Lakers Fall to Thunder Behind 35 From Kobe Bryant; 114-108

Lakers Fall to Thunder Behind 35 From Kobe Bryant; 114-108


The Los Angeles Lakers played one of the biggest games of their season tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a rematch of last year’s second-round playoff matchup. The Lakers played their final game of a three-game road trip and they needed to end the trip on a high note against one of the best teams in the league.

In the Lakers’ previous game, they routed the New Orleans Hornets and were hoping to use that momentum to trump the Thunder.

First Quarter

There was a lot of hype heading into tonight’s game and the Lakers needed to win in order to prove to themselves that they can compete the elite teams in the league. The crowd was excited to get the game underway and for the first time since the Western Conference Semi-Finals, the Lakers played in Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The Lakers began the game with a ton of energy and their offense was running quite well, but the team had trouble guarding the Thunder. Oklahoma City knocked down three three-point shots to begin the game and the team was feeding off the crowd’s energy. Even though the Thunder were making an effort to run the fast-break, the Lakers did a good job weathering the storm.

Los Angeles was able to knock down perimeter shots and Antawn Jamison continued to play well for the team. He was performing well on both ends of the court and his early seven points allowed Kobe Bryant to save his energy in the opening period. At the 5:50 mark of the quarter, the Lakers held a 15-13 lead after a 6-0 run.

The Lakers played a strong 12 minutes and the team controlled the tempo for the majority of the period. However, the Lakers lost their edge towards the end of the quarter as Russell Westbrook hit a three at the buzzer. The Lakers headed to the bench with a slim 27-26 lead and Dwight Howard led the team with eight points.

Second Quarter

The Lakers had their second unit on the floor to begin the period and for the most part they performed quite well. Los Angeles has not had great performances from the reserves this season, but in tonight’s game, the substitutes did a great job. Jodie Meeks slowly began to build trust in his game, and the Lakers relied on him to knock down perimeter jumpers. At the 8:30 mark of the period, the Lakers held a slight 37-35 advantage.

However, the Lakers lost their momentum as Kevin Durant sparked a run for the Thunder. Oklahoma City inserted the starters into the game and the Lakers responded by putting Bryant and Howard back on the court. Los Angeles’ transition defense began to deteriorate and the Thunder took advantage of their speed and athleticism. At the 5:48 mark of the period, the Lakers were facing a 45-40 deficit.

Turnovers began to be a big problem for the Lakers and the Thunder were in complete control of the game. Oklahoma City made a living off running in the fast-break and they constantly attacked the basket with little resistance. The offense was very stagnant and the Lakers had trouble getting any ball movement.

At the end of two quarters the Lakers faced a 15-point deficit after an explosive second quarter by the Thunder. Westbrook led the way with 27 points and Oklahoma City hit a total of eight three-pointers. As for the Lakers, Bryant led the team in scoring with 15 points, but they committed eight turnovers which hurt them dearly.

Third Quarter

The Lakers didn’t do much to put a dent into the deficit in the opening minutes of the period and momentum was still on the Thunder’s side. Turnovers continued to be an issue for the Lakers and the Thunder kept on punishing the Lakers in the open-court. Los Angeles was able to make some of it shots, but the team could not do anything to prevent the Thunder from scoring.

At the 8:55 mark of the period, the Thunder were up 76-59. The Lakers did gain some momentum as the quarter progressed and Chris Duhon did a nice job knocking down his perimeter jumpers. Los Angeles needed to jumpstart its offense and Duhon provided a small spurt. However, all the euphoria came coming down and the Lakers could not get the deficit down to single digits. There was nothing the Lakers could do to stop the Thunder from the onslaught and it seemed like everything that could go wrong, went wrong.

