What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
Let's enjoy this moment while we can. Forget about the Spurs, at least for tonight. In the span of a few mere weeks, the Thunder have defeated the two teams that have knocked them out of the playoffs, the Mavericks and Lakers. I don't care that both of them are mere shadows of their former championship selves. The Thunder have cleared out their old ghosts and are finally ready to face the new ones. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.
What was tonight's turning point?
The Thunder's amazing start to the fourth quarter. The Lakers were already pretty much leaning on Kobe Bryant as a crutch. But at the beginning of the fourth, everything fell apart. Kobe was out of the game, the Lakers were missing shots left and right, and Ramon Sessions committed two consecutive turnovers. Harden kicked things off with a jumper, and then Durant hit two absolutely killer threes. Then Westbrook followed with a smooth lay-up, and the Thunder were up by 16 points. The game was essentially out of reach for the Lakers.
What was, overall, the main reason the Thunder won?
Talent and offensive rebounding. Until the latter part of the third, the Lakers were running a nearly flawless offense. Bynum and Gasol were getting good looks inside, and World Peace was taking advantage of matchups disavantages. Of course, Kobe was playing like a superstar. But the Thunder stayed ahead because the Thunder had two guys who were playing on Kobe's level, and because they got so many second chances due to some great rebounding from Ibaka and Perkins.
What is a key statistic to understanding tonight's game?
Collison, Fisher, and Mohammed combined for 17 points. I know that some would like to fall back on the old adage of Harden being the sole reason the Thunder's bench mattered tonight, but these guys had a hand in it was well. Collison and Mohammed did a great job of catching the Lakers napping down low, and Fisher wasn't a total disaster. Hell, even Sefolosha and Perk combined for 10 tonight. There's no doubt that Westbrook and Durant were dominating the ball, but nobody else was forgotten tonight.
What does this game mean for the Thunder today and moving forward?
This game gives them another solid series win, and a comfortable trip to the Conference Finals. Are you ready?
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