Despite all the progress the team has made this season, it sometimes takes a game like this to realize just how far the Thunder have to go to become an elite team in the NBA. Although Oklahoma City is competitive each night, the Lakers dominated this game from start to finish, and won by 18 points. Even more impressive was that they did so without having any of their starters on the floor for the final 8 minutes of the game. Pretty impressive. Kobe Bryant didn't even set foot on the court in the final quarter, and finished with 19 points. But when you get out to such a big lead early, 37-20 after the first, and hold that lead over the next two quarters, you can do things like that, especially when you have the talent on the bench that the Lakeshow has.
The Thunder defensive has seen great improvements over the course of this season, which makes it really scary to think how ugly this game would have been a few months ago. The Lakers shot 50% from the floor tonight, including 39% behind the arc, and 94% from the free throw line. The Thunder had no shot at all when they only shot 41% and were just downright terrible from downtown shooting 3-18 from 3 point range, which translates to about 17%. You really can't allow the Lakers to shoot 50% from the field and expect to win the game, especially if you aren't going to be able to shoot anywhere in that same range.
One positive for the Thunder is that they won the rebounding battle, but only by a few. In the end, it didn't make much of an impact on the scoreboard because of the FG% that the Lakers shot over the course of the game. Both teams had 4 blocks and the Lakers had 3 more steals than the Thunder, who finished with 7 for the night. It would have taken a dominating performance on the boards to overcome the shooting percentage deficit, and that just wasn't the case tonight.
Both teams had 6 players in double digit scoring tonight, and Kevin Durant had a game high 24 points. Of course that is a little bit decieving as 5 of those 6 guys barely broke into double digits and the second leading scorer on the team was Jeff Green with 12 points. Krstic scored 11, followed by Sefolosha, Westbrook, and Collison with 10.
The Thunder will get a few days off from Live game action before heading up to Canada eh to take on the 2-8 over their last 10 games, Toronto Raptors. Oklahoma City will need a win in Toronto if it has hopes of getting a win on this three game road trip before heading back home next week. The final two games of the trip are in Boston on Sunday, and at the Spurs on Tuesday before heading back home to take on Portland next Friday. Not to say they have no chance against the Celts or Spurs, but on the road its a bit of a tough task to ask this young Thunder team to get a victory.
|Final - 3.24.2009||1||2||3||4||Total|
|Los Angeles Lakers||37||25||28||17||107|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||20||18||34||17||89|