First things first: Today is the 15th anniversary of the Alfred P. Murrah bombing in Oklahoma City. 168 Oklahomans died that day. Take a moment, reflect on it, think about where you were when the bomb went off or say a little prayer.
A nice story from Casey Wilson of the Oklahoma Daily on the connection between the bombing and the Thunder: “Fifteen years after 168 people lost their lives in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, life in downtown Oklahoma City is thriving while living in the shadow of the deadliest domestic terrorist attack on American soil. Today, the Ford Center is filled with thousands of people united in cheering on the Oklahoma City Thunder. This team is, for Mayor Mick Cornett, a prime example that shows how the city and the state has moved forward after the bombing. For many years, Oklahomans allowed for the bombing to define them, Cornett said. But now the Thunder allows the city and the state to connect itself to something more positive, he said.
Darius from Forum Blue and Gold: “But, I should also add that Durant did the Lakers a big favor by continuing to rely on long jumpers in isolation situations. Based off his regular season stats, Durant shot only 40% from the field in isolation situations but took a bit over 25% of his shots in those exact scenarios. Coming into this series, I mentioned that this would be a major factor in whether or not Durant would be successful and today that held true. If KD is going to be content with settling for long jumpers with Ron playing him in close proximity, I’m unsure as to whether he’ll play substantially better than he did today.”
Bill Plaschke on Ron Artest’s defense on Durant: “If somebody else did this, they’d be happy, but I’m not satisfied,” said Artest after what were surely his three most satisfying hours of the season. He may profess to not know where he is, or who he is, or what he’s doing, and after spending six months listening to his mind roam, you may be inclined to agree with him. But make no mistake: On this suffocating Sunday afternoon, Ron Artest was completely cognizant of Kevin Durant. Artest shoved him, squeezed him, shouldered him, turned the league’s leading scorer into just another confused tourist from Oklahoma City, Durant wandering aimlessly off the Staples Center court with 24 points on 24 shots after the Lakers’ 87-79 victory over the Thunder.”
Kelly Dwyer: “And they were playing the Thunder, who defend, so that all fell apart as the game went along. Didn’t matter to me. For a little while, the Lakers seemed to see the light. Russell Westbrook saw the light, too. That LED tracer that lines the perimeter of the backboard, as he was getting to the rim whenever he wanted. Good thing, because Kevin Durant (if I can go the cliché route) looked a little nervous in his playoff debut. Hesitant, in spite of the 24 shots he put up. Hopefully that goes away by Game 2.”
Silver Screen and Roll: “The Thunder’s other main source of points, guard Russell Westbrook, had a fairly brilliant day. After a first quarter in which he deferred to Durant and tried to get other guys going, he started attacking the inside of the Laker D in the second. Derek Fisher did his best but obviously isn’t equipped to stay with Westbrook. Even with OK help rotations and with Kobe Bryant and Shannon Brown occasionally taking over defensive duties, Westbrook still went off for 23 points on 65% True Shooting and eight assists with only one turnover. During one stretch at the end of the second quarter and beginning of the third, he scored on five straight possessions. He’s going to have a huge series; the issue for OKC is whether he and Durant can get enough scoring help from the Thunder’s role players.”
Ian Thompson with five thoughts: “The explosive second-year point guard scored the Thunder’s final eight points of the second quarter to drive them within 47-39 at halftime. Westbrook won his matchup overall, and yet the last laugh went to 35-year-old Derek Fisher, whose guffawing three gave L.A. a 10-point lead with 90 seconds to go. Westbrook did much of his damage in transition, but the Lakers can live with those moments so long as their team defense keeps Durant muzzled. The question now: Can Westbrook exploit his matchup to create opportunities for Durant? Because the Thunder have no hope if the point guard is their most efficient threat.”
Mike Baldwin: “But here’s a dose of reality: The Lakers didn’t exactly bring their A game either and still won. The Thunder should play better Tuesday night. But so should Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Bryant, like Durant, didn’t shoot well. Maybe his banged up index finger and leg injury will affect him the entire series. Maybe not. And trying to contain the Lakers’ inside trio of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom will be a daunting challenge the entire series. And for anyone dreaming of Oklahoma City winning the series, here’s another dose of reality. Phil Jackson coached teams that win Game 1 have gone 44-0. It’s one reason the man owns 10 NBA rings. When a Jackson coached team jumps out to a 1-0 series lead it’s been game, set and match.
Jordan Schultz of FanHouse says this series is still going to be a good one: “Two huge elements stuck out most during Sunday’s Game 1 that hint towards this being a longer series than many people think. First, Russell Westbrook is a problem. His explosive drives in transition made Derek Fisher look every bit of 35. A 9-for-15 shooting performance is one thing, but the ease in which he got those points — blowing by everybody and hanging in the air to convert seemingly every opportunity around the basket — is another. We know Fisher isn’t the defender he once was, but Westbrook’s ability to beat him off the bounce is an issue for LA.”
Shoals: “But the Thunder forced the Lakers to think about basketball, instead of just waiting to win out on talent alone. Incomplete as the Lakers effort was, it at least saw them taking the series seriously. It says a lot about Scott Brooks’s young team that they pose a strategic challenge as much as one predicated on athleticism or raw talent. In a way, though, that might be the kind of challenge this Lakers team, and especially Kobe, is most comfortable with.”
I don’t really know what this is, but someone sent it to me. It says Greg Oden has KD as his MVP but starts it as, “As much as I hate to say it.” Odd.
For any Chinese speaking DT readers, here’s a great preview of the series.
Game 2 tomorrow night. I’m already anxious for it. And then playoff basketball in the Ford Center. I think Governor Brad Henry should call it a holiday and let everyone off work and out out of school for the day. Just my thinking.