Preview and Chat: The Oklahoma City Thunder

Darius Soriano —  December 7, 2012 — 98 Comments

Records: Lakers 9-10 (8th in the West), Thunder 15-4 (2nd in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 105.4 (5th in the NBA), Thunder 110.9 (2nd in the NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 99.3 (8th in the NBA), Thunder 99.5 (9th in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Chris Duhon, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison, Dwight Howard
Thunder: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefalosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins
Injuries: Lakers: Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Steve Blake (all out); Thunder: none

The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers haven’t won two games in a row since November 18th and 20th against the Rockets and Nets. In the 8 games since, they’re 3-5 and have lost consecutive games twice. Yet, on the season they still have the 5th best offense, 8th best defense, and 6th best efficiency differential. When they win they do so by an average of nearly 18 points and when they lose that margin falls to only 8. What does all this means coming into a game where they won their last game, but face  one of the best teams in the league? Expect any outcome and you could end up being right. Because in terms of figuring out this team, the best I can do is that they seem to play different than I’d expect in nearly every game.

The Thunder Coming in: There’s no need to guess what the Thunder are — they’re an elite team. They lead the league in scoring differential and have won 6 consecutive games. They’re led by two players who could both make first team all-NBA, one of whom is a legit MVP candidate.

Kevin Durant is on his way to having a 50/40/90 shooting campaign while posting career highs in rebounds and assists. He’s handling the ball more, creating easier shots for himself and his teammates, playing very good defense, and does it so smoothly you’d think he’s barely trying on some possessions. His partner in crime, Russell Westbrook, is someone you’d never mistake for not trying. He’s bouncing off the walls like Ray Liotta in the last 30 minutes of Goodfellas. Every move he makes is with purpose. His drives and finishes at the rim are as ferocious as they are spectacular. His pull up jumper is becoming more of a weapon and his three point shot is improving as well. There are nights where he is still out of control, but he’s such an amazing athlete he finds ways to make a positive impact even when he highjacks too many possessions. He’s just that good.

Of course, one of the reasons Russ and KD are doing more is because James Harden was traded to the Rockets before the season. In his place is the ever efficient Kevin Martin, who is back to scoring the ball well and putting up the types of numbers that had the stats-based community in love with him for all those years. With Martin scoring well, Ibaka progressing in all facets of the game, and Perkins…well…scowling, the Thunder look to be just as good and probably better than last year’s version that went to the Finals.

Thunder Blogs: Daily Thunder is a fantastic site that you should check out for all things Thunder.

Keys to game: There are probably a dozen or so things the Lakers need to do well to win this game. And they need to to them all while holding down a Thunder team that is excellent at home and currently rolling over opponents nightly.

Rather than focusing on all of those things, here are a few that I think will mean the most towards the Lakers getting the win:

*Will Kobe guard Westbrook and, if he does, will he also have the energy to be a focal point of the Lakers’ offense on the other end? This could be the biggest factor in the game. If Kobe can limit the Thunder’s 2nd best player while still scoring and distributing efficiently, the Lakers have a real shot tonight irrespective of all the other storylines coming in.

*The next most important match up isn’t Dwight/Perkins or Ron/KD, but Jamison/Ibaka. Serge wants to protect the rim on defense but will be guarding a player that likes to hang around the perimeter, especially in transition. If Ibaka gets too caught up helping in the paint (on Howard or on Kobe drives), Jamison will be open. What he does with those shots will matter more tonight than on most others based off who is guarding him. On the other side, Ibaka likes to float around the shallow perimeter and shoot jumpers. But he will hit the glass hard. Jamison will need to recover to Ibaka when he pops out for his J while also keeping him off the offensive glass.

*Can the Lakers’ bench score enough points? Meeks and Hill will need to push the Lakers’ reserves above the 20 point total for this game to be close. Meeks must stretch the floor and Hill must outwork Collison and Thabeet on the glass to earn second chance points and trips to the foul line. That’s a tough task, but if he can do it, the Lakers will be in a good position all night.

*The Lakers must turn Thunder miscues into points. OKC is 28th in turnovers committed and 23rd in turnover percentage. If Durant has one flaw in his game it’s that as a playmaker, though improved, he still locks on to his target too often and can have tunnel vision when making a cross court pass off the dribble. The same is true of Westbrook, who can be turnover prone. The Lakers must force force them both into making mistakes with the ball and then go the other way to create easy baskets.

