For the better part of three quarters the Los Angeles Lakers looked like something that resembled a championship caliber team. The Lake Show jumped out quick and brought the Thunder to Oklahoma City’s first ever NBA playoff game. A 10-0 start had Kevin Durant hanging his head in shame as he bricked 8 of his first 9 from the field. If you look close enough, you can see the quit on Durant’s face after Ron Ron picks his pocket early in the contest.
Give the Thunder credit. They could have just rolled over and taken it on the chin. But this young squad has all kinds of fight in it.
The home crowd gave their team a lift and before you know it Russell Westbrook was walking through the Lake Show with ease. Time and time again the Thunder got easy buckets in transition as the Lakers defense fell apart at the seams with Westbrook delivering the signature moment. Safe to say that Lamar Odom will be seen on posters in Oklahoma for years to come.
Durant finally got his game going and the big guy even defended Kobe late in the game. KD’s length gave KB24 trouble on both ends of the floor as Durant took game honors with an MVP line of 29 points and 19 boards. Kobe matched his current jersey number in points and his old jersey number in assists. Of course it took Bryant 29 shots to get his 24. Russell Westbrook, on the other hand, dropped 27 on 21 shots.
That all added up to a bitter 101-96 loss for the Lakers and a hefty helping of momentum served up to the young Thunder.
Nobody expected a sweep in this series but the Lakers were staring the possibility of a 3-0 lead dead in the face. Too bad for Phil Jackson that his squad blinked and when they opened their eyes the series was down to 2-1.
Perhaps the most disturbing trend emerging in this series can be found by looking at the scoreboard.
The Lakers have yet to break a C-note in the series while the Thunder is trending upwards in offensive output. Offense comes and goes but defense must be constant. When a team stops playing defense it is a clear sign that they’ve lost focus.
A year ago the Lakers were road warriors. This season they’ve been road weary. Saturday now becomes a must win, otherwise the Lakers can leave their bags at the hotel in Oklahoma since they’ll be back for game 6 in one week’s time.