The Los Angeles Lakers did everything they could to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 2 except close the contest. Considering how easily the Thunder executed their offense in Game 1 it is nothing short of a minor miracle that the Lake Show held OKC to only 77 points. Yet they still lost.
Most of the hoops world was ready to write off the Lakers as dead in the water having made only one worthwhile showing against the Thunder this season. Then Game 2 rolled around and L.A. played their game on their terms…and still lost.
Mike Brown and his staff get credit for making adjustments in one night that would have otherwise required a week of practice and study to pull off. The Lakers as a whole showed more heart in 48 minutes of ball than they have the entire season with their bounce back performance. Everything the Lakers did was exactly what was required to even this series at 1-1 heading back to Staples.
But the reality is the Thunder is up 2-0 with back-to-back opportunities to close the series.
The Lakers did everything they could to win problem is they didn’t win. If this were the regular season you might tuck this game in your back pocket having gained confidence that the Thunder can be beaten. That’s what you might call a moral victory. Those types of wins only exist in the regular season. In the NBA playoffs the only victories are reflected by the scoreboard.
The scoreboard shows the Lakers are down 0-2 and history doesn’t favor them.
Kobe Bryant is taking plenty of blame for his clutch collapse. Steve Blake’s Game 7 performance against Denver is quickly forgotten in the instant he bricked an open three late. Coach Brown’s calculated adjustments are an afterthought now that he’s back to the drawing board.
Maybe there is some added confidence that the Lakers have a formula for beating the Thunder. Problem is that formula has got to work four out of the next five tries…if the Lakers are lucky enough to get that far down the road.
If Game 2 were a boxing match that went the distance then the scorecard would likely favor the Lakers. They imposed their will, had the game on their terms and forced OKC to play to their style. Unfortunately the only scorecard in basketball is the final score. The final score has only favored the Lakers once in five meetings with the Thunder this year. Maybe you see the pattern here.
Right about now it looks highly unlikely that the Lakers will advance past the Thunder. Any moral victories in May will just have to be carried over to October when the season starts all over again. The time for pats on the back has passed. Anything other than a win is failure this time of year. Oklahoma City is who we thought they were and the Lakers let them off the hook.