Sometimes, it’s better to just post a highlight and celebrate a win.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 23, 2016
To recap the play above, the Lakers, down one, ran their weave action to set up a play that was designed for Lou Williams. Nick Young, though, worked his way back to the ball, stepped in front of the pass to Lou, stole it, then fired a fading 25 footer that he drilled. Yes, that happened.
The Lakers probably shouldn’t have needed that shot in the first place, honestly. They pretty much controlled the entire game, leading by double digits (or close to it) for much of the evening and finding ways to hold off the Thunder. Then, in the 4th quarter, just as Nick Young’s shot happened, Russell Westbrook happened.
The OKC guard had paced himself pretty much all night in the face of solid Lakers’ defense. Russ didn’t force too many shots, but also didn’t shoot well and instead did a lot of damage as a set up man. He tallied 8 assists in the 1st half and came out in the 3rd quarter looking to assist his teammates. In the 4th, though, he started to see the ball go through the hoop and it was on.
At one point Westbrook scored 12 straight points and 15 of 17 — with the one basket he did not score a dunk by Steven Adams that he assisted on. Then, with OKC down one with under 20 seconds left, Westbrook missed a jumper off a P&R only to have Adams crash down the lane and get the offensive rebound and putback to put the Thunder up by a single digit. Young’s shot erased all that effort, though.
This was a game the Lakers really did want badly, so it was good to see them battle hard and pull it out. They play the Warriors in a home-and-home on Wednesday and Friday, so getting back above .500 — especially after losing a couple of winnable games — is a nice reprieve. Nothing is coming easy for these Lakers, but they continue to fight and Tuesday saw them be more locked in on both sides of the ball than they have been in recent contests. That they could turn that effort into a W is a nice reward and hopefully puts them back on track.
Now, onto some notes:
- Six Lakers in double figures and two more with 8 points. As it has been all season, it was a team effort offensively with several players pulling their weight. This was especially important with D’Angelo Russell out.
- Speaking of Russell, props to Jose Calderon for filling in admirably. The veteran PG hit four 3-pointers and mostly did a good job of organizing the offense. Early in the game he had some issues dealing with the Thunder’s aggressive ball pressure, but he settled in nicely as the game went on — especially after he started to work more off the ball and look for his shot.
- Brandon Ingram had a good night. Not only did he have the assist on the game winner, he hit 4 of his 6 shots including going 3-3 from behind the arc. He was also solid on defense and was a key ball mover in the 2nd half. I continue to be impressed with his poise and how he does not get too up or down regardless of how he’s playing.
- Julius Randle played through a hip pointer, but was not himself. After the game he said that his hip bothered him during the game and that he felt it impacted his explosiveness and that it made it hard for him to play through contact. He did not sound sure he could play Wednesday.
- Another good game for Mozgov who shot 6-10 from the field and scored 16 points, He ran the floor well, was active in the paint on both ends, and was aggressive when trying to finish at the rim.
- Very nice bounce back game for Jordan Clarkson. After going 1-12 against the Bulls on Sunday, Clarkson scored a team high 18 points on 7-14 shooting vs. the Thunder. There were times he over dribbled and I would have liked to see him work less in isolation in general, but when he’s hitting shots and being aggressive those are things you can live with.
- Rough night on turnovers for the Lakers with 17. Luckily for them, several of those were of the dead ball variety and did not directly lead to easy baskets for OKC who only turned those miscues into 19 points. The damage could have been much worse on that front.
- The Lakers hit 14 of their 27 three pointers. That seems good.
- One last word on Russell Westbrook — I thought he settled for a tough 3-pointer at the end when a two pointer would have tied. And, after the game, I saw him taking some heat from folks on twitter lamenting him taking such a tough shot to try and win it. Honestly, though, OKC is nowhere near being in that game without his earlier heroics. I know he “only” shot 13-30, but he scored 34 points, dished 13 assists, and had 8 rebounds. He was a monster down the stretch willed his team all the way back to take a one point lead with under 10 seconds left. Yes, he could have played better in spots. But it seems crazy to focus on those spots considering all he did for his team in this one.