That right there is what you want to look like. Deadly shooters, excellent defense, strong rebounding, an elite superstar, top-notch contributing role players and overall awesome team basketball. Bold statement: The Lakers are a good basketball team. I want to be them.
From the opening tip, it was pretty obvious that Los Angeles was here to take care of business. They were focused, they were intense and they were clicking. OKC was in trouble from the get-go. And as someone watching the game, it was apparent early that this was not going to be a Thunder victory. In fact, OKC would be lucky to ever get within 10. So I put the winning thoughts away early and watched for things you could take with you.
- When Kobe was on the floor, the Lakers were +22. When he wasn’t, OKC was only +3. Kobe sat the entire fourth and the Thunder were even with the Lakers. OKC just never took advantage when the best player on the court sat down.
- You can’t fault the Thunder for not trying. The busted their butts tonight. Just nothing went down for them. Kevin Durant was off (4-13 in the first half), Russell Westbrook was scoreless with just one assist in the first half and the team only mustered 38 points at halftime. But to me, it looked like the were working hard. Just things didn’t go right. They gave up 37 first quarter points and the defense was bad, but it was just fundamentally bad. It wasn’t because they were trying. They were just overmatched.
- Maybe the most impressed I’ve been by KD happened with about 1:30 left in the third. Believe it or not, it happened on the defensive end and Durant didn’t even get his hands on the ball. The Lakers were ahead 90-70 and Durant had scored 13 in the quarter and was trying to get his team back in the game. L.A. came down with the ball with Durant on Jordan Farmer. The quicker and smaller Farmer tried to drive baseline but KD cut him off and Farmar backed out. Then Farmar immediately probed KD again and tried to drive. Durant, in an excellent defensive stance with his arms spread wide, cut him off again. Farmar passed it over to Pau Gasol and used Gasol for a screen to shed Durant. Farmar went high to the top of the key and Ariza cut through. Durant and Westbrook communicated perfectly with each other and made a flawless switch and KD picked up Ariza and denied him the ball, trailing him with his arms up. Ariza tried to post KD, but Durant denied him again. It was just obvious watching this whole sequence how hard KD was trying. Down 20 and having an off shooting night, Durant wasn’t going to budge. He wasn’t about to lay down for L.A. His defense has been criticized pretty heavily, but this possession he was textbook. He absolutely worked his tailed off, shuffling his feet, staying low, keeping his arms up and the Thunder paid it off by getting a stop. Plays like this show that he’s committed to being The Man and he’s going to be the superstar we’re dreaming about. Give him another year or two and he’s going to blow our minds. Keep Reading…