May 14, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Bynum: 20 Points (7 of 12 FGs and 6 of 6 FTs) with 14 Rebounds.

    Ibaka, Perkins, Mohammed: 17 Points (8 of 12 FGs and 1 of 2 FTs) with 9 Rebounds.

    SImply mentioning the stats, so that we hopefully can stop hearing the “trade Bynum” moaning…

    The more the Lakers feed Bynum, the better it will all go, especially against the Thunder. Let Andrew wear their big men out, get them in foul trouble, and then go to work on the smaller bodies that will be forced into the post with him.

  7. A brassy move has to be made. Sessions must be benched the moment is too much for him perfect example is the turnover to start the game. And Kobe has to be the primary ball handler.

    Some positives: Barnes made 2 3’s, Hill was energetic, Bynum looked unstoppable 12 shots too low for this series needs to be in the 20s, Ron posting up was extremely effective. All those can carry over.

  8. I found the game very depressing.

    I don’t know if it’s Laker chemistry or coaching, but the Thunder, even at their best, are not that much better (or smarter) than the Lakers.

  9. After Lakers win game 1 and 2 against Denver, my friend told me that he thinks Lakers will beat OKC in the second round, i told him, i don’t think so, because i don’t believe in Mike Brown with his defensive scheme. Several months ago, LAtimes had an article, people said that Lakers will be dangerous team in the playoffs because they will have one day rest between games.
    The truths is Lakers above average team in offensively and defensively. On the road Lakers can score only around 88, 87 pts and playing bad defense. San Antonio when they win championship they score the same but their defense was number one in the NBA.

  10. This team is just a bad matchup for, the Lakers–that was clear months ago. The Lakers will play them tougher in Game 2, but that is about all there is.
    ___________

    Laker chemistry or coaching
    —-

    It’s personnel.

  11. If Sessions is going to play this way, they may as well start Blake, who can match up w/Thabo, and let Ramon play more up-tempo vs. the likes of Fisher and Cook.

  12. I’m with Aaron, the Lakers are going to win this series. OKC are just not intimidating. Lakers win this series in six games.

    The Lakers were never going to win this game. Gassed from the Denver series, they just didn’t have their legs. The only player that looked sprite and bouncy was MWP. Coach Brown is playing the Lakers too many minutes, he’s going to have to find away to up that 8 man rotation this series. Ebanks earned playing time, yet MB didn’t play him during meaningful minutes this game. Ebanks wasn’t even the first player off the bench in garbage time…huh? That’s how he treats a player that gave his all and helped the Lakers against the Nuggets.

    The Lakers will win the game on Wednesday if MB finds a way to get better use of his bench. Sessions is timid, and Blake is too inconsistent. Both are liabilities on either end of the floor. Ramon Sessions is retreating into a shell the more he wears a Laker uniform. Unbelievable, as Blake did the same thing.

    Where is Sasha when you need him he at least played semi-defense. He hit the occasional shot too, though he was never a machine. Farmar was never as good as he thought he was, but at least he was never afraid!

  13. Bynum: 20 Points (7 of 12 FGs and 6 of 6 FTs) with 14 Rebounds.

    Ibaka, Perkins, Mohammed: 17 Points (8 of 12 FGs and 1 of 2 FTs) with 9 Rebounds.

    Actually, those numbers show why the Lakers are in trouble in this series. OKC’s four-big rotation can more or less counter, or at least slow, Gasol and Bynum. And the Lakers have no real answer for the Durant/Westbrook/Harden combination.

  14. Is it Coaching, Laker Chemistry, Its Personnel?

    ~~I say everything. Thunder owned the Lakers by lock, stock and barrel. What’s good Mbrown is still smilin’ because he has a secured job for the next two more years while Laker fans are on two years famine and two years remaining of post Kobe. Once Kobe, Peace and Gasol are gone, it’s all Jimbo Show.

    Biggest problems of Lakers this season, starters are aging who played too many minutes during the season. Bench is always MIA and F/O helped little but would rather save a buck than compete for Championship.

    There’s still hope as long as there are games to be played.