Again, tell me what you think is going to happen in this game and the opposite is just as likely to happen. The Thunder are a fantastic team but the Lakers, even without Pau and Nash, have a capable crew themselves. It will take a lot of things to go right to win, but that’s true almost every other night too. Let’s see if they can end this 3 game roadie on a hight note.

Where you can watch: 6:30pm start on ESPN and TWC Sportsnet. Also listen live on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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98 responses to Preview and Chat: The Oklahoma City Thunder

  1. darius: it’s friday pm and getting ready to kick it once more for the blue and gold.

    Go Lakers

  2. Will Pau play? Any info about this?

  3. Too late to get a “This one’s for Warren!” in?

  4. According to Kobe, they all went to movies and saw “Lincoln”, some of our players were surprised of the ending.

    We have a problem with our new crop of players who immediately jumped to NBA who are not even attuned to common knowledge in American history, a grade school level of education would know this portion of history by heart.

  5. Kobe Alert: KB has/will be very busy. Last game, he of course moved by 30k points and he took his 9 thousandth free throw attempt. He needs just 2 more games played, to catch both Patrick Ewing and Terry Cummings, to move into a tie for 30th. Wow – Cummings lasted longer than I would have remembered. He needs just 6 dimes to catch Mike Bibby for 39th (another distant old rival). He needs 2 three pointers to catch Tim Hardaway for 15th place and is only 6 behind Eddie Jones (Eddie is my favorite ringless Laker). Finally – Slappy mentioned John H of the Celtics in response to my last alert. For you youngsters, Hondo played back, mostly in the peach basket era. Kobe needs only 48 field goals to catch him for 9th in that category. Now, it was pointed out that KB would eventually catch him in missed field goals as well. This is true, but when factoring in the fact that Hondo played (and therefore most Celtic championships were) in an era where you had to get a ladder out to remove the ball from the basket, followed by a jump ball at mid court : ) Hondo’s shooting and missing propensity far outweigh KB’s.

  6. The change in OKC is the hunger that losing a NBA Finals gives players the following season. LA had the eye of the tiger after losing to Boston in the Finals , Miami turned the corner last year after watching Dallas put shackles on their feet. Players get a small sample and their thirst is unquenchable, to believe they came that close to only lose by one play here or there helped make Durant and Westbrook only more dangerous. The only thing that could stop this Thunder team from being penciled in the WCF, is injury. Their team has stayed relatively healthy the last couple of years, if everything remains the same they will definitely be a tough out. Hopefully tonight LA can match there intensity, and come away with a victory.

  7. Tonight is a night where moral victories are acceptable. Undermanned versus the best team in the league who’s on a tear. If Lakers are in this with a few mins to go that’s a win if it goes down to the final shot that’s the ultimate victory. A blowout loss will only demoralize this team more amid all the problems that are ongoing. Sad to say as a die hard Lakers fan I fully expect to lose because even the best game this current roster can play won’t be enough to beat Okc. Knicks gave us reason for optomism yesterday but we don’t have the knicks chemistry and Okc doesn’t have Miami’s problems. I just hope this game isn’t over by halftime.

  8. I know this is kind of crazy, but I’d like to see a little Darius Morris on Westbrook. As lost as DM had looked on offense much of the season, I think he’s shown huge improvement as an on-ball defender. I know Kobe usually plays his best D when hes guarding ‘the man’ (RW, Wade), but it’s hard for me to imagine Russ not eating him and Diuhon for dinner. I may be doubly nuts, but I think this game will be close. Can’t wait to watch a rejuvenated MWP battling with the brilliant Durant. Go lakers!

  9. Lakeshow! Let’s do this!! So pumped.

  10. @lil pau – not crazy at all – that should be Morris role rest of season, as a high energy defensive minded guard (he’s not ready to run offense yet) so if mike d can throw him out there for stretches to harass, tire, and make guards like westbrook work for a couple stretches each game, that’s great.

  11. Nice drive by Morris even though he missed the layup. It allowed Dwight to get the offensive rebound and dunk.

    Two LA players Morris and Westbrook playing against each other.

    Dwight’s freethrows look good so far.

