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A game of cat and mouse: Adjustments in the Thunder-Lakers series

By Darnell Mayberry, Staff Writer, Modified: April 29, 2010 at 7:01 am •  Published: April 29, 2010

A look at some of the major adjustments the Thunder and Lakers have made in this series.

→After playing Serge Ibaka just 22 minutes in Game 1, and only six minutes in the first half, Thunder coach Scott Brooks called on his rookie earlier in Game 2, giving him 28 minutes and watching him block seven shots. In Game 2, Brooks also began making it a point to pair Ibaka with Nick Collison against the Lakers’ front line.

→Brooks unveiled a big lineup of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Ibaka and Collison in Game 2 to counter L.A.’s frontcourt. With that lineup, Green was assigned to defend Lakers star Kobe Bryant rather than customary Thunder defensive whiz Thabo Sefolosha.

→After Bryant scored 39 points in Game 2, Durant switched onto Bryant defensively in the fourth quarter of Game 3. Durant held Bryant to 2-for-10 shooting in the final period.

→In Game 4, Bryant played a more playmaker role from the start in an attempt to get his big men, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, involved early. It led to the Lakers hitting their first six shots and jumping out to a 10-0 lead. But the Thunder turned the tide with defense, shutting down the paint and pinching L.A.’s big men in the post. Thunder rookie James Harden also found his stroke off the bench.

→Bryant took over for Derek Fisher defensively on Westbrook in Game 5 in an attempt to slow the Thunder’s speedster. The move prevented Westbrook from knifing his way into the lane with as much ease, disrupted the timing of the Thunder’s offense because of Bryant’s ball pressure and helped put a lid on the Thunder’s transition game.

→The Lakers pounded the ball inside in Game 5 for all four quarters for the first time this series.


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