Thunder-Lakers: Lessons from Game 2
The Lakers’ 95-92 victory over the Thunder in Game 2 Tuesday night offered a variety of lessons.
1. Kevin Durant is getting beat up. Ron Artest is making life miserable for Durant, even when Durant is on his game, like he was in Game 2. Durant scored 32 points on 12-of-26 shooting, but by game’s end he was settling for fallaway jumpers. Anything he could do to get away from Artest.
A Western Conference scout sat next to me at the game and complained about the officiating all night, mostly on how much Artest was getting away with, saying Artest did the same to the star player of the scout’s team. Basically grabs Durant with both arms and doesn’t draw a whistle.
Artest had only two fouls in Game 2. Durant got only six foul shots. The difference in this game was simply this: Durant got six foul shots, Kobe Bryant got 15.
In the refs’ defense, Bryant was more aggressive in terms of driving, although Durant was by no means passive.
Four years from now, Durant will be 25 and much stronger. He won’t get pushed around by the next Ron Artest. But for now, Durant is going to have to live with it.
2. The Thunder’s shot blocking needs serious appreciation. Remember the notion of how the Thunder needs someone to defend the basket? How much better at swatting shots can a team get? The Thunder led the NBA in blocked shots and batted away 17 on Tuesday night, just three shy of the league playoff record set by the 1981 Sixers of Julius Erving, Darryl Dawkins and Caldwell Jones.
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