Nuggets from my notebook from Tuesday's win over the Lakers.
- Russell Westbrook continues to demolish the Lakers. And he's only getting better and better at doing it. The Thunder point guard had a game-high 37 points, a team-high 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and just one turnover to lead the Thunder to it's wire-to-wire win. Nothing and no one could stop him, which has been the story of Westbrook's career against the Lakers.
In four games against L.A. this year, Westbrook averaged 28.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and nine assists. Most significant, the Thunder took the season series three games to one.
Westbrook scored 13 of his points in the opening period, a quarter in which the Thunder scored a season-high 37 points and opened a nine-point lead.
OKC's 71 points in the first half also were the most the Thunder has scored in a half this year.
The most amazing thing in this one was the Thunder turned the ball over only twice. That ties an NBA record. The Thunder's second turnover didn't come until 5:04 remained in the fourth quarter.
Said Scott Brooks: "We're going to talk about those two tomorrow."
Westbrook said taking care of the ball, making good decisions and taking good shots resulted in just two turnovers.
Turning it over only twice is one thing. But turning it over only twice while registering 20 assists and moving the ball around for the better part of 48 minutes is just unbelievable.
Westbrook: "The Lakers came in with basically everybody saying this was a must win. They needed a win, and we needed the win, too. So we came out with a sense of urgency as well."
The Lakers started 0-for-10 from the field.
Kobe Bryant injured his right arm in the first quarter and had to be taken to the locker room briefly. When he returned, he shot his first shot left-handed.
Bryant then favored his arm throughout the rest of the game, right up until he decided to let one fly. His arm didn't seem to bother him one bit when he shot.
I don't know if Bryant was really hurt or not. I would think he wouldn't leave the game if he wasn't. But seeing him walk into 25-foot 3s on back-to-back trips raises a red flag for me. If he was hurt, how bad could it have been?
With that said, Kobe is still the best in the business at burying tough shots. You can't help but admire how he does that, especially when hurt.
In the final two minutes of the first half, Steve Nash was scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting. At that moment, I thought Nash has gotten the biggest pass of any player this season.
Nash then finished with 20 points, four rebounds and four assists.
After the Thunder built an 18-point lead early in the third quarter, the Lakers closed to within five on a Nash 3 just in front of the Thunder bench. Just 6:14 was left in the game. The Lakers didn't score another point.
A total of 64 free throws were attempted in this one, the Lakers shooting 40.
Points in the paint: Thunder 52, Lakers 22. So much for the Thunder needing a low-post scorer.
Leave it to the Lakers to make the Thunder bench look like world beaters. That's not taking anything away from the Thunder. Its second string bounced back in a big way after two duds on the road. OKC's reserves outscored their Lakers counterparts 39-20, and everyone played a pretty critical role. Derek Fisher finally scored. Reggie Jackson took over offensively for a brief stretch in the fourth. Kevin Martin made 3 3-pointers and had five of the team's 20 assists. Hasheem Thabeet filled in admirably for a foul-plagued Kendrick Perkins. And Nick Collison was Nick Collison.
Ronnie Brewer started the second quarter. He played six minutes and didn't really do anything to leave his imprint on the game aside from turning it over on a pass to Collison, the team's first of the night.
Worth noting that Brewer, Collison and Brooks all disputed the turnover, saying the ball was deflected out of bounds by a Lakers player.
Fisher does so many little things that you can see why any coach would be comfortable with throwing him out there. Even at 38. When the ball is on the opposite side, Fisher sags off Jodie Meeks and sandwiches Dwight Howard. When Westbrook needs some space from Kobe, Fisher flattens him with a screen. When Howard catches it deep in the paint, Fisher is there to strip it as soon as he turns toward the rim. All those little plays add up. But the question, especially if Fisher isn't making shots, is whether those little things are frequent enough to continue to warrant 15 to 20 minutes? Especially when those minutes are coming at the expense of a more dynamic, if not impactful player. Stay tuned.
Anybody coming around on Jackson yet?
Thabo Sefolosha does a fabulous job on Kobe. It's like watching a defensive clinic.
Howard scored just six points on 1-for-7 shooting. Score another one for Perk.
Durant was whistled for his 13th tech tonight, putting him three away from an automatic one-game suspension. It was a bizarre tech that came when Durant wasn't even in the game. He was called for it just before a timeout as the teams were walking to their respective benches. Joey Crawford slapped Durant with it, and according to TNT's Craig Sager, Crawford told Durant to go to his huddle. Durant didn't and tried to engage in a conversation. Boom. Durant hasn't had any of his techs rescinded this season, but of all 13 that he's been hit with I'd say this one is most likely to get rescinded. If I'm not mistaken, the league reviews all technical fouls anyway. But if that is untrue rest assured the Thunder will ask the league to look into it.
There was much more I wanted to get into. But in full disclosure, I lost my notebook after the game. It ruined my night. Well, that coupled with the fact that I decided to go to the men's room during the timeout that the Thunder Girls (finally) did the soul train line again. Not a good night. Not a good night at all.
Up next. At New York on Thursday.