  12. Killer shot by Westbrook.

  13. Westbrooks guns are f’ing annoying – bloody first q. Lakers are making a go of it – need to keep pace up and keep getting contribs from everyone.

  14. LA matching OKC effort in the first quarter. Howard looks like he is locked in tonight, offense needs to work off of him when he is on like this.

  15. Decent 1st for the Lakers – Westbrook, who is a terrible 3 point shooter, is knocking down 3’s well above his average, that won’t last.

    Hopefully he continues to take them.

  16. LUCKY shot by Westbrook. He’s not an elite 3-point shooter. He’s got a hot hand right now.

  17. I agree with Van Gundy…what is with this lineup.

  18. JVG sounds like he’s talking out of a hole in his throat for a cigarette commercial

  19. Five bench players holding OKC + Durant even? I’ll take it.

  20. Since Gasol’s out, either Kobe or Dwight has to play with the second unit. Too many scrubs on the floor.

  21. So far we’re playing with so much heart. I love it; hope it continues.

  22. What is the actual timetable on Nash?

  23. There is none JP – its not structural healing, strictly nerve sensitivty/pain so there is no way to tell how long. As soon as he can jog w/o pain he can pretty much be cleared to play – but no way to predict it

  24. Horrible “foul” call on Jamison.

  25. Lakers need to step up to westbrooks drives – at least keep him from having a straight line to hoop

  26. Jamison was in perfect set position, while Westbrook initiated contact 100%. Remnants of the patented Harden-call remain in OKC. What the heck.

  27. Lakers are getting blown out on terrible transition, pick and roll and weak side D.

    Basically if there is a type of ‘D’, the Lakers are executing it poorly.

  28. Kobe with the block leads to a slam dunk by Howard.

  29. Westbrook torching us right now, our guards not exactly keeping the Thunder honest.

    26 fastbreak points, OUCH!

  30. So…has D’Antoni figured out that you can’t guard Westbrook with Duhan and Morris yet? No. Ah well, I’m sure he will figure it out sooner or later. If only there was some recorded history of how the Lakers have done it successfully in the past….some sort of ‘video tape’ if you would.

  31. Joe: I do not understand that either (lack of D). rr and others tell me we just are not that good defensively, but I do not see that. We have a def player of the year, MWP, and KB. That should be enough – but it is not. Again – sum is less than parts.

  32. Kobe has to score 40 if the lakes want to win. So far Morris has outplayed duhon. Duhon looks like the rookie tonight.

    And the officiating is awful once again

  33. Kobe complains every questionavle call, then refuses to run back. Cut it out!

  34. You know what… if Westbrook is just not gonna miss, just tip your cap and move on. See you guys Sunday.

  35. Kobe is just too much – why can’t others put in that type of effort

  36. What a brutal ‘foul’ call on Duhon, Westbrook with a brutally obvious flop. Like OKC needs this type of help.

    Where is Kobe’s foul call on his last bucket, he got even more contact.

  37. Robert,

    MWP is 33, Jamison is 36, Duhon is 32 and Kobe is 34. That is four of your five starters and Jamison has been a poor defensive player his entire career.

    Also, Kobe isn’t shooting much and the Lakers are getting worked–because they can’t play good D and the other team is better than they are. Basketball is not, in some ways, all that complicated.

  38. Westbrook….

  39. We have to do something different in the 2nd half with Westbrook, he’s absolutely torching Duhon & Morris.

    We’ve played quite well, minus the D on Westbrook.. This game doesn’t feel like a blowout at all, just need to keep Westbrook under wraps. Which is easier said than done.

    While I agree with what JVG said on ESPN with Nash not really helping on the defensive end, he certainly helps with the turnovers and silly passes we seem to throw every single game though. Good offense = better defense. OKC had a bunch of fastbreak points in that half alone.

  40. Referees have always been bad against Lakers. This is gonna be a loss so lets just hope the game is close and not a complete blowout.

  41. This current team doesn’t have the firepower for okc. Lakers getting killed in transition just like last year. Have to get players to match up with okc. Twin towers won’t get it done.

  42. My guess is Kobe will be on Westbrook at some point in the second half… He wouldn’t be able to sustain 40 minutes against a guy that is faster than him. But seriously, Westbrook picked a great day to be shooting lights out. Like many others, he always seems to save his best game for us.

