By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Oklahoma City beat the Lakers 122-105 on Tuesday night. Here’s some rapid reaction:
It was the NBA’s second-highest scoring offenses against one of its worst defenses. And it showed. The Thunder came out crisp and energetic early and it was almost as if the Lakers saw that and started to pack it in, at least defensively, conserving energy for a night where they’d have a chance. In the first half, with little to none LA resistance or pressure, OKC scored a season-high 71 points and turned it over a season-low one time.
It was over when…
…The Lakers late efforts, particularly from Kobe, proved to be nothing but a temporary mirage. At one point in the fourth, they even cut it to five. But you can’t win if you can’t get consistent stops. And you can’t get consistent stops if you don’t at least cause a little chaos. LA didn’t all game. The Thunder had a franchise-low two turnovers, also tying an NBA record.
Serge Ibaka drilled a corner three with 2:49 left, lifting the Thunder lead to nine points and ending any potential threat. That has become a legit weapon in this offense.
Star of the game – Russell Westbrook
Coming off the best shooting month of his career, Westbrook has only picked it up even more. He killed the Lakers on Tuesday night. Just torched an athletically overmatched backcourt, like he usually does if Steve Nash is involved. Westbrook went for 37 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, following back-to-back road games of 36-6-5 and 29-6-10. And he’s doing it efficiently, shooting 38-of-72 in those games (52.7 percent).
Stats of note
-Kevin Durant has had games of 42, 36, 35 and 26 against the Lakers this season.
-Durant and Westbrook combined for 63 points and only one turnover.
-Russell Westbrook had double-digit rebounds for only the fourth time this season.
-OKC has won 19 consecutive home games against Western Conference teams.
During an extended stretch in the second quarter, Scott Brooks went with an all bench unit of Reggie Jackson, Derek Fisher, Kevin Martin, Ronnie Brewer and Nick Collison. They played pretty well, too. But imagine Brooks trotting that five out (at any point, other than a blowout) against the Heat or Spurs. You can’t. Because he wouldn’t. Tells you plenty about the state of the Lakers (and their horrific second unit) these days, even if they’re still a mild playoff threat.
The new guys
Ronnie Brewer played six minutes, contributing a steal and rebound, in his Thunder debut. Derek Fisher scored his first 10 points since returning to the club.
As Uncle Drew would say, ‘that’s a pocket pass’.
The NBA’s two leading scorers meet in New York on Thursday night. That is, if Carmelo Anthony’s knee is feeling well enough to give it a go (he’s day-to-day). Should be a good one either way. Thunder at Knicks on TNT.