  15. OKC was 30th in turnovers during the season. They had only four in Game 1.

    Maybe the Lakers could try a zone for an extended period…

  16. The Thunder were 3rd in the regular season for Points scored per game. The Lakers were 15th.

    The Lakers were 15th in Points scored against them, while the Thunder were 17th.

    I don’t care who you are, you are not going to get too far in the playoffs while ranking so far down in those categories.

    The Thunder are disciplined, prim and hungry…and the Lakers are ripe for the picking.

    I think a Spurs/Thunder series will be epic.

  17. anti Dwyer Abbott May 15, 2012 at 12:07 am

    This series is over in 5. OKC is too much.
    Lakers should see this:Pau+Bynum same time will never work.Too slow,too loafy,occupying to much space in the middle.

  18. Hey, maybe we have them right where we want them. Literally everything that could go right for OKC did. Harden got to the line whenever he wanted. Westbrook and KD – heck everybody on the team – hit everything they threw up. They didn’t turn the ball over at all. It was way too easy for them tonight.

    And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe they will continue to resort to taking pull-up 20 footers. They can’t continue to go in at that rate.

    Can they?

  19. Brian — “Can they?”

    Yes, and that’s the scary part.

  20. The ironic thing is that we all thought Bynum was talking about Denver when he said that “teams tend to fold if you come out and play hard in the beginning” – but he meant the Lakers.

    This is over in 4.

    Maybe a good thing as Buss will have to make some major changes. If they stick with this same team/coach then they are going to get the same result as the last two years.

    I love kobe but his salary is killing this team. I’m not saying to amnesty him but lakers hands seem kind of tied as to any major changes that they can make to build an elite team again.

    I’d rather see them blow up the team and go a few years with no playoff run. But have a damn good plan for the future.

  21. You are as strong as your weakest link. Unfortunately, our weakest link in Session/Blake is very, very weak. They are NOT really point guards. They don’t have the mentality of creating shots for other players. When they walk the ball down the court, they threw the ball to the first person who posted up, instead of waiting for the team to settle and passing the ball to the best options the defense presented. As a result, there were many occasions when Session/Blake would throw the ball to Hill in the post first, thus making him the focus of offense on these possessions, while Bynum, Kobe were on the weak side waiting. When Session/Blake penetrate, they were often single-mindedly going to the basket, rather than passing the ball to our bigs.

    It is true that our bigs are our advantage in this series. But if they are not helped by the guards, the games will take a heavy toll on them. Perhaps this is one of the reasons our bigs can’t be consistent game after game. They simply get tired.

    On offense our PG are peripheral participants. On defense they are terrible. This puts a lot of pressure on the rest of the team on the floor.

  22. guys its just game one…the lakers absolutely have a chance in this one calm down

  23. ebanks behaviour was disgraceful

  24. Warren Wee Lim May 15, 2012 at 2:44 am

    Wasn’t too long ago when Sessions was the next coming of Jesus. Now its sunk to the point that you’d want Blake to start over him and even missed Sasha Vujacic. Sigh.

    The OKC Thunder can add 50 more points into game 1 (make it a 79-pt loss) and it means the same as sugar added into syrup – NOTHING. The game was a loss, the Lakers didn’t do anything too bad, the Thunder did alot of things too good. That’s a testament of how young and good they are.

    Unlike most of you, I didn’t bother watching the 2nd half. I just checked the 1st 4 minutes of the third to see if we were able to chip in on the lead from 15 down to perhaps 8-9. Seeing it was the other way around, I was lucky enough not to bother watching the rest of the way. Saved myself the stress.

    But now comes the cliche. As much as the drubbing hurt (yes 79 points hurt) its JUST ONE GAME. Last I checked trailing 1-0 never meant you no longer have a chance. Last I checked, the Thunder merely “held serve” and it was a game to forget.

    The OKC Thunder showed the league how good they can be if they can manage their clumsiness with the rock. Thats all that game meant. Its a loss, it means the same if KD sunk a 40-footer 3pter at the buzzer. Its just 1 game.

    The Lakers, need to regroup. The one game they cannot lose is game 3, but as far as I’m concerned, the most winnable game in the series will be game 2. Why? Coz I said so. But its also the game where the Thunder feels so good about themselves that its easy to lose track on the reality of things that it was, after all, despite being a 79-pt-win, JUST ONE GAME.

