The Lakers played their second consecutive game on the road and a late run killed their chances as the Thunder beat them, 113-96.
Oklahoma City went on a 13-0 run after the Lakers, who played from behind for the most part, cut it to a 95-91 deficit with 4:30 left. Russell Westbrook scored seven points on that decisive run; he continued his Destruction Tour to the tune of 33 points, 12 rebounds, and 16 assists. But where the Thunder won the game was in transition and in the paint. OKC scored 62 points inside the key (44 for the Lakers) and that’s how they built the lead in the first place. And the Thunder in transition couldn’t be stopped (26 fastbreak points compared to 9 for the Lakers). The game was sloppy at times; Lakers had 22 giveaways compared to the Thunder’s 20.
I applaud the Lakers’ effort on defense but, once again, the fundamentals weren’t there, which contributed to the big deficit. There were times when the Lakers were leaving a shooter open with a hard, unnecessary double team. There were also times where they gave too much space to the designated shooters. Maybe some of it was by design because OKC isn’t exactly full of great shooters (they went 9 for 26, .346 overall) but I wouldn’t leave an NBA player that’s capable of shooting a three any sort of breathing room.
The Lakers missed some bunnies early and while there was a time where they were able to make some threes, they weren’t great overall in that department (which, once again, contributed to OKC’s big lead; they went 7 for 32, .219). They only shot .402 from the field. Some of the Lakers’ turnovers were also silly. They threw four lobs that went into the hands of the Thunder. Lob City they are not; the Lakers aren’t even Lob Street.
Even with all of those mistakes, there were still some encouraging things to see. I liked Julius Randle’s aggression early (ended with 20 points). Nick Young’s (16 points) defensive effort can’t be ignored, even if his shooting was up and down. Jordan Clarkson (14 points) bounced back nicely. And D’Angelo Russell (20-5-5) is unshakable. They were able to cut the deficit to four twice before they were overwhelmed by those Thunder runs. Also, hi, Jose Calderon. Welcome to the NBA season.
Of course, you want to see continued improvement from this young team. Hopefully, they can shoot better in the next few games. I would love to see the Lakers box out better. I would love to see them continue to fix and improve that pick-and-roll defense. I would love to see them take care of the ball better. And no erratic lobs, of course. Still, Brandon Ingram throwing a lob to Metta World Peace for, I guess for a dunk, is high comedy. (On a positive note, I’m glad Ingram is okay.)
The Lakers are now 1-2. They go to Indiana next and they play on Tuesday. Paul George, Myles Turner, and company await the young team. Maybe they’ll fare better this time.
In the meantime, go get some wings and enjoy some Sunday Night Football.