  43. Magic Johnson is starting to get on my nerves. The dude needs to STFUP.

  44. Hopefully, the pattern against this team from last season doesn’t hold true – where it seems as if they dominated us in the 3rd quarter of every reg season game – or else we’ll be down by damn near 30 headed to the 4th.

    If ‘Wild Wild Wes’ is going to continue treating our guards like high school defenders, there’s nothing that you can do but salute him.

  45. Lakers would be easily winning this game, but for two things:

    1. They don’t even try to disguise their contempt for pick and roll D, at least 4 times in the 1st half the ‘roll’ guy was left to walk right to the rim for an open layup. Heck on one play it was Collison who is slow as #@$@#$, it was like watching a replay in slow motion and they still let him walk in.

    2. Westbrook’s hot shooting combined with a boneheaded coach that pretends like he doesn’t know that Westbrook needs to be guarded by someone who plays good D and has length. To be fair, some of this is just the convergence of luck and skill, no way Westbrook shoots this way 4 out of 7 games in a series even with this D. That being said, we are making it easy on him.

  46. Simmons-Magic / Boston-Lakers tension every segment.

  47. “We’ve played quite well, minus the D Westbrook”

    As the man said above, he hits those 3s and there’s not much you can do. The larger problem is 26 fast break points over the half. JVG said it best, once again the TO, and even if that was corrected, there’s the other problem of poor floor balance. And as he added, compounding the floor balance problem is that it’s that much harder for the 2 to guard the 3 when they’re slower. And I’m not ragging on Kobe, but that problem becomes he acute when he penetrates inside and no basket is made, i.e., you have him under the rim, Dwight and Hill looking to rebound, and so only Ron and Duhon/Morris are back (and sometimes Ron isn’t).

  48. This seems like a match up that the Lakers currently cannot win. Even if we had Pau and Nash- I’m just not sure that we can beat the Thunder. Ibaka can guard Pau and Perkins can at least hold his own versus Howard. (not stop him, but “contain” him.) Westbrook will torch Nash just like he’s torching the other 2 PGs. Durant isn’t bothered by MwP like he once was. So, Kobe is still the only huge advantage that this team has versus the Thunder?

    So, what’s the answer guys? Robert, rr, Jerke, Aaron, KO- anyone?

  49. OKC is just a good team. good challenge esp without Nash/Pau.

  50. Oh and Westbrook really needs to embrace how good he is and stop with the amateurish gun holstering b.s. and preening. It’s like watching Lebron in his first year in Miami when they started to roll. Since he cut that garbage out he is way more watchable.

    College ended a long time ago.

  51. Looks like the refs are trying to even out the game in the 2nd half with all these calls.

  52. right now westbrook is ballin, who will guard him if we have a complete lineup? nash?kobe?metta,

  53. It’s no fun being on the opposite side of a dominant team and your not especially when your used to being one.

  54. Ken

    Only answer is trades. They have to get younger and athletic. This is clearly the wrong coach for this team. Jamison, all point guards, Pau, Kobe and even Metta can not guard any young players any more. Like I have said all year this is a 5 or 6 seed. Not in same league with OKC, Griz, Clips and Spurs..

    Things change and we can’t expect to be a top team every year.

  55. its KD/RW again for the Thunder.its a two man game,,,its closing minutes of the third..its not fun to watch because Lakers are trailing this ball game.

  56. Joe,

    Kobe was never the problem. People who blames Kobe for our atrocious start are just haters.

  57. This team has no idea on offense. It’s now Kobe aganist the world. Bad defense and by the way Howard has very few offensive moves. How long has he been in the league?

  58. I find it dumb founding how Dwight Howard cannot dominate Hasheem Thabeet. He should be having a field day right now against a raw Thabeet.

  59. Wow, seriously again with the premature trade talk?! Look at the facts tonight. Westbrook and Durant traded hot hands at halftime. DWIGHT ISN’T POSTING UP. We are without a point guard who has excellent offensive talent. But most importantly — we are shooting pretty badly, and our defense is leaving some to be desired. We can’t expect to win shooting 30something percent while allowing 50something percent shooting by the opposition. It isn’t rocket science. We knew this was going to be an incredibly tough matchup and if we didn’t bring our best, this wouldn’t be a close game. We have shown we are capable of playing good defense even against way younger, way faster teams. We don’t need trades; we just need to get it together.

