Thunder run Lakers out of the building

Oklahoma City found its self in a hole. Their MVP candidate was struggling from the floor, Lakers were scoring at will and nothing else seemed to be going right for Oklahoma City. However, after all was said and done, Oklahoma City ran the Lakers out of their own building using a second half surge that ended with a 102-93 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. Oklahoma City improved to 39-12 on the season, including 17-8 on the road.

Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum came out and were ready to play some basketball as they pushed an early first half lead from as low as a single point, to as many as 12 points at the end of the first quarter at 30-18. Then, Oklahoma City slowly started back in the game. A quick 6-0, then a nice 10-2 run, next thing you know, Oklahoma City is right there at the end of the half. Which was capped off by a Serge Ibaka jumper at the buzzer that gave Oklahoma City just a five point deficit at halftime at 44-49.

The Thunder continued what they started at the end of the first half. They sprinted out to a 52-49 lead, which spotted a 15-0 run for Oklahoma City. The Thunder didn’t stop there, they lead 57-50 early in the third quarter before the Lakers tried to make a run. Russell Westbrook would have none of it. He really just took over the second half.

The Russell Westbrook show started in the third quarter. Westbrook scored 13 of the final 17 points in the third quarter as Oklahoma expanded the lead from three to 10 points.  He finished with 29 in the second half. Westbrook had 19 points in the third quarter. The best part about the stat is that, the Lakers also had 19 points in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter was just more of the same. Westbrook attributed 10 points in the fourth quarter and Durant had a monstorious dunk all over Pau Gasol. Oklahoma City led by as many 18 points in the fourth as Oklahoma City was able to really relax towards the end. Oklahoma City would walk off with the 102-93 win.

The win puts Oklahoma City within three games of clinching the Northwest Division. At this pace, Oklahoma City could possibly clinch the division Monday vs. Memphis.

Post Game Grades

Make Threes: A-
Oklahoma City didn’t exactly light up the stat sheet from three-point range. However, OKC did shoot 5-12 from three-point. That’s 41%. Which is very solid. James Harden was 2-3 from deep and boy were they both daggers.

Points off Turnovers: A
There wasn’t a lot of turnovers here. OKC just forced 13 turnovers. However, they turned those 13 turnovers into 13 points. Unlike their counterparts, who didn’t do much with the Thunder 10 turnovers. Very good job on the recovery and enforcement of this.

Second Unit: C
The Thunder won the second unit contest (20-16). James Harden wasn’t exactly himself. However, they had a lot more of an impact than the Lakers second unit.

Thunder Thoughts

  • I cannot begin to put into human words how great Russell Westbrook was tonight. I think he’s the best point guard in the league right now. He had 29 second half points and just one turnover, and he was called for a travel that one time. The cross over and buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter just really capped off what was already turning into a great night for the Honey badger.
  • Westbrook struggled to shoot well in the first half. However, he really kept his composure and kept grinding and putting the ball on the floor. I have one real qualm about Westbrook tonight. He complained way too much. Couple of times Sessions got up the floor and the Lakers had a fast break scoring.
  • Durant really struggled from the floor for most of the game. He finished 10-22 from the floor. However, he did SO much that wasn’t about scoring tonight. Defense, rebounding, etc. He was just all over the place. When his shot wasn’t falling, he got involved. You know, what MVP’s do.
  • Kevin Durant had zero free throw attempts in this game. I can’t remember the last time that this happened. It’s happened, I’m sure.
  • The seven points by Derek Fisher in the second quarter were huge. Oklahoma City was really struggling to keep with the Lakers. The seven points helped OKC spur off a 9-6 run to end the half.
  • Also, Fisher’s tribute video before the game was fantastic. Nothing but class from the Laker organization on that move.
  • Thabo Sefolosha’s defense is just so awesome. He held Kobe to just 7-25 today. He finished 2-14 in the second half.
  • Perkins, Perkins, Perkins… the “Yung Hawg” got his 12th technical of the season. He’s 1 away from being suspended. I believe this one MAY be rescidned, but don’t be surprised if it’s not.
  • Speaking of technical fouls – KD got a tech. What kind of karma will that official get for T’ng up KD?
  • Nick Collison beat Pau Gasol like he did something wrong and he made him like it. Gasol played a horrible game, finishing with just 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting and six rebounds.
  • Do the Lakers forget they have two 7-footers on the interior? They forget to go to them in late game situations. Bynum really played well, but the Lakers went away from him. I’m sure some of that is on Kobe, but I don’t know what else you could put it on, really.
  • I will say the Thunder really just ran the Lakers out of the buildings. Figuratively and literally. OKC outscored the Lakers 25-8 in fast break points.
  • I tweeted midway through the first quarter: Elite teams must win big road games. You can win the games at home, that’s great, but championship teams win the big road games (see: Dallas last year). and this team did just that. They kept it close, even though the first half was bad, and then really pounced on them in the second half.
  • Oklahoma City is three games away from clinching their second straight Northwest Division title. In all honesty, both Utah and Denver have two games by the next time Oklahoma City plays, but OKC can clinch the division by Monday if Utah and Denver lose both of their games. Could be a huge sweat off OKC’s back if they could clinch that going into the Miami game.
  • As awesome as this is, I still don’t think Oklahoma City is the best team in the league. I’m going to leave that for the San Antonio Spurs. You may disagree with me. However, I think OKC is #2, and they can’t beat the Spurs when they’re healthy, so Spurs are #1
  • Overall, just a really impressive win. I wonder if Oklahoma City has ever had a June parade? If not, they really need to start planning it. It might be the single most unproductive day in the history of Oklahoma City.

Next up: vs. Chicago

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