LOS ANGELES - APRIL 18: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots over Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers during Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs on April 18, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 87-79. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Lakers 87, Thunder 79: One Moment... and beyond | ESPN Los Angeles
A lot was made after the game of the shoulder Andrew Bynum tossed at OKC's Jeff Green following a pile up under the Oklahoma City basket in the first quarter.
As Green peeled himself off the floor and started up court, Bynum threw a shoulder at him. It was pretty blatant, and I'm pretty sure of the 36,000-plus eyes in the building, the six belonging to the trio of officials were the only ones who missed it. Bynum felt he was pushed by Green, and wasn't going to take it. Or he might have been pushed by Green.
"Well that, it was a response. Because I kind of got taken out on that same play. I didn't know if he fell into me, or he pushed me. But I wasn't just gonna let that happen without retaliating," Bynum said. "That's just part of being aggressive, part of just letting people know and having a presence out there." Was he lucky to get away with it? "I think so," Bynum said, "but somebody got away with their's on me, first."
The blow to Green was a foul, and not unreasonably classified as "cheap," but it wasn't dangerous, and sent an important message about the way Bynum was going to play, and by extension, the Lakers as a group. They put bodies on OKC players all day, were aggressive on the offensive glass, and contested every shot near the rim (nine blocked shots).
THUNDER: Westbrook's Motor Has Thunder Running
Even so, the day after Westbrook posted 23 points, eight assists and just one turnover in his postseason debut, a reporter asked him before practice Monday if he has surprised himself with some of the things he’s been able to do in his first two years in the NBA.
Westbrook’s response: "Nah, not really. It’s probably surprised you more than anything."
Thunder's Russell Westbrook doesn't back down against Lakers - latimes.com
But as a second-year point guard on a team full of young talent, the 21-year-old Westbrook took stock of what was ahead and tried to treat the game like a regular-season game -- even if he knew it wasn't. "It felt the same. I tried to go out and tried not to do nothing different," Westbrook said. "I tried to play the same way I've been playing all season long and just tried to compete." He did, missing just six of his 16 shots.
Westbrook played a big role in the Thunder slicing a 17-point Lakers lead in the second quarter to six points. "I just go out and try to continue to compete and try and go out and get my team going," Westbrook said. "I felt the flow wasn't right. I just tried to go out and get my team going."