Against the same opponent that they had ripped for the biggest margin this season, the Oklahoma City Thunder obliterated the Los Angeles Lakers again on Wednesday night, 120-85, thanks to a dominant third quarter.
The Thunder started the third quarter with a 22-2 run and the Lakers did not score until nearly halfway through the third. The Thunder did a good job capitalizing some big second-chance points. After the Thunder outscored the Lakers 35-15 this quarter, the match became a Déjà Vu.
Russell Westbrook had 23 points, eight assists and eight rebounds. Kevin Durant added 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 19 points. But Andre Roberson produced the biggest surprise at the night. He had his most successful game as a pro. Roberson had a career high 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, to go along with seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and a team-high four blocks. His +/- was 45!
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
The result was of no shock but the first half of the game was surprisingly competitive.
Thunder starters were able to establish double-digit lead quickly because of their defensive intensity and dominant 1st team. Their defense generated some easy transition points to set the tone of the game. The Thunder seemed to overwhelm the Lakers, who shot only 29 percent in the first quarter and the Thunder 50 percent. And yet the Lakers only trailed by 10 because the Thunder was plagued by turnovers. Their second unit once committed three turnovers in three consecutive possessions.
The game even started to feel out of Thunder’s control from the end of the first quarter. They struggled on both ends, failing to match the Lakers defensively and turning the ball over offensively. Midway through the second quarter, even when the Thunder put Durant and Westbrook back on the court, the Lakers erased the deficit and took the lead when Bryant’s assist found D'Angelo Russell for a 3. However, thanks to Westbrook’s hustle and Serge Ibaka, the Thunder reclaimed the lead entering the locker room. With Westbrook outrunning every opponent, the Thunder never looked back.
Interestingly, Bryant and Durant had a good time playing against each other, which may be more important than the result. Bryant showcased his trademark fadeaway jumper that has made him great in his 20-year career. Durant’s highlight came from his defense this time. He annihilated Bryant twice on one defensive sequence that witness Durant swat away Bryant’s three-point attempt. Bryant also had fun with Westbrook,too. He hit an and-one jumper over Westbrook before walking to the line with a grin on his face.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
The Thunder defense was pivotal for their victory. The Thunder had a season-high 13 blocks that were essential for their 27 fast-break points, as well as their 76 points in the paint! Roberson did especially well harassing his opponent and that paid off with him converting fast-break points on the other end of the floor. Durant limited Bryant to 7-of-22 shooting. Ibaka had a sensational block over Russell in the seesaw period of the second to provide Thunder with some momentum.
Thunder Wonder: Andre Roberson, for having his career night with a +/- of 45!
Thunder Down Under: Russell Westbrook, for doing it all with nearly a triple-double.
Thunder Blunder:Dion Waiters, for shooting just 1-of-8.
Thunder Plunderer: D'Angelo Russell, for shooting 4-of-7 from behind the arc.
Next game: vs Chicago Bulls on Dec. 25 @ 1:30PM CDT