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Fouling Lakers' big men could be a winning strategy for Thunder

The Thunder could take advantage of the 18 hard fouls they have to hand out in tonight's game at Staples Center.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: January 16, 2011 at 5:57 pm •  Published: January 16, 2011

/articleid/3532939/1/pictures/1341982">Photo - GAME FOUR / L.A. LAKERS: Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka (9) fouls Lamar Odom (7) of L.A. next to Andrew Bynum (17) during the NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the NBA playoffs at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Saturday, April 24, 2010. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD
GAME FOUR / L.A. LAKERS: Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka (9) fouls Lamar Odom (7) of L.A. next to Andrew Bynum (17) during the NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the NBA playoffs at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Saturday, April 24, 2010. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD

But at the foul line, Gasol is the only quality shooter, with an 82 percent conversion rate this season. Odom is making just 65 percent of his foul shots, and Bynum is converting only 60 percent.

The Thunder utilized the same strategy Thursday against Orlando center Dwight Howard. Only it backfired. Howard, a 58.9 percent foul shooter, made 17 of 20 free throws, tying a career-high in made free throws.

But the Thunder, particularly in last year's playoffs, has had some success against the Lakers' front line.

In the regular season a year ago, the Lakers shot 45.7 percent and 49.2 percent on 2-pointers. L.A. also averaged 1.21 points per shot in the regular season.

Against the Thunder in the playoffs, the Lakers shot 44.2 percent and 48.3 percent on 2-pointers. And the Lakers' average points per shot dipped to 1.17.

“It's a difficult matchup, but we don't feel like we have to do anything totally different,” said Collison. “We'll try to guard them and make them score over us. They're going to get buckets. They do have a lot of size and good inside players. But we're not just going to throw our defensive scheme out the window. We're going to try to play well against them and try to win the game.”

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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