    I maintain my position that this is, a very winnable series. It starts with winning game 2.

  25. Maybe the Lakers can let Kobe play pg, with Steve Blake as SG ala Ray Allen or Rip Hamilton catch and shoot jumper to wear out Westbrook. Then Sessions coming off the bench for scoring with Barnes.

  26. I agree that we need tonplay sessions on the bench where he was most comfortable and gives us a counter to harden for bench points

    It also may make sense to go big with Kobe at pg in the dallas zone they tried

    Okc really shot lights out but we did nothing to disrupt their sets – we need to get them in uncomfortable spots

  27. Last series Kobe said he looked around the locker room and realized only he, Gasol, Bynum, & MWP have been here before. Well, those four accounted for 62 of their 90 points in game one. The other four regular post-season rotation players (Sessions, Barnes, Blake, & Hill): 14. With the balance of points (14) coming from the end of the bench in garbage time.

    It’s only one game, however it looked very telling. Games 3 & 4 in L. A. are back to back. No way is that in L. A.’s favor.

    Another point, are the Thunder “allowing” Bynum to get his on offense by utilizing single coverage knowing his offense takes away from his defense?

    Game #2, let’s see how coach Brown & the boys respond.

    Buss family & Mitch are watching …closely.

  28. I hope history repeats itself after the game 1 massacre Lakers comes out strong in Game 2 and eventually win the series in 6 games. I hate dirty plays but I want to see some hard playoff fouls were Harden and Westbrook would second guess the next time they drive down the lane. OKC’s bench would not shoot that crazy fg % again in this series. Lakers should send some message that they would not go down easily and hand this series to the Thunders in a silver plate. They just held serve and did what they are supposed to do. Now we have seen what they can and will do time for the high paid coaching staff to do their work and make the adjustments.

  29. The Lakers need to hire Dean Lombardi as GM. The Kings are going to win the Cup and that will overcome this whole Lakers fiasco that we have to watch. We simply dont have the players to go any further then this round and I blame Stern not the FO. Lakers should have sued the league the minute that CP3 trade was nixed. That destroyed the Lakers for this year.

  30. rr: Thank you for mentioning turnovers. I am usually redundant in my complaints (FO, Turnovers, Bench), however I have been remiss in mentioning TO’s for a few days. We lost the TO battle in Game one 15-4. Losing the TO battle this badly to OKC is like losing a best dressed contest to Jim Buss. OKC only won the TO stat 18 times this year and they won 17 of those games.

  31. Bench: We lost 50-26 + it was actually worse than that. At one point it was like 20-2 and that was when the 2nd qtr carnage started. Not that the starters did well mind you (yes I can read the +/- stats : ) However most teams can try to change things up and bring in some instant offense from their bench (aka Harden or Manu G).

  32. anti Dwyer Abbott May 15, 2012 at 7:02 am

    From Elias: The Thunder defeated the Lakers by 29 points in Game 1 of their playoff series on Monday. That’s the Lakers’ largest margin of defeat in Game 1 of a postseason series since a 35-point loss to the Jazz in Game 1 of their 1998 series. Utah went on to sweep Los Angeles in that series.

    Well good luck.

  33. Noone played well last night and the Lakers deserved to lose.

    Because Kobe was so gassed the Thunder had the best player on the floor at all times.

    And while this game wasn’t close – the refereeing was a little shady. Harden/WB weren’t allowed to be touched going to the glass, but there were at least 4-5 plays where Kobe got smacked in the face after the shot had gone up where the ref just shook his head and laughed at him.

    Now… aside from all that.

    I understand that the Lakers were tired from the Denver series. Thats all fine and good. But, this is the playoffs. Why are they acting like the 2010 Celtics – who thought they could mail in playoff games? Thats the karma that came back to bite the Celtics at the end.

    Why is it acceptable to play hard once every 3 games? Especially in a playoff game? How do you get blown out by 30 points in game 1 of a series if you honestly expect to win the series.

