After a defensive battle in Game 1, there was little doubt that Game 2 would feature more of the same. The Thunder were destined to shoot better in this rematch and Durantula cannot be held down forever. This team hustles and you can see it in every play.
The Lakers opened up with the same intensity we saw in Game 1. The defense on display was some of the best all season and everyone was crisp on their rotations and closeouts. Unfortunately, the Lakers offense wasn’t able to pull away and put any points on the board. The 26 – 18 score was deceptive, as the Lakers seemed to miss shots, or have their shots blocked on almost every trip. On the flipside, it was nice to see an aggressive Kobe MAKING some shots. I think he went 4-9 in the first quarter and his jumper looked nice.
I have no idea why we seem to fall in love with the outside jumper, specifically Derek Fisher. I cannot believe that this team refuses to “rinse & repeat” on offense, and run the ball through the post until someone stops them. These horrible outside jumpers and missed 3’s led to Thunder fast breaks, dunks, free throws – you name it. The frustration on the face on Kobe was obvious. He was giving everyone daggers and actually threw a semi punch on a loose ball where he thought he was fouled. It was also a testy quarter, as the teams seemed to see how far they could push the officiating before getting calls. The fast breaks pushed the Thunder into halftime with a 2-point lead and Durant was on fire, let’s see how the Lakers would respond in their first test of the 2010 playoffs.
Kobe came out with the Black Mamba mode (see headline image above) in full effect and really took it to whoever was on him. This was the first time I’ve seen him elevating and hitting DEEP threes consistently. This opened things up inside a little, but as mentioned above, the Thunder held a block party. They collected 17 blocks in total and I can’t remember the last time a team was able to pile up that many against the Lakers. That is a ridiculous number of blocks, and Kevin Durant/Ibaka were the main culprits. These guys were swatting shots left and right, and it was downright embarrassing. After a back and forth struggle, the team was able to ride some defensive stops and missed Thunder shots to take a 4 point lead into the fourth.
Side note: Jordan Farmar makes some ignorant plays. He fouled Maynor with 0.7 seconds on the clock and I wish there was a screenshot of Phil’s face. He was pissed.
The aggressiveness of the Thunder carried them throughout this game, and their defense and shot blocking was some of the best I’ve seen versus this Lakers unit all season. At times, I thought Durant took some forced/bad shots, and I also thought Westbrook was settling for jumpers. Despite all this, the fourth belonged to Kobe Bryant. His jump shot was on and he was getting to the line – something that was missing in the first half. In the end, the Lakers got the stops they needed, specifically the game winning attempt from Durant where Artest did a great job fighting through screens to contest the shot. After the game was over, you could see the entire OKC team was dejected and crushed; they felt like they should have won that game. Do I blame them? Not really. The Thunder’s defense of the paint was impressive and I only hope that someone edits all the blocks together into a youtube video.
Game 3 is Thursday and Kobe played 41 minutes. I hope he has as much lift as he did tonight; he’s going to need it against the Thunder who are starving for their first playoff victory.