Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum sat on the Lakers bench deep in conversation after the final buzzer sounded.
Even as their teammates left the court and the streamers fell from rafters and the dancing girls took over the hardwood, the Laker big men stayed on the bench. They pointed at different spots on the court. They leaned in to hear each other. It was an intense discussion.
A good three or four minutes went by before they finally left the bench and headed to the locker room.
Rarely do you see that kind of thing.
Then again, rarely does a team get beat quite like this in the playoffs.
Thunder 119, Lakers 90.
Perhaps Gasol and Bynum sensed what others did after Game 1 of this second-round playoff series — this wasn't some sort of aberration. This wasn't a particularly hot night for the Thunder. This wasn't an extremely off night for the Lakers.
This was a sign of things to come. Now, the Thunder might not win every game by four touchdowns. The Lakers might even win a game or two and avoid a sweep in the series.
But the bottom line is, the Thunder is clearly the superior squad.
“We're going to have to play better,” Laker coach Mike Brown said. “It's as simple as that.”
But easy? No way.
The Lakers are seriously overmatched. They don't have the advantage on offense. They don't have the advantage on defense.
The stats tell the story.
The Thunder committed only four turnovers but assisted on 20 of its 44 baskets. It had 13 fast-break points while the Lakers had none. It won points in the paint, 48-44. It won second-chance points, 21-11. It won bench scoring, 50-26.
But let's go back to those turnovers for a minute.
Four turnovers in a playoff game is a ridiculously low number. With the defensive pressure turned up, you're almost assured 10 or 12 turnovers. But for a team that led the league in turnovers to only turn it over four times?
“We've had that in first six minutes of games sometimes,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
Neither the players nor the coaches will say it, but the Thunder is playing as well as it has all season. A sweep of the defending champion Mavs. A Game 1 crushing of the Lakers. Hard to think there's been a better stretch for this bench.
“To be honest, I think we could be better,” Thunder star Kevin Durant said. “We can always get better.”
It's hard to see how they could be much better than they were Monday night. I suppose it's possible, but that just seems like it might inflict some cruel-and-unusual punishment on the Lakers.
Los Angeles had better be doing some serious searching for answers right now.
That's what Gasol and Bynum were doing during their postgame chat on the bench.
“We really just talked about what we're going to do offensively as far as trying to get most of us more involved in the high-low (game) because we have a big advantage there and we've got to get to it,” Bynum told TNT.
A big advantage?
Sure doesn't seem that way.
Doesn't seem like anything is big advantage for the Lakers right now. Not against the Thunder. Not in this series.