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.
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.
Chaos control: C.
No surprise, Metta World Chaos thrived at the inhospitable reception. Thunder fans relentlessly booed Dr. Elbow, but he responded with a 3-point swish on the Lakers' first possession and another 2 1/2 minutes into the game. Chaos finished with 12 points in 32 minutes.
The Thunder didn't play a perfect game. The Lakers still did serious damage with their offensive rebounding. In the first half, Pau Gasol had five offensive boards and Bynum had three. But they combined for just one after halftime. The Thunder actually outscored the Lakers 13-11 in second-chance points.
Harden reception: A.
In a pregame ceremony, James Harden was presented the Sixth Man of the Year Award, and you'd have thought Harden had just returned from successfully beating back some infidels. The Big Blue crowd roared with a sustained ovation.
Early-quarter offense: A.
In the first quarter, the Thunder scored on seven of their first nine possessions. In the second quarter, with the B team on the court, the Thunder scored on nine of their first 13 possessions and took a double-digit lead. But that was nothing compared to the third quarter. In the first 6:10 after halftime, the Thunder scored 24 points, with only one empty possession. That produced an 83-50 lead, and only Thunder die-hards were left watching on TNT.