    The Lakers didn’t even fight back in the 2nd half – they just traded baskets. When Kobe’s having a dead legged night, when are the other players going to step up and make the Thunder adjust to them? Isn’t that the point of having 2 bigs and a speedy guard. Make the Thunder play our game – stop walking the ball up and playing each possession till the shot clock expires. Make em move on defense and hurt running through screens.

  34. Miami is the only team in contention without a quick point guard. How do they handle teams with quick PG’s defensively? Maybe Brown can learn a few things from Spolestra. Brown is a horrible coach and now we are stuck with him.

  35. That was a thunderbolt to the head.

    But it was a lot less painful than the losses to the Nuggets. This time at least we lost while we were fighting, caring, and doing our best to compete. Losing after fighting well hurts a heck of a lot less.

    This first game was the Thunder exploding out of the starting blocks, which probably would have given them the win in the 100-meter dash. Thing is, the playoffs are a 5K, at least. I have not given up. We can still win this. We need some luck, and lots of hard work, but we could actually win this. This is one series I genuinely feel can go either way.

  36. Lakers were able to turn around the Nuggets in first round just to save them from embarrassment. In the debacle last night, it was predicted and expected by scribes and experts.

    My question is: Can Mike Brown turn it around? My gut feeling says “NO”.

    However, if there’s anybody who could turn this around, it would be the Laker themselves from Kobe, Gasol, Bynum, Peace, Sessions, Blake, Hill, Barnes and Ebanks to have a resolve on how they will approach Game 2.

    From the get go, I think the Laker nation are not fascinated with Mike Brown. He is a good guy, fundamentally sound in his basketball knowledge but he lacks the “IT” which creativity in Hollywood. Besides that, MBrown is fully scouted by the Thunder with his style substitution, his plays prone to T/O’s and playing Sessions and Blake simultaneously. By 4th Q, you could sense fatigue and dead tire running around so brick shots were all over the place.

    MBrown inherited a team composed of Superstars with bad wheels in a depreciated body that needs major tune up. It showed last year against Mavs tortured by a lilliputian Berea and an averaged Center Chandler. Lakers can still compete but no longer against Formula racing cars, their engines are not apt to open racing.

    What is needed here IMHO is creativity that could rejuvenate a team and make them believe again on their ability to survive and save the Lakers from humiliation and further debacle. MB putting down fires on players who are anxious to play and help. McRob, Goudelock and Murphy lost their confidence. They now believe with MB that they’re no good but good enough to play in garbage time.

    I think only the players can save themselves so if you sit down Kobe et al, they could come up with a plan. The coaching staff should just support those plans and aid in harnessing the skills like F/T shooting, substitutions and other fundamentals. Leave the players alone to execute their plans, something that the opposing scouts have not envisioned.

  37. Paul, Chalmers is a good defender (even against speedy PGs), much better than Sessions (who is far worst on that end than I imagined) and Blake. Also James is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league and can guard any position 1-3 (and probably most 4s in the league, at least for a few positions).

  38. The Lakers are in great shape. They had a night off to rest ad it only cost them game one. What we learned is what we already knew. Bynum can’t be guarded with single coverage and Kobe can. I wish the Lakers listened to Darius and let Ramon play PG attacking with high PnR’s against a bad PnR defensive team. What happened to those days? Rememeber when Sessions was allowed to play PG the last month of the season and the Lakers offense was the best in the NBA? Why did LA change their offense for the playoffs? Ramon is a true PG… He isn’t a spot up shooter. Why are they doing this? Anyone?

    To win game 2 all that needs to be done is for the Lakers to play smart and for Kobe to play hard on defense. He can guard Westrbook pretty easily. I’ve seen it for the last four years. I saw it last month. If the Lakers attack with Ramon high PnR’s to create for his teammates and pound the ball every other time down into Bynum LA should win. It’s almost that simple. Kobe cane create his own offense anymore. Not effectively at least. He just can’t get off good shots against quality defenders anymore. Rememeber a few years ago when OKC had to swicth Thabo off Kobe and needed to put Durant on him? Well… That doesn’t need to be done anymore. Kobe can’t exploit Thabo in ISOS. The Lakers need to adjust accordingly. This is my Mike Brown test. To me the Lakers have this series with average coaching. I think the Lakers have that.

