Can’t Close Before All-Star Break


Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

There was only heartbreak in Los Angeles as the Lakers failed to capitalize on their chance to beat the best team in the league, the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 107-103 loss is the 7th straight home loss for the Los Angeles Lakers (the most in franchise history).

Scoring for the Lakers starters was fairly balanced. Both Wesley Johnson and Chris Kaman scored 19 points; Kaman also had 6 assists and brought down 10 rebounds for a double double. Kendall Marshall had a strong showing also bringing in a double double with 14 points and 17 assists (tying his career high in assists). Marshall also had a career night on the glass with 7 boards. Shawne Williams almost breached a double double with 15 points and 9 rebounds.

The Lakers bench at this point in the season is only 3 players deep: Ryan Kelly, Robert Sacre, and Jordan Hill. Despite solid scoring from Jordan Hill, who led the bench in scoring with 10 points shooting 4/8 from the field , the bench was overall inefficient; they were a combined -13 in the +/- stat.

The Thunder dominated the points in the paint 44-34 as well as the fast break points 17-9. Despite the Lakers leading for most of the game (and at one point by as much as 15 points in the 3rd quarter), they simply had no answer for Kevin Durant.

Durant, the Slim Reaper, was the one to take the heart from the Lakers. For the past 10 games, Durant has really displayed his dominance averaging 33.2 points on 52% shooting, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists. With Westbrook still out, he has shown no hesitation in taking the reigns as the sole rolling force behind the Thunder. He produced 43 points (19 points coming in the 4th quarter) 3 steals 7 assists and 12 rebounds for his 18th double double of the season. The Lakers tried to throw different defenders Durant’s way at various points throughout the game, but Wesley Johnson and Shawne Williams were tasked with guarding him most of the time. The Lakers defense held Durant to 2 points in the 2nd quarter and improved on their lead in the 3rd; however, Durant proved to be overpowering for the Lakers in the 4th dropping 19 points and going 3/5 from the arc. He had a nice assist to former Laker Derek Fisher, who hit a clutch 3 pointer to tie the game at 87 with 6:47 left in the game. This proved to be the tipping point for the Lakers as they turned the ball over leading to 2 straight Durant baskets, putting the Lakers down by 5.

Reggie Jackson was the other high point man for the Thunder with 16 points. Derek Fisher had a solid contribution off the bench with 12 points, and Jeremy Lamb also chipped in with 11 points and 4 assists.

Game Notes:

Thunder return from the All-Star break on a 6 game home stand opening with the Miami Heat. Durant was the leading vote getter in the All-Star voting this year. Fifteen of the Lakers 35 losses have been decided by seven points or less. Lakers still missing Nick Young, Jordan Farmar, Jodie Meeks, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Xavier Henry. Steve Nash is still day-to-day with nerve root damage. Trade deadline is coming up Thursday February 20th (6 days).