Kobe Bryant continued to score for the Lakers and just like every other game, it felt like he was the only player that kept faith. The offense was going through Bryant and the other players just stood and allowed him to dominate. Heading into the final period, the Lakers were down 89-75 and nothing was going their way

Fourth Quarter

The outcome of the game was essentially decided before the quarter started and the coaching staff chose to insert the second unit looking for perhaps a spark. The reserves did play with some great energy but they still could not do enough to bring the Lakers back to a reasonable position. With 9:20 left in the game, the Thunder were leading 94-79 and time was quickly running out for the Lakers.

The Lakers did managed to put together a meaningful run as the quarter progressed as the cut the deficit down to 11. Los Angeles was stringing together successful possessions and players besides Bryant were finally beginning to give him some support. With 3:50 left in the game, the Lakers managed to bring the deficit to 11, 104-93.

However, it was too little too late for the Lakers and they could not complete the comeback. Los Angles was beginning to gain some momentum, but with only a few minutes left in the game, there was no way the Lakers could come away with the victory.

Tempers began to flare in the final minutes of the games as Metta World Peace and Serge Ibaka got into a little altercation. The incident could have been worse, but both sides did a great job controlling the issue.

As the final buzzer sounded the Lakers fell to the Thunder and once again failed to win on the road. Los Angeles did manage to get the game down to five points with 20 seconds left, but the Thunder to snuck away with a 114-108 win.

  • Rasheed

    Good Game. At the ending of the game I enjoyed Lakers spirit.
    I had a feeling it will be difficult without nash/pau/blake but never game on my Lakers.
    Duo for Thunder combined more then 60+.
    Stu Lantz used the perfect word: Clinic…it was best shooting clinic in the 1st 1/2 of the game specially by Russell Westbrook.
    Reminded me of how they beat the Lakers in the Western Conference. More addition to bitter memories.

    Bottom line: Lakers could not make shot consistently while Thunder did. Kobe needs help out there.
    Defense was also an issue: to many easy shots.

    Do I think Lakers are better team then Thunder?
    Yes I do, only time will tell.

    • Crystal

      I agree w/ you Dr. Rasheed. They cut the lead to a single digit and 5 at one point after Duhon nailed that 3. I think if they had more time or got more stops, they could’ve possibly won. The Lakers did let OKC get way too many open shots, sometimes just standing around. OKC is very hard to beat when Durant/Westbrook score 30+. I know Kobe was trying to get his team back in it because he was knocking down some serious shots but it scares me that they’re 1-8 when he scores 30+ points. :( I know things will get better, they gave a good effort…it wasn’t a blowout. Lakers forever.

      • Rasheed

        Kobe had to deal with complexity. Fans like me tell Kobe to stop taking too many shots and spread the ball. And he did exactly that but his teammates didn’t utilize the opportunity unfortunately. So, only option for Kobe was to go into the black mamba mode.
        Kobe is phenomenal player.

        One factor:
        Issue is with D12: Lakers need more offense from D12…

        Check this out!
        Shaq solution for Dwight is about minimum 28 point and 10rebounds per game.

        Dwight past history:
        Orlando 18.4 points/13 rebounds

        Dwight current stats: aka Dominant center of NBA. (He should not wait until Kobe leaves Lakers to show his dominance. He has the best group in the history of NBA)
        Lakers 18.5 points/11.2 rebounds

        Solution: Class is in session, Dwight! (by Shaq)
        3 shots/Qtr = 12 shots/game
        If if make 50% = 12 points.

        4 Offensive putbacks = 8points (12+8 =20pts)
        3 dropoffs (from Kobe/Pau/Nash pick n roll) = 6pts (12+8+6=26 pts)
        If he makes 5/10 Free throws = 5 points (12+8+6+5=31 pts)
        Total = 31 points.

        I agree with Shaq and so does Kenneth “The Jet” Smith.

        Offense will work fine.
        Defense: Lakers are just not aggressive. I wonder what they are waiting for. Every game they played good defense Lakers won (Proven fact). However, it is the fatigue factor and consistency to do it over and over.

