Here's the good news for the Lakers. They're not mailing it in. They're still giving it the old purple and gold try.
Now the bad news for the Lakers. They're not mailing it in. Effort you can fix. Cut a guy or two. Lock stragglers in a room with Kobe Bryant. There are ways.
But old age, you can't fix.
The Thunder beat the reeling and peeling Lakers 114-108 in a game that was a rout most of Friday night before the good guys lost interest.
And here's how the Thunder did it. With fresh legs and quick hands. With springs in the step of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
For all but eight minutes of this game, the Lakers put up more than a fight. They outscored OKC 37-35 through the first 151/2 minutes and outscored the Thunder 55-47 in the second half.
But those eight minutes, wow. Those eight minutes, we saw a team, with an average age of 25 for its starting lineup, blister the Golden Oldies 32-16.
“I told our guys we really have to lock in defensively,” Scotty Brooks said of that second quarter explosion. “We have to play with our hands. That's how we get run outs, deflections, steals, blocks, and go.
That second quarter we did that.”
The Thunder scored on 13 of 17 possessions during that spree, and the only way to do that in the NBA is with easy baskets.
Nick Collison rebounded a Laker miss, and four seconds later Durant dunked off an Eric Maynor pass.
Eighty-four seconds later, Westbrook stole the ball from Metta World Chaos and fed Kevin Martin for a dunk.
Six seconds after another Collison defensive rebound, Westbrook drove to a layup and foul for a three-point play.
Six seconds after Kendrick Perkins' defensive rebound, Durant swished a 3-pointer.
Martin stole the ball from Chris Duhon and whisked to a layup.
Serge Ibaka rebounded a Laker miss, and six seconds later Westbrook nailed an 18-footer.
That was 15 fast-break points in 51/2 minutes.
“Easy points,” is how Westbrook described them, on a night when he scored 27 in the first half and left the Lakers shaking their heads.
“He just went crazy on us,” said L.A. coach Mike D'Antoni. “They are a great shooting basketball team and they hit a hot quarter.”
And left the Lakers at 9-11. The Lakers were short-handed, with Steve Nash and Pau Gasol out, but those grizzled vets will only make the Lakers older.
What? Nash is going to slow Westbrook?
Duhon looked like Ramon Sessions, the point guard the Lakers imported late last year to deal with the likes of Westbrook, and that got L.A. nowhere.
The Thunder now has beaten the Lakers seven times in nine meetings in the calendar year 2012, including the five-game triumph in the Western Conference semifinals last May.
L.A. went out and got Dwight Howard and Nash to combat the Thunder. Howard was a monster Friday night, with 23 points and 18 rebounds, and Kobe, 35 points on 11-of-24 shooting, continues to defy the age gods.
But otherwise, the Lakers just look old and worn out.
The Boomers look young and fresh. Thunder hands are active and feet are lively.
The Lakers knew the feeling. But not now.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.