Thunder vs. Lakers post-game wrap
Notes from the Thunder’s 101-94 loss against the Los Angeles Lakers inside Staples Center on Monday night:
* The outcome prevented Scott Brooks from capturing his 100th victory as Thunder coach. Brooks’ achievement was not the focus of game. In fact, none of the Thunder players were aware he had 99 victories until the topic was broached during pre-game interviews. Brooks, who replaced P.J. Carlesimo as head coach after the Thunder’s 1-12 start upon arriving in OKC, is now 99-93 overall.
* Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (32 points; 12 assists; two steals) wowed the crowd with a series of outbursts that kept OKC in the contest. Trailing 76-61 with 5:01 left in the third quarter, Westbrook directed a 14-2 Thunder run in the next four minutes (five points; three assists) that pulled OKC to within three, which drew a chorus of boos from the sellout crowd of 18,997. “Russell’s improving every day,” Brooks said. “He’s a worker. He’s a great kid. He’s coachable. He’s a great teammate. His game is evolving. We don’t know how far, how much improvement he will get, but I know he will improve every day because he works hard. Every day in practice he gets after it. He’s a terrific player.”
* The Lakers went on a 14-0 run in the third quarter after the Thunder took a 59-58 lead. LA’s run featured three straight 3-pointers, including one at the shot-clock from Kobe Bryant.
* Kevin Durant had a streaky night. He missed his first two shots of the game, made four straight, then missed his next eight attempts. He finished 8 for 23 from the field. In the Game 6 loss last season, Durant went 5 for 23 from the field.
* Yes, Monday’s 2-for-22 shooting performance from 3-point range was a season-low for the Thunder, and there have been plenty of other stinkers that include: 1 for 7; 2 for 14; 2 for 15; 4 for 26; 3 for 17; 4 for 19 (twice); and 4 for 18. “We had stretches of the game where we were good,” Brooks said, “but we didn’t have 48 minutes. We didn’t play well offensively, but the Lakers had a lot to do with that.”
* The Thunder outscored the Lakers 16-5 in fast-break points, mostly in the early going, which gave OKC its best chance at beating the Lakers. The Thunder stood little chance when relying on its half-court offense, however. “We allowed their defense to set up, and that’s to their advantage,” Brooks said. “I thought their bigs really bothered us around the rim. We couldn’t get to the free-throw line in the second half (4 for 7). They’re good. They have a lot of pieces they keep throwing at you. They’re physical and they’re big. They’re good shooters … but we couldn’t make any shots.”
* Lakers point guard Derek Fisher, who hit clutch 3-pointers in last year’s opening-round playoff series, remains a Thunder killer. He had a season high 15 points on Monday. “It wasn’t a surprise, but those are big points for that team,” Brooks said.
* When the Lakers shoot well (38 for 76 from the field; 7 for 14 from 3-point range), it becomes even a longer night for the opponent. “They’re playing a lot better right now,” Thunder forward Jeff Green said. “They’ve got their rhythm. They’re the champions. They know when to turn it on.”
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