    In other news, Kobe just hit a Westbrook-style 3 but ACTUALLY got fouled. Mamba playing a siiiiick game tonight.

  60. People ragging on Howard should reserve judgement. Let’s not forget he wasn’t even expected to start the season and there were reports that he could have been out until about now. Guy is still not 100% and when he is he will be better. That being said, he has always been at his best when he can play pick and roll with a very good pick and roll guard. When Nash is back I think you will see some very dominant games by Dwight.

    I have been critical of him in the early going myself, but the reality is we are not getting the whole package yet.

  61. KenOak: We went “all in” with this roster. We can’t change course now. We are “pot committed”. Every game that goes by it appears as though we are a serious underdog to come out ahead. So we need some serious breaks on the “turn and the river”. As you know I was hoping for a different “dealer”, but instead we got Mike D’Antoni. This roster can’t continue to under-acheive like this. We are not this bad. We all have are theories. Mine is that Brown fell on his face, and D’Antoni came in limping (literally).

  62. Oh, and no one is taking Pau’s 19 million dollar contract and giving us back good players in return, so even if the Lakers were prepared to trade him (questionable given the reported commitment they gave Nash), there is no trade to be made.

    I also want to see Pau play pick and roll with Nash when both are healthy.

  63. @kenoak – reality is everyone is gonna get torched by Westbrook – when he’s dropping pull up 3’s etc… sometimes you have to just tip your hat. My big issues tonight are on the lack stopping the dribbler. repeatedly westbrook was able to get to the free throw line un impeded – then poor rotations and one screen from Perkins basically allowed him to get to the rim over and over. That and whoever was checking kmart in first half repeatedly fell for fakes and flew past or got too close repeatedly on closeouts instead of just staying down. The threes i can live with – you have to give up something with this team and I’d rather pack the paint and stop the drives.

    As for Nash, yes westbrook etc… Nash won’t be able to stay with them – but the one positive is that Nash demands 100 percent of their attention on offense and they won’t be able to sag and play lazy themselves. There were several sequences where Duhon and morris were repeatedly left alone for wide open looks and were able to pack in or lay off on Dwight, kobe etc… Also there were good stretches where the Lakers got several stops in a row but couldnt’ convert – again someplace where Nash could help.

    As for the complaining that Mike D is an idiot and doesn’t know what he’s doing by not putting someone who has length and speed and smarts on Westbrook – I’d like that person to suggest who D”antoni has on his roster that would fit that description.

  64. Ko, keep the faith. It’s not that bad. That said, get some stops and make this a game!!!!!!

  65. New term: Van Gundy Block = When a player is actually fouled, but you mistakingly think it was a clean block and then dogmatically stick to your guns even when proven wrong by video.

  66. What in the world is D’Antoni doing, he has put in Meeks to play p/g? Has he actually watched Meeks dribble? Sweet jesus.

  67. Lakers perimeter defense has to be worst in league. That should be priority #1 at the deadline. Lakers have a long way to go before they reach okc level. Agree with ko only way they get better is through trades.

  68. Worst…foul…call…ever….terrible.

  69. @joe – lol.

  70. Ugh, Collison makes me sick. Back-to-back possessions where he fell down without a touch from anyone in a purple/gold jersey. He’s a bigger flop than Humphries, a royal PoS.

  71. Joe-
    Thanks for making this game bearable with your comedic relief.

  72. I’ll say this, Scott Brooks still fears the Lakers. He is wearing the treads off Westbrook and Durant in a game his team has lead by double digits since the 2nd Q.

    Interestingly, Dwight seems to be having an easier time against Perkins than Collison (who was mugging him betting correctly that the refs would only call it once every 4-5 times) or Ibaka (who is just really active). Perkins used to be Dwight kryptonite, but Perkins hasn’t been healthy in over a year now.

  73. Joeatlanta: your constantly attacking me. How do you think playets have got in the lane? Okc isn’t posting so they must be blowing by guys.

  74. Rt

    They are 8 and 10 now in 9th place. How long are people going to continue to make excuses. What will be next they are playing poor because Metta hurt his hand on a turntable?

    Come on, old, slow teams can’t win in the NBA anymore.

  75. Robert,

    IMO you are putting too much on MDA and not enough on the roster. Once more: the guys the Lakers have 5-10 might be OK if they had the 1-4 they envisioned; as it is, those players are overexposed. Look at the last three games; that tells where the Lakers are. Jerke has it right. You are letting your anger about Phil get the best of you, buddy.

