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As I sit down to write this journal for a game in which the Thunder throttled LeBron and his merry band of Lakers, I have an overzealous, hyped little angel on one shoulder screaming into my ear to pump up this win as a sign to begin plans on a Bricktown parade. Meanwhile, on my other shoulder, I have a curmudgeonly little scrooge whispering in my ear that this landslide was less about the Thunder and more about the Lakers.
So who am I going to listen to? They each make valid points, so why not hear both of them out?
For clarity’s sake, let’s give them names. Let’s call the sunshine pumping angel, say, Michele. And let’s name the bubble bursting realist, oh I don’t know… Justin.
The following is the back and forth squabble they’ve been debating inside my head.
Michele: That was the greatest Thunder win of the season! Beating the top seeded and title favorite Lakers by 19 points is incredible.
Justin: Slow down. The Lakers already had the #1 seed clinched. They didn’t have anything to play for at all.
Michele: Yeah, but LeBron James played 30 minutes. And Anthony Davis played 29 minutes. Sure seems like a lot of time for guys who weren’t interested in winning.
Justin: It’s not about the amount of time they played. It’s about the lack of urgency when they played.
Michele: If they had no urgency, then why did Anthony Davis pick up 5 fouls? And why did LeBron take 19 shots and go on a one man scoring spree at the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th quarter to try to rally the team?
Justin: If LA was truly trying to win, do you think Frank Vogel would allow Dion Waiters to shoot the ball 13 times? Case closed.
Michele: First of all, how dare you. And how about Lu Dort putting the clamps on LeBron all game? James only scored 19 points on 7-19 shooting. Dort beasted Bron defensively.
Justin: Oh come on. LeBron just settled for too many outside jumpers that he was either going to make or miss, Dort or not. Take away LeBron’s 0-5 performance from 3 and he was 7-14.
Michele: The Thunder led wire to wire. It was the only game the Lakers didn’t have a single lead in all season long.
Justin: It was the only game the Lakers didn’t have any motivation to win all season long.
Michele: OKC held the Lakers to 86 points, their lowest scoring game of the year. You gotta give the defense some credit.
Justin: The Lakers only shot 5 of 37 from 3 this game. That’s an anomaly. You think that will ever happen again?
Michele: The Thunder only shot 5 of 24 from 3 this game. You think that will ever happen again?
Michele: I’m gonna drop some facts. You ready? OKC has now beaten every Western Conference team.
Justin: And the Lakers still won the season series 3-1.
Michele: One of those losses was by 3 points and another was by 5 points. In the three games LeBron and Davis have played OKC, the Thunder have outscored the Lakers by 11 points.
Justin: I’d be more concerned about the one game they didn’t play and beat the Thunder by 15 points.
Michele: Chris Paul was the best player on the court all night, and it wasn’t even close.
Justin: Remember that time that Perry Jones scored 32 points against the Clippers and was the best player on the court all night?
Michele: OKC did all this without Dennis Schroder! Brandon just wrote a whole article after the Nuggets loss talking about how the Thunder needed the 3 point guard lineup to win, so this game proves him wrong and shows what an idiot he is!
Justin: Well, we finally agree on something.
- The Thunder are now the 5 seed and only half a game behind the Jazz for the 4 seed.
- Every Thunder starter scored in double digits.
- 11 of 12 Thunder players were a plus in the plus/minus boxscore. The lone exception was Abdel Nader with a -2 in his 18 minutes.
- The Thunder D accounts for 2 of the 3 lowest scoring team totals since the NBA restart.
- The Lakers without LeBron + Davis beat a healthy Thunder team by 15 in OKC. The Thunder without Dennis Schroder beat a Lakers team with LeBron + Davis by 19 in Orlando.
- Lu Dort on guarding LeBron: “In my mind, it was just another game.” Some are still wary to anoint Dort as a great defender, which is understandable, but he absolutely has the right mindset.
- The Thunder lost to the Nuggets because of a missed free throw with 2.9 seconds left. They hit 32-36 free throws against the Lakers, including their first 18.
- I like Dion Waiters. I like Dion Waiters monopolizing all the Lakers’ bench shots even more.
- Steven Adams no look bounce pass to a cutting Andre Roberson for a layup. This game note sponsored by the year 2016.
- In the battle of undrafted fan favorites: Lu Dort > Alex Caruso.
- Andre Roberson’s first minutes were LeBron duty. As soon as James checked back into the game, Donovan sent Dre in to defend him. Love seeing the confidence in Robes, and I hope his minutes continue to increase.
- Lu Dort, undrafted rookie free agent: Defends LeBron on the Lakers’ first two possessions, finishes a layup and hits 2 free throws on the Thunder’s first two possessions.
- This had to be the first time in LeBron’s career that he’s been only the third strongest dude on the court.
- I love when Steven Adams randomly reminds us all that he has the greatest Eurostep in the NBA.
- Adams gave every Thunder fan in the world a scare when he came down hard on his knee (or was it his ankle?) after a made bucket. But in the post game, he said he saw he scored and it healed him.
- Shai started slow and finished strong against the Nuggets. Against the Lakers, he started strong and finished slow. Still, it’s great that we’re at the point that a 13/7/5/3/1 game on 11 shots is considered a “bad” game for SGA.
- Steven Adams on Chris Paul setting picks for him: “It’s about time bro! We screen all the time, about time the guards show us some love.”
- Chris Paul on Thunder playoff chances: “We’re just gonna keep our heads down, keep on fighting. We weren’t even supposed to be here.”
- On that note, just a reminder that this Thunder team is rebuilding and tanking and has a .2% chance to make the playoffs and beat the #1 seed title favorite Lakers by 19 points.
- Anthony Davis: 3-11 for 9 points. Lu Dort: 4-11 for 14 points. Anthony Davis salary: $27,093,019. Lu Dort salary: $155,647.
- Up next: Thunder vs Grizzlies on Friday. The Grizz are a fun, young team but they’ve lost 5 in a row and just lost Jaren Jackson Jr. to a torn meniscus. OKC then plays the Wizards and Suns. Great opportunity for the Thunder to move up to the 4 seed.