Kevin Durant had 36 and Russell Westbrook added 33, as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Lakers in a rematch of last year's conference semifinals match up, 114-108.
Russell Westbrook was unstoppable in the first half, scoring 27 and a career high five three pointers in the 1st half alone. The Thunder won the second quarter 41-26 to go up 14 at the half.
However, the second half was a different story. Westbrook only had 6 points in the final two quarters while Durant had to carry the team. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 35 points and Dwight Howard had 23 points as well as 18 rebounds as the Lakers cut the 19 point lead down to 4 in the final seconds.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
At the beginning of the season many experts had this match-up penciled for the Western Conference Finals. However, as the Lakers are struggling to hold on to a playoff spot, the Thunder are one of the more surprising teams in the league this year following the James Harden trade. Tonight was the first real match up for the Thunder since the an early season battle with the Spurs. Seeing the Thunder pull away with a W spoke volumes as to the state of the franchise at the moment, and where they can go moving forward.
Fan favorite Nick Collison got extended minutes tonight and was excellent in his rotational defense tonight. OKC rarely doubled, but when they did they were outstanding in their help defense to protect the rim. The result was very few easy buckets for LA.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
As we saw in the playoffs, the Thunder pulled away in the second quarter while many of the Laker starters were on the bench. The Lakers' bench has been a concern this entire season, and with Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol sitting out tonight, the Lakers simply had no one to provide offensive production off the bench.
The Thunder took advantage of the mismatch, leaving Durant and Westbrook on the floor to lead the Thunder into the locker room with a 14 point lead.
What was a key statistic to understanding the game?
Two things stick out to me: fast break points, and points in the paint. The Thunder dominated the fast break points, outscoring the Lakers 28-8. Meanwhile, despite having Dwight Howard, the Thunder and Lakers were pretty much even in points in the paint, with the Lakers winning 44-38. The Lakers weren't better in the one area where they should have been better, and OKC dominated in the one area where they should be better.
What does this game mean to the Thunder tonight and going forward?
OKC's offense was pretty bad tonight. They had the huge 2nd quarter, but other than that they didn't do a great job producing points. We've seen the Thunder improve greatly in terms of point distribution, yet offensive efficiency just wasn't there tonight. Instead they slipped into a lot of what we saw last year where a majority of the offense comes from one or two players.
On the other hand, the Thunder have won 7 in a row, and have the next four at home. Things are still looking pretty good.
|Final - 12.7.2012||1||2||3||4||Total|
|Los Angeles Lakers||27||26||22||33||108|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||26||41||22||25||114|
Thunder Wonder: Russell Westbrook, 33 points, 8 assists.
Thunder Down Under: Nick Collison, 13 points, 7 rebounds.
Thunder Blunder: Kendrick Perkins, 0 points, 2 turnovers.
Thunder Plunderer: Dwight Howard, 23 points, 18 rebounds.
Next game: vs. Indiana Paces, on Sunday, Dec. 9th @ 6 pm CDT
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