    Kobe being All-D is just a reputation thing; he is not anywhere near that level anymore. Neither is MWP.

    As to what to do:

    1. Work out Delonte West and look at back-end and DLeague PGs.
    2. Try to pick up an athletic wing from the DLeague who can play 10-12 MPG and move his feet on D. Guys like that are around.
    3. Pray Nash comes back soon and is near 100%.
    4. Pray the rest helps Pau.

  76. Ibaka needs to check himself, MWP would lay him out easily.

    This is funnier than when Perkins tried to stand up to Z-Bo.

  77. Metta at it again. I think the team is pretty alive now. Just 10 point deficit now under 3 minute

  78. Metta fights a lot better then shoots. Last 5 games about 25%.

  79. and now the refs have decided to call any contact on Durant a foul…again, OKC doesn’t need this type of help.

    lol at D’Antoni telling Kobe not to bother talking to the refs as in his mind what they are saying makes no sense anyway.

  80. Without the freebies the refs gave Durant the Lakers would have a shot here.

  81. Our young guys showing heart. What I noticed in this game is Meeks, Hill and Ebanks close out on defense faster than our oldies but goodies. I’m starting to think we do need to get younger, fast. Nash is, we’ll, the opposite of young.

  82. Well the game was closer than I thought. And Kobe, Westbrook and Durant are great scorers.

  83. Have to give the team credit for battling back to within 6 points. Lakers might go 3-4 over the next 7 games. If this team is better than .500 at the halfway mark, I will be surprised. I still have hope.

  84. So I guess we all need to give Mike Brown an apology huh?

  85. Inconsistencies abound – flashes of really good stuff at times – but not enough stretches with both the off and def in sync.

  86. Attaboy Lakers, you put up a good fight tonight, OKC are just too good and explosive in this game. The weakest link among the Lakers is Ebanks made some bricks and TO’s when he was in. Duhon is improving in every game I think he would be better than Blake by January.

  87. rr: I said we are pot committed and need to stay with what we have. Since two of your 4 points involve praying and 1 involves a D-League guy – I think you are saying the same : ) With regard to MD: He is better than MB – but not by much. So far this is a NY re-run. Besides – I am an optimist. In my world – we just need to fix the coaching. In your world – 18 things need to happen and then we have an OK chance. I like my world better : )

  88. This is why you need to win the games you can win! Especially when you’re in survival mode due to injuries. The Lakers really had no chance in this game with Pau and Nash out. Even a healthy Lakers squad might not have the defensive ability to contain the Thunder.

    But they put a good fight which would have won games against Orlando and Houston. Maybe the Lakers don’t realize that every win counts the same towards their record. Pops probably would have coached wins over those teams then sat his starters tonight during the entire second half to draw the big fine from Stern.

  89. Good effort late. Meeks impressed. Maybe the team found a lineup to play in spots against OKC later on (Howard, MWP, Kobe, Meeks, Duhon)(would allow Nash and Pau to sub out and play some together on the 2nd unit). Oh, and Kobe, if you read FB&G, this is why FT matter. 80%. Kept the team in the game. And contra to the one soul, was not the 2nd half but that 2nd quarter that killed them. They were down 19 with 7:31 to play. Got it down to 4 before those last 2 OKC FT.

  90. @Joe Atlanta

    I don’t even know why I’m giving you any more of an exposure by quoting you with this, but it here goes. D12 played extremely well, I don’t know how you can pinpoint him during that 2nd Q. Westbrook just went nuts, move on.

    In anycase a loss is a loss, with this team we need all the wins we can get during these testing times. Having said that, I thought we played well in this game.

    We were playing an OKC team full of confidence whom all play as a team. D is still something that will have to be worked on throughout the season. i.e. getting accustomed to playing with D12.

    Kobe was Kobe, D12 was good and Meeks did some good things. Quite evident though is the TO’s and lack of a 2nd playmaker on this team (while Nash is injured). One more point I’d like to make is players constantly looking for Kobe during the 4th Q, we become a predictable team when everyone on the floor knows what’s going to happen.

    Hopefully Nash fixes that when he returns, 2 of the best playmakers during the end of games.

