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Thunder 114, Lakers 108

by Darnell Mayberry Published: December 8, 2012

Nuggets from my notebook from Friday’s win over the Lakers.

  • Once again, the Lakers don’t pose much of a threat to the Thunder. Not in my eyes. The biggest threats to OKC are the Spurs, Clippers and Grizzlies. The Lakers, no matter how much talented they’ve added have one fundamental problem against the Thunder. His name is Russell Westbrook.
  • Westbrook proved yet again that the Lakers cannot guard him. You can spare me any talk about L.A. not having Steve Nash, Paul Gasol or Steve Blake. The three of them triple teaming Westbrook couldn’t stop him. In fact, throw Nash or Blake in front of Westbrook and it’s bound to get worse for L.A.
  • Westbrook scored 27 points in the first half tonight…and then he stopped himself because he couldn’t make a bucket. He took his foot off the gas after an amazing second quarter and never was able to rev it back up. The Lakers are sort of lucky he couldn’t.
  • It might have been the strangest great game we’ve ever seen from Westbrook. After dropping 27 on 10 of 16 shooting in the first half, he had just six on 2-for-10 shooting in the second.
  • The 3-ball was going for Westbrook tonight. He made five of seven, setting a career high for makes. His previous high was four, which he had done four times.
  • I must admit. When Westbrook made his first two 3s for the Thunder’s first six points I thought it had the potential to be the worst thing that could have happened to OKC. Westbrook might have had a false sense of security and began settling for more long-range shots. He sort of did. But since they went down it really didn’t matter.
  • Westbrook on why he excels against the Lakers. “They’re a team that everybody likes. And as a young team coming up you always want to beat the best.”
  • As great as Westbrook was, Kevin Durant scored three more points on seven less shots. Sort of the story of Durant’s season.
  • For the record, Nash missed his 18th straight game with a fractured fibula, Gasol was out with tenditis in his knees and Blake recently underwent surgery on an abdominal strain.
  • With no Gasol, there was an interesting chess match at power forward that I was really curious to see. It was Serge Ibaka versus Antawn Jamison, who is more of a stretch 4. It was another chance to see how much Ibaka’s defense has improved away from the basket. My takeaway: meh. Ibaka got beat in transition once, off the dribble once and was late on a closeout once. Other than that, I’d say he did OK. It clearly wasn’t the best matchup for Ibaka, but in this day and age defending guys like Jamison will soon become something Ibaka must do in order to stay on the floor.
  • Another interesting matchup was Kevin Martin versus Kobe. Martin checked in for Thabo Sefolosha with 4:56 left in the first quarter and had to defend Kobe. And K-Mart didn’t do a half bad job. Kobe wasn’t in attack mode at that point, but he clearly went at Martin a little more than he did Sefolosha earlier on.
  • Nobody did a bad job on Kobe. Sefolosha, Martin or Durant. Nearly all of Kobe’s 11 made field goals tonight where tough shots, buckets he had to work hard for. That’s all you can ask for.
  • Way too many offensive rebounds for the Lakers, which is alarming considering Gasol was in a suit.
  • L.A. had eight offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone. At the end of the first quarter, the Thunder had nine total rebounds.
  • Westbrook’s 3-pointer to beat the first quarter buzzer was cold-blooded. But here’s my question. Do opposing teams study the Thunder? Whenever the clock is running down to end a period, Westbrook is going to launch a 3. It’s guaranteed if he’s bringing the ball up the court. It’s probably the lesser of all evils for the opponent, but why let him just walk into a 3?
  • That four-point play Westbrook had in the second quarter pretty much summed up how hot he was in the first half.
  • On that four-point play, Westbrook hit the deck and did his “BOOM!” while crouched on the court. He did it so hard he did a back flip. It was hilarious.
  • Good Thunder: 26 fast break points in the first half.
  • Bad Thunder: two fast break points in the second half.
  • Hasheem Thabeet picked up a silly technical foul in the second quarter for saying a few magic words to a ref. But the funny thing was Thabeet had a legit beef. He didn’t appear to foul Dwight Howard as he posted up.
  • Speaking of Howard posting up, homeboy looks scared to death with his back to the basket. Like, he really looks fearful of what’s about to happen.
  • Interesting strategy used by Scott Brooks midway through the second quarter. He had Westbrook on Metta World Peace, Martin on Chris Duhon and Durant on Kobe.
  • Of course Howard comes to OKC and makes five out of seven free throws.
  • These TV timeouts are way too long. With 8:37 left in the third quarter, K-Mart was catching up with former teammate Ron Artest. Durant and Kobe were chatting. And then Brooks walked over to join Durant and Kobe’s conversation. Weird scene considering the rivalry these two teams have formed.
  • And what’s a Thunder-Lakers game without a little hostility? Ibaka and World Peace got into it late in the game and received double technical fouls. No punches were thrown, but it did look like both players wanted to strangle the life out of the other.
  • That’s seven straight for the Thunder and 15 wins in the last 17 games. Four more home games left on this five-game home stand. An opportunity to create some separation in the standings early in the season.
  • Up next. Indiana on Sunday. Tip-off is 6 p.m.

-DM-

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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