OKC Thunder's defense on Kobe and lack of turnovers set the curve
THUNDER REPORT CARD — About the only thing the Oklahoma City Thunder didn't ace in their Western Conference semifinal opener with the Lakers was Chaos Control.
The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel grades the Thunder's 119-90 win over the Lakers in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series:
Ball security: A.
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With 5:18 left in the third quarter, Russell Westbrook threw away the ball. That was OKC's second turnover of the game. The Thunder, which has played so careless at times this season, finished with just four turnovers, even though the C team played the last eight minutes.
Defending Kobe: A.
The Thunder didn't suffocate Kobe Bryant, but it did frustrate him, which usually is the most important thing against the Lakers. Thabo Sefolosha was excellent in dogging Kobe, but the Thunder only asked Thabo to play for 17 minutes. Laker coach Mike Brown credited the Thunder's physicality. Kobe made seven of 18 shots, but he alternated between long periods of inactivity and then rapid-fire shots, which never is a good sign for LA.
Defending Bynum: B.
The Laker 7-footer had 10 points in the first quarter, including eight in the first five minutes. But Bynum finished with just 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, even though nemesis Kendrick Perkins went out of the game early in the third quarter with a re-aggravated hip injury. And the Thunder's single-coverage of Bynum meant no open perimeter shots for the Lakers' limited wing players.
Scotty Brooks seemed to make all the right moves — although it would have been nice to see Cole Aldrich play earlier, when Bynum was in the game. With Perkins hurt, you never know when Aldrich will be needed in this series. Brooks even kept one of his best weapons close to the vest — his small lineup, with Durant at power forward, was used for only three minutes. That's a lineup that could give LA trouble.
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