  91. Even with Nash and Gasol back, we are not beating this team, plain and simple. Either we make moves later on or the season is over.

  92. So I guess we all need to give Mike Brown an apology huh?

    Nah. He buried Meeks and the D isn’t any worse; it just looks worse because of the pace.

    That said, playing Howard and Kobe 84 minutes in a game that was gone was very Brownian (although Phil would pull the same stuff as well).

  93. Meeks proving himself lately, looked wonderful at the close of this game. Glad to see we still have some fight left in us even while down 19 in the 4th.

    @ko — How easy is it, in your opinion, to play at a championship level when you are still trying to figure out team chemistry among yet another brand new coach and brand new players (3 of whom are currently not in the rotation due to injuries)? No one is making excuses. It’s just impractical to think that we would be breezing through the regular season without problem. In fact, we all expected that it would take us a while to get acclimated, and this was assuming that we would start the year with a fully healthy roster. I agree that at times we LOOK old and slow, especially when there is a diffuse lack of effort; but I also think that we have shown that we can keep up quite well with the youngest and fastest of the NBA (take 4th quarter tonight for instance) when we really try. Right now, our assessment of how well this team is doing can’t just be about the W/L numbers. Important point is that we need to be ever-progressing, which we are. Earlier in the season, I guarantee we would have lost by 30+ against OKC. Bench is instilling confidence, Nash will provide both offensive firepower and hopefully a reigning in on turnovers we are committing d/t poor ball-handling, Kobe-Dwight panning out increasingly well each game. As of right now, trading will not be the answer to our problems; too quick-trigger. I will reserve judgment on that issue until everyone is healthy and the team can play a set offensive rotation thereafter.

  94. Last year was pitiful, but how have we gone backwards? KB is playing better than last year; DH is better than AB, MWP is about the same, Our PG’s can’t be worse than last year can they be? – (be careful how you answer or Robert might remind everyone about who said what after DF was dumped). So OK Pau is worse – but not much – because he was bad last year. Our bench was horrible last year – so that can’t be any worse can it be? So what can it be? Oh yea. You see my rants are actually very logical. I have deduced it is MD by process of elimination.

  95. Can’t be too upset regarding this loss. Nobody, in their right frame of mind, could’ve expected us to come out victorious against, arguably, the best team in the A without Nash and Pau. Would really like to see how we’d match-up with them @ full strength.

    Dwight is getting there. Some nice moves – reverse sweeping lay in with the left and the sweet footwork before hitting a right handed jump hook off the glass were stand outs to me – displayed on the offensive end of the floor. Meeks also is showing that he can be relied upon to be a double digit scorer off the bench.

    Much respect to KD, who has steadily improved an aspect of his game each year that he’s been in the league.

  96. i don’t think Mitch or Mike D are fretting too much about this lost. As Van gundy poiinted out rightly and fairly in the telecast – anyone coming to OKC with two of their top 4 players isn’t going to win. Lakers aren’t even going to give this game a second thought – Mike D will go over a couple notes from this game and they’ll move onton the next one. As said above – as bad as this game was at times, the effort and play tonight wouldv’e won games in Houston, Sac etc…

  97. I think the tale of the tape is the Lakers fought when they could’ve collapsed, won the first quarter, then enabled OKC to get in transition from the last minute of the 1st into the second. That got the Thunder easy fast break buckets, the crowd into the game and Westbrook in rhythm.

    They tied the third and won the fourth. Also, 11 of the 17 turnovers were by Kobe and Howard. A good chunk of that gets cleaned up if/when a healthy Nash returns. Clean up the turnovers, and you take away a lot of the fast break.

    I, personally, am encouraged by the coherency of this game. Howard even hit his free throws.

  98. I have absolutely zero problems with this loss. A moral victory if there ever was one. The team played very hard and there were some awful calls. Especially at the end when we really could have had an interesting game had the officials not screwed it up. Great energy, the team didn’t give up.

    This was the OKC team. The Lakers were without 2 key components and whether Pau is with the team or ends up in a trade we were without the “capital” that he represents. OKC is a team that almost always goes cold at some stage. In a 7 game series the Lakers will be ready to take advantage.

    A much easier loss to take than many these days. This stretch where we don’t know what we have (without Nash) is rough, but it will make this team better if they continue to play like they did tonight.

    I’m encouraged.

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