Thunder 102, Lakers 93
Observations from the Thunder’s 102-93 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Thursday night:
- Russell Westbrook once again ruled the roost for the Thunder. So this doesn’t sound like a broken record, I try to ask a different teammate to share their thoughts on Westbrook whenever he turns in a superb performance, and Thursday night definitely qualified with 36 points, six assists, two steals and only one turnover. Tonight’s guest speaker on Westbrook is reserve center Nazr Mohammed: “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Russ. He’s been doing an unbelievable job trying to get the ball to guys, taking over the game. His pace of play, his leadership in the huddle, he’s just been off the charts these last 5-6 games.”
- Don’t look now, but Kendrick Perkins has scored in double-digits three of the last four games. He had 12 points (5 for 9 from the field), eight rebounds and two blocked shots against the Lakers. “They’re doing a good job of finding me,” Perkins said of his teammates. “I’m just finishing, doing what I need to do. We’re playing good team ball. I think Kevin and Russ are doing a great job of getting everybody involved early.”
- Oops, one more teammate on Westbrook. Here’s Perk: “Russ came out and had a monster second half and I knew he was because he was mad at himself in the first half (nine points; 3-for-10 shooting). I already know how Russ is – seriously. He came out and did what he needed to do.”
- After starting out the game 0 for 8 from the field, Kevin Durant hit 10 of his last 14 shots. By the way, 10 of 14 is what Durant shot atPortlandin Tuesday night’s win. Take away the first quarter tonight and Durant is 20 of 28 (.714) from the floor. “I’m growing as a player. I started off 0-of-8, I think – all good shots. I just stayed confident, though. My teammates encouraged me every time down and I just told myself to take good shots within the flow, and just tried to do anything to help us win.”
- OK, one more teammate on Westbrook. Here’s Durant: “He was seeing that we weren’t making any shots. Russell is an aggressive player and that’s his game. He came out making shots and we all rallied behind him and we got a good win.”
- The Thunder is 5-0 since Derek Fisher joined the team March 21. Almost every question about Fisher has been about his leadership in the locker room. Nick Collison said there is much more to Fisher. “Everybody’s talking about what he brings to the locker room,” Collison said. “I think he can really help us as a player, too. He gives us stability in that second unit running the team. … It’s great that we got him.”
- Pre-game and post-game were absolute zoos. There were 23 media types on hand to hear Fisher essentially make a two-minute statement after the Thunder’s morning shoot-around. Roughly 50 media members surrounded Fisher for a pre-game Q&A at Staples Center. After the game, 44 media folk swarmed the Durant-Westbrook corner in a pint-sized visitor’s locker room. OKC went through the same interview routine when it played the LA Clippers here on Jan. 30 and I believe there were three reporters at shoot-around and roughly a half-dozen reporters during pre-game and post-game.
- After Thunder coach Scott Brooks addressed the media, he went back into the coaches’ dressing room. It was there where Brooks and Fisher chatted for roughly 10 minutes alone, sitting on chairs. No clue what was said, but when they were done talking, Brooks and Fisher stood, slapped hands and hugged it out. Thursday was important to Fisher. No doubt about it.
- Just in case there was any doubt, Perkins can’t stand Pau Gasol. Perk has said as much, which is why Perk was booed louder than any Thunder player all night, including pre-game introductions. Perk was called for his 12th technical foul of the season after he flared his elbows and was fouled by Gasol. The tech has a good chance of being rescinded. Remember, 13 techs bring a one-game suspension, as does every other tech thereafter.
- Time for a little quoteboard:
- Lakers center Andrew Bynum on the Thunder’s second-half performance: “Everybody on their team played decent amounts offensively to get it done. They turned it up, and they beat us in transitions and loose balls.”
- Lakers starting point guard Ramon Sessions, the man who replaced Fisher, on the Thunder’s second-half performance: “They just got up a little more. They got a couple more loose balls offensively, and they kind of sucked our defense away from us. They came out, they played hard, they played a good game.”
- Gasol on seeing Fisher: “I told him it was great to see him. As a teammate, as a friend, as a person who we shared so many battles with, I told him it’s weird not to have him around. But obviously, (I) wish him the best.”
- Lakers guard Kobe Bryant on their loss tonight: “Tonight, the offensive rebounds killed us (19 for OKC, resulting in 23 second-chance points), the transition killed us (25-8 in favor of the Thunder), those 50-50 balls killed us. That’s what cost us the game.”
- Westbrook on Westbrook: “Kevin and I started a little slow and the game got kind of out of whack and my job is to pick us up wherever we need to do to win.”
- Don’t forget OKC still played defense tonight. If it didn’t slow the Lakers’ quick start with the some stops thereafter, no way the Thunder wins. “We always rely on our defense,” Durant said. “I think tonight our defense was pretty good. We made those guys shoot tough shots. They got a lot of weapons, but I think we just stuck with our concepts. Luckily they missed a few and we did a great job of contesting.”
- And on Derek Fisher night, we close with Derek Fisher:
- (On if he was asked to scout the Lakers): “Nowadays with advanced scouting and technology, when teams call the play, the opposing team’s coaches know the plays as well as the players on the floor do, so I just tried to add some information about tendencies, what guys like to do in certain situations. I’m on the other team now, so it was definitely my job to help us as much as I could.”
- (On his emotions of coming back to LA): “Overall, my emotions were in a very good place the entire time. I think due to the circumstances and how fast things have happened in the last couple weeks, the best way for me to show up here is to have been focused on what I could do to help my team win. I think the door was shut pretty hard in terms of how it happened. Obviously the team felt that they needed to move on. I have as well. I came in tonight pretty much with the similar mindset I have going into every road game – focused and trying to help my team win.”
- (On receiving a standing ovation before the game): “The fans here and the people here in this city and the community – regardless of where I play – will always hold a very special place in my heart. Regardless of whether they applaud me or boo me because I’m on the other team. But moving here in 1996 and experiencing what I have in 13 years as a member of the team – just great, great memories and a lot of great moments that without them wouldn’t be as special.”
- Up Next: Mighty Chicago(41-11) at noon Sunday at The Peake.
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