  39. @37

    remember when on April 22nd, Kobe killed Sefa in the 4th?

    and that Sessions watched from the bench?

    RS is an inexperienced and overwhelmed brain midget who’s only quality is speed. his dribble is too high and people steal his ball. his floaters are weak and do not work against shot blockers like Denver and now Ibaka.

    there is no P&R – Gassy does not roll.

    the Infatuation Sessions are over. just another backup scrub.

    who’s defense is pure garbage. garbage is a compliment. zero, zilch.

  40. That’s the lowest energy playoff game I think I’ve ever seen Kobe have so he must have been tired or still not feeling well.

    The truth is if I were Mike Brown I wouldn’t change much, maybe push Westbrook off the elbow jumper a little but if he’s consistently hitting that shot and everyone else continues to hit jumpers nobody is beating OKC, period.
    Still the offense looked good, Kobe is going to play with more energy and OKC probably isn’t going to shoot as well moving forward.

  41. correction: post 39 is addressed to #38. my bad

  42. I understand that this was just game #1 of this ‘Playoff Series.’ But truth be told, this Thunder Team has Crushed us in all 4 games this season. Yeah, I know, we came back and won ‘The Elbow Game’, but taking into account the pattern of all 4 games, that was an abberation. They were Smashing us in that game also until they let up and we came back and ‘stole’ it in overtime. Just keeping it 100%. Hate to say it and I hope that I’m dead a** wrong, but this series will go no more than 5.

  43. Post-game news conference:

    Reporter: Can you guard them?

    Kobe: Excuse me?

    Reporter: Can you guard them? As a team?

    Kobe: No.

  44. Can we just admit that the Thunder are a (vastly) superior team with better, younger, deeper talent? No coaching change, lineup change or any amount of rest can swing this series.

    Thunder in 5 at most

  45. How was Sessions most effective as a Laker. Running PnR/PnP with Pau. Pau starts the 2nd so does Sessions that’s a prime time to run that action. Not so much with the 1st unit. I watched the replay Sessions had space to shoot a few times the 1st quarter but was not looking at the basket. Sessions whole career he’s been a primary PnR player just read and react of that set. Now he’s in a structured offense and he’s over thinking the game. Combine that with his first 2nd round appearance it would take pressure off him if you put him where he’s most comfortable. The bench.

    Blake is hot 14/31 3pt 45% in playoffs. Sessions not so much 4/21 3pt 19%.

  46. Can we just admit that the Thunder are a (vastly) superior team with better, younger, deeper talent
    \
    ___

    Kobe pretty much did–those are actual quotes from his presser.

  47. @Paul, #45
    They absolutely are. But who says we can’t win anyway? Yeah, the odds are in their favor, but the playoffs are where anything can happen, and does happen.

  48. Kobe cannot guard Westbrook. Has anyone watched the Thunder play the Lakers this year? Westbrook has a gear that Kobe no longer has.

    There is a reason the Lakers get destroyed by quick point guards. If Kobe was capable of altering this, then they would put him on the point guard and they could alleviate that problem.

    With the Lakers, there is no answer for stopping Westbrook. Much like there was no answer for stopping JJ Barea, Ty Lawson, Aaron Brooks, and the list goes on.

  49. Edwin+1/2Decaf: Yes the bench is a huge problem. And OK I will plead guilty to stating that this is a FO problem – repeatedly : ) Should MB try something different? Yes. Zone, different rotations, Kobe covering diff guys – etc. However, let’s not put this all on MB (as Edwin stated it needs to be the players). You can’t be expected to win at chess with less pieces than your opponent, at the start of the game : )
    1/2 Decaf: The beauty of being as redundant as I am, is that nobody can say I started my Buss attack after Game 1. I have pretty much kept it up after every game this year ; )
    We can also agree on this. This series is not over. We have Kobe + they don’t – so there is always hope !

  50. rr: Those KB quotes are brutal. I am hoping he is as wrong as AB was in saying that close out games are easy. Somehow I think KB may be on to something here though.