        Pau Gasol: is not playing the game. Otherwise we would have had long list of people telling Pau is not doing defense, soft. Teammate telling him to puts pants on.
        You take out Pau and look at Lakers. They are not playing good defense with him out of the game. So Pau is not the problem…Defense is the problem.

        I have a optimistic belief that we will soon see an evolution in Mike D’Antoni (human-beings learns from their mistake and then fight back to fix their flaws, it is natural process. Mike D’Antoni is not a quitter. I’ll give him a chance.) He will work on defense more as well. Hopefully, things will come back to normal or better.
        It is too early to judge Lakers rite now.

        In future I see Mike D’Antoni and Nash (combo) trust will spread like a virus within the team. Can’t wait to see that day. Respect is the key for both (Coach and Players).

  • Lakerfreak

    Reality: the Lakers lost by 6 to the best team in the western conference and the Lakers had 3 of their top players out with injuries. When its playoff time the only players that are going to get any time are Nash/Bryant/Peace/Gasol/Howard with Jamison/Blake/Meeks off the bench. And Hill will get I’m depending on the situation. To play as well (won 2 quarters/tied one and got blown out in 2nd) considering what we were missing. The silver lining is glistening. Fans need to realize and remember that we have a third string point guard running around with the starters. Playing a top team like OKC that’s like playing 5 on 4 during some stretches. Although Duhon nailed those open 3s.

    • basketball

      Thats true but okc had a 19 point lead with 7 mintues look at the tape they let of the gas trying to run clock there energy drop way down the last 7 mintues in the playoffs i dont think that will happen plus when you play gasol that keeps ibaka in the paint to help on dwight because gasol doesn’t stretch the floor like jamison to keep ibaka from helping on dwight but why is the knicks beating teams by 20 on the road with out there best 3 players carmelo amre and shumpert they have the best record in the east so all teams can be excited about there chance’s

      • Lakerfreak

        The same argument is true of the thunder getting the lead. Westbrook could never have a fist half like that for the rest of his career and it was the only stretch the lakers took their foot off the petal.

        And difference between NYK and LAL is who is out. It’s out top PG’s. the guys we need to initiate the offense. NY still has Kidd and Felton, plus that other guy whose name I can’t think of. Losing the three they are missing is like us not having Kobe and Metta the scorers. Other players in the NBA can always step up and score points, but initiating the offense and making plays for other teammates. Nobody Is going to step up and be Steve Nash on this team

  • joe23

    MWP or KB should guard westbrook that game. duhon is no defense at all, they should put johnson- odom.

    • Rasheed

      If a player is shooting lights out…obviously Coach has to come up with plan to deactivate the process. Poor coaching at this point but then again who would have guarded him better if they had changed to different player?
      According to (you) and Grant Hughes [Johnson-Odom has a reputation as a “strong, energetic defender.”]
      We are talking about one of the big game of the season Lakers Vs Thunder.
      Normally coaches tend to stick with regular go to guys in such games.

      Now imagine Coach Mike D’Antoni telling Darius Johnson-Odom to guard Russel Westbrook. And Westbrook shooting the lights out. All over NBA, including myself would have been criticizing how dare you play Johnson.

      Bottom line: It is about risk. How much Coach is willing to risk. In this situation Mike D’Antoni didn’t gamble with Johnson-Odom.

      We don’t know what would have happened? But, it wouldn’t been worth trying. After all, it is still a regular season and not playoffs.

      Does the guy sitting on the edge of the bench get a chance? He will but not in big game like Thunders.

  • lostlakertv

    The Lakers lost to the Thunder by only 6 points. Some sports writers are saying that the Lakers took a stomping. I see it this way. The Thunder are basically the same team as last year. The Lakers are rebuilding a new team and played without 2 of their starters. That makes a difference. With the high scoring game Westbrook and Durant had and only won by 6 points. I say Lakers are doing well and will get much better while the Thunder is what you see is what you get.