By the largest point margin that we've seen this season, the Oklahoma City Thunder trounced the Los Angeles Lakers, 118-78. The outcome was almost never in doubt, as the Thunder were able to establish a 34 point lead midway through the second quarter. Predictably, the Lakers weren't at their best, as veteran Kobe Bryant sat out tonight. Not only that, but in Kobe's place at shooting guard was Anthony Brown. You'd be forgiven for not knowing Brown, who had only played a total of 18 minutes of NBA court time prior to this game. Predictably, the Thunder attacked Brown early and often, and Kevin Durant had no problem getting efficient looks. Durant was particularly impressive off the dribble tonight, using some tricky moves to get to the rim.
The rest of the team similarly had no problem producing on the offensive end. Russell Westbrook was constantly doubled, so he took advantage of the situation by becoming an assist machine. Nearly all of Westbrook's actual points came in transition and via offensive rebounds. In the half court, Westbrook focused on passing the ball to Durant, Ibaka, and Adams. Durant got the ball on set plays, while Adams and Ibaka tend to work in the pick and roll or pop. Adams' got an unusually high number of looks, simply because the Lakers were running with the stone-footed Roy Hibbert and Robert Sacre at center. As soon as either Hibbert or Sacre committed to Westbrook, it was super easy for Adams to get to the rim. It's not like the Lakers cared about helping. But really, Russell Westbrook single-handedly fueled the rest of his team while on the floor.
The Thunder bench has been a source of some concern lately. But the bench definitely held down the fort tonight. In fact, it was the starters that allowed the Lakers to go on short runs during the second and third quarters. The most notable bench performer was definitely Dion Waiters. Waiters had no problem burning past the smaller D'Angelo Russel and Lou Williams on offense while getting to the rim. Of course, the Lakers had no one to meet Waiters at the rim.
Enes Kanter also had an amazing night, as he had the fortune of being matched up with Robert Sacre. Kanter was able to get to the basket on Sacre for a couple of possessions, so Sacre played Kanter low. Then Kanter hit three straight jumpers. Then Byron Scott subbed in Brandon Bass, and Kanter proceeded to score tons of points on the mismatch.
The rest of the unit wasn't overtly exciting. It was nice to see D.J. Augustin get involved in the passing game a bit more, as well as hit a off-the-dribble three in transition. Nick Collison was as smart a passer as ever, with three assists. Lastly, Anthony Morrow shot pretty well in non-garbage time. Morrow had a memorable three from a tough Augustin pass, as well as a turnaround shot that he was able to create off the dribble. More evidence that this man should be given the ball every night!
- The starters didn't need to play the fourth quarter. Woo!
- 28 assists on 46 made shots. Not bad!
- The Lakers were 8-18 shooting in the paint through the first three quarters. The fourth quarter was worse, as the Lakers were 3-11.
- Lou Williams had 17 first half points, and he was the only thing working for the Lakers half-court game during that time period. Lots of good shots for Lou around screens, as Waiters just couldn't keep up. Williams got a three on an Ibaka mismatch as well. In general, I felt the Thunder did a good job of forcing Lou to take twos. But OKC definitely has a weakness when it comes to guarding off-the-dribble shooting wings.
- Jordan Clarkson did a bit of playing between the seams, and scored around screens as well. I blame some bad defense from D.J. Augustin, as well as Enes Kanter in these situations. Augustin offers little threat around the screen, while Kanter isn't fast enough to hedge.
- Really though, the Lakers got nothing out of the rest of their team. Collectively, the non Clarkson-Williams Lakers shot 25%. All of them had different ways of playing bad basketball. Nick Young was a complete chucker, shooting whenever he touched the ball. D'Angelo Russell also took some bad shots. But Russell made an overall effort to get his team involved, at least. Randle and Bass couldn't get to the rim. No one trusted Hibbert or Nance Jr. with the ball, for good reason. Anthony Brown couldn't separate himself from the long arms of Andre Roberson, and he looked like a deer in the headlights. Robert Sacre only hits standstill jumpers. And Marelinho Huertas is in the NBA 10 years too late.
- Three pointer cameo from Steve Novak. Singler appeared, but again didn't take a single shot.
- "There were a couple times where Serge passed up open shots, normally at that 15 foot range. [Serge] got it to the other side, actually got the ball back in the lane. For a short little jump hook, which was maybe a better shot." -Billy Donovan
- "I thought Cameron came in and really did a nice job. In some of the D-League games, he's a lot more of a priority scoring. The balance coming back with this group is: Undertstanding, as a point guard, there's nothing wrong with taking open shots, getting to the lane. But you want to be efficient offensively. He did a really really nice job those last 9 minutes of the fourth getting other guys shots, getting other guys involved. ... The shots he did take were good shots. They were at the rim, they were open." - Billy Donovan
Thunder Wonder: Russell Westbrook, the heart of the team (11 assists in 27 minutes!!!!)
Thunder Down Under: Kevin Durant, the cannon of the team
Thunder Blunder: Kyle Singler, for not scoring on a night that everyone else did
Thunder Plunderer: Lou Williams, who can score off the dribble on the wing with the best of them
Next Game: At the Los Angeles Clippers, Sunday, December 21st, 6 PM Central Standard Time.
What did you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!