  51. Agree with Aaron. Anyone who saw Sessions play before he came to LA knows he’s a PG. But on a post-heavy team that also has Kobe eating up most of the perimeter touches, there’s little use for a true slash-and-kick PG. I should correct that – we have a huge need for that facet of the game, but it’s difficult to maximize because Sessions is trying to stay out of everyone’s way right now. You need a PG with the cachet to take the ball out of the stars’ hands and take over, and Sessions does not have that cachet. It’s obvious he has no comfort level with his teammates right now.

    If the NBA ever outlawed the pick and roll, I feel like we could rattle off 5 more championships. Can’t think of a team that is less dependent on the PnR and hurt more by it on the other end.

  52. We have Kobe + they don’t – so there is always hope !

    _

    They have Durant, buddy.

    The Lakers will come out tougher in Game 2, and I will be rooting for them.

  53. Re. Sessions:

    I agree he is not being utilized well; many of us said when he was acquired that to get the most out of him, Brown would need to turn him loose. Isn’t happening.

    Sessions, however, is simply not playing well, and while I knew his D was an issue, it has been more of one than I expected.

  54. OKC +51 in 3rd quarter. 125 – 74. I’m not sure what this means.

  55. 44, 50,

    !/2 & Rob, let’s be honest to ourselves, do we have a legitimate 2nd team? Last night at approximately 8th minute Hill and Blake came in, while 3/5 are still the starters. By 2nd quarter, Barnes got in to replace Metta so 2/5ths are the same starters who are tired at this time. Our big 3 have been playing 40 mins. in the season plus another 40 mins in the 7th game the other night. What do you expect for a dead tired human body to respond? This is like a good boxer who have been absorbing body blows and still standing.

    What about the Thunder, who are their 2nd team? Harden, Cook, Fisher, Sefo, Collison, Nazr, if ever they will leave Durant or Westbrook to support the 2nd team therefore, it’s a team composed of 1/5 starter and 4/5 fresh bodies from the bench. How can our 8 Lakers compete with 10-11 depth?

    Talent wise, we’re already behind in the 2nd Q, add the fatigue factor and aging player the gap is now wider, last night it was magnified as huge as grand canyon!

    Where are our talents? Two bigs and Kobe. Sessions was effective when he joined the Lakers being an energetic guy. Did he lose confidence along the way in assimmilating the plays handed to him by coaching staff? I think they’re more complex than the triangle. He looks tentative in penetrating or facilitating. Somebody is dictating him while playing not free to create his own openings. Now he is a goat PG losing confidence of his ability.

    That’s the reason why I say Lakers are not motivated by this Coach. They have to coach themselves to get out of this doldrums.

  56. Sessions has been off since he injured his shoulder. He’s no longer wearing the brace, but since its off he no longer has the same arc on his long ball either.

    He’s also not as bad of a defender as people are making him out to be. Most of lawson’s points came in the Open court of scramble plays. Sessions was often the only guard back if Kobe took the shot and it was a 2 on 1. What, pray tell, is he supposed to do.

    In the half court Sessions did a pretty good job on Lawson. It was Blake who was getting destroyed.

    When Blake came in last night the Thunder targeted him. It didn’t matter who he was defending – WB, Harden, Thabo. With blake in the game the ball went to the player who blake had to play defense against. WB destroyed him in the post on two consecutive possessions and Harden took him off the dribble and too the rack whenever he pleased.

    Not to say Sessions is so much better – but the Thunder game plan was to go at Blake, and, unsurprisingly, it worked.

    Also – for those of you with a bad memory – in the “elbow game” the lakers were up by 2 when MWP got ejected. The thunder were then up by 4 at the half. They went on their run in the 3rd quarter – with both Metta AND Harden out of the game. And a lot of that run had to do with #17 loafing up and down the court. If you go back and read the game logs to that day – even Darius said #17 was slacking off. Heck – he was benched for the entire 4th quarter and thats when we got our first true glimmer of Hill.

    There’s something about the 3rd quarter for this Lakers team – with their starters, where they rarely open up the game in the 3rd and often they let it get away. That speaks to the starting lineup being inefficient as to ball handlers/spacing/complimenting games.

