First of all, an editor's note: I was supposed to recap the Friday night win over the Wizards, but apparently my DVR didn't know this. I swear I recorded it and put it as the first priority; you can probably imagine what happened. So I didn't get to watch that game, and didn't think I should recap it not having watched it. The gods of basketball then proceeded to smite me, and all Thunder fans, with last night's game. What happened? Read more after the jump.
There are a number of statistics that you could look at from last nights game and glean a reasonably close picture of what went down. Here is a sampling:
- The team shot 37% for the night, never a good night, but it was even worse (32%) in the first half, and this contributed to the slow start. It's probably not a good thing to be on the Lakers home court, defending their championship and with all of their depth, and start off shooting the way the Thunder did.
- 19 Thunder turnovers led to 25 Lakers points. There was just a general carelessness with the ball. This happens too much from Westbrook. I love watching him play, and he does some amazing things (like the block on Gasol and the career high 3 blocks in general) but there are times when he has a shoot-first mentality (something I don't like out of a point guard) and other times when he's not careful with the ball.
- James Harden just couldn't throw it in the ocean last night. It might have been hometown jitters, but he did just play in the same building against the Clip a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, a 2-15 night will slow down those of us talking about his shooting ability, if only for a minute. He did a lot of other things that were positive last night, but going 0-10 from deep...well, you should probably stop shooting at some point.
- It also seems like Durant tries to do too much at times. There were a couple of times in the first half when he had numbers on the break, ended up taking it himself, and ended up with an odd type of runner/leaner that didn't fall. Sometimes those fall, and that's great, but the high percentage play there is to give the ball up to a guy who can take an easier shot.
- There were at least 5 celebrities in the crowd last night: Jack, Khloe Kardashian-Odom, Jay-Z (who was wearing a ridiculous outfit), and what seemed to be A-Rod and Fergie on an awkward date. It's hard to overcome that star power.
But, for all of these statistics, the one that I like best is points in the paint. If you looked at this statistic after the game (and especially after the first half), you would know all you needed to know about who was asserting themselves physically in the game. The final tally was 60-44 Lakers, but at halftime the Lakers had scored 36 of their 57 points in the paint; the Thunder had notched 14 of their 34 from inside. Andrew Bynum led the way inside for the Lakers, collecting 25 and 9 on 9-11 shooting. This game exposed the weakness of the Thunder, and it will be up to Presti and Co. to take steps to shore up the weakness of the team inside.
The Lakers turned the Thunder into a jump shooting team last night, and the Thunder responded with a 3-23 from 3 point range. Sure, you'll have nights like this, and I don't want to paint in too broad of a stroke about last night's results. The Lakers are the best team in the Western Conference, after all.
There were some positives tonight. The biggest positive was the play of Serge Ibaka. He came off the bench and really provided some kind of spark (I say "some kind" only because it couldn't have been that great to lose by 16, and I believe the closest we got when he came in in the first half was 12). He had a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds (including 7 offensive), and added 5 blocks to his stellar performance. He also provided a semblance of a defensive presence that you simply don't get with Krstic in there.
With that, the game is over, the celebs head back to Hollywood happy after their beloved Lakers triumph, and the Thunder prepare for the Jazz tomorrow night.
What were your thoughts on the game? Do you agree with me that the Lakers exposed the Thunder inside tonight? Who can we get to be the Thunder's biggest celebrity follower? Let's talk about it below.