  57. Center centric offense

    Bynum 4/4 8pts 3 reb Lakers lead 18 – 16 .

    Went to perimeter heavy offense. OKc went on a run finished up 30 – 23. Kobe in that span 1/3 2 TO’s.

    Start of 2nd. 30 -23 OKc

    Pau 2/4 2 pts 4 reb 1 ast. 37 – 29 +1OKc

    Went to perimeter heavy offense again. OKc went on another run finished 59 – 44. Kobe 1/4 fg.

    Lakers have to be methodical and give the bigs the reigns to the offense. Not saying Kobe is the problem but running the offense from the perimeter is.

  58. Not saying Kobe is the problem but running the offense from the perimeter is.

    ___

    OKC has the personnel to reduce post opportunities if they want to. Denver did that when Karl wanted to. They also have the personnel to slow Kobe down without a lot of doubles, whereas Denver really didn’t. Also, running everything thorugh the bigs contributes to taking Sessions out of the offense.

    But the real issue is that the Lakers can’t match up with Durant, Harden and Westbrook, and OKC’s four bigs can match up to a degree with Bynum and Gasol. That is clear from the numbers and from watching.

    Even if Bynum were actually what Aaron says he is and could put up Shaq numbers 4 or 5 times against this team, or if Kobe were 28 years old, the Lakers would still have a tough time winning the series.

  59. Well, I am hopeful that things can turn around, but it will take a monumental effort. I actually think the Lakers would match up better against San Antonio and Miami. The Thunder are truly worst case scenario in my opinion.

    The front office rolled the dice a few years ago and I think most of us saw this coming. The CBA adds a lot of complications and it is hard to see a way out of this for the Lakers.

    BTW, this is a great site. I appreciate the posts and the comments. Lot of interesting thoughts from a lot of smart people.

  60. I actually think the Lakers would match up better against San Antonio and Miami.

    ___

    Correct. The Clippers match up much better with OKC than the Lakers do, in large part because of Chris Paul’s talents at ball security, playmaking, and clock management. The Clips were 3-1 vs OKC, but the Clippers will have a rough time competing with the Spurs.

    This is the series, and the round, where Stern really hurt the Lakers.

  61. decaf,

    Prior to the series, he was asked how much the lack of rest would hurt the Lakers. He said, “It doesn’t matter. We could rest for year and we wouldn’t be any faster.”

    There is no doubt that he was partly sending a message to the reporter; I am also pretty sure he was just being honest.

  62. OKC +51 in 3rd quarter. 125 – 74. I’m not sure what this means.
    ______________________

    1. That they’re making the proper adjustments during halftime & we’re not.

    2. And being that they’re making those adjustments, they’re building insurmountable leads that we can’t overcome (Take away The Elbow Game, where, IMO, they took their feet off the pedal).

  63. rr: OKC had no answer for Bynum. He dominated the 1st until they went away. Don’t know what you saw but Bynum had his way with OKC’s bigs. And Lakers offense was great running it through the post with Ron and Drew 1st quarter. Then early part of the 2nd they ran it through Pau. When the offense was ran through the perimeter is when OKC blew the game open.

  64. Kevin,

    Even if you’re right, you are grasping at straws, a la Aaron. But the “pound the ball inside and all will be well” meme was old a long time ago, for a simple reason: basketball is harder than that. Bynum isn’t going to go off for a 45/15 or something, and even if he could, the Lakers still can’t stop OKC’s perimeter guys.

  65. rr: All will be well isn’t something I said. Running the through the post bought positive results. And kept the team close. We’ll see if they make those same shots next game. The way Lakers can score is running offense through the post and maybe Bynum can get 40.

  66. I don’t think Sessions play has been his fault. The Lakers are using a lot of clock to put up the shot as they are trying to avoid putting up a poor shot leading to a rebound and transition baskets. As they grind out the clock they are being forced to put up bad shots anyway. But doing so negates any advantage of having Sessions penetrate to the basket and create openings or baskets.

    The Lakers, anyone besides Metta, Kobe, and recently Blake have been reluctant as well to pull the trigger on open 3’s. Which crams up the paint and makes it difficult for our bigs.