Lakers – Thunder Running Diary

Jim CleamonsAs always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Inactives
Lakers: Shannon Brown, Andrew Bynum, Adam Morrison
Thunder: Desmond Mason, Mouhamed Sene, D.J. White

The Thunder layup line has disintegrated into an impromptu dunk contest warmup line. Chris Wilcox misses two left handed windmills before deciding to stop the Chris Andersen imitation and make a bucket. UCLA’s Russell Westbrook catches a pretty oop off the glass from Chucky Atkins and throws it down. I’m fine with him lighting it up as he’s got something to prove at All-Star Saturday night, but Jeff Green just needs to stop unless he’s going to make one.

For their part, the Lakers stick to the traditional layups followed by mid-range jumpers. Boring but time-tested.

Newcomers Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown aren’t used to the pre-game rituatls and Morrison especially wasn’t ready for the man-hug that Kobe delivers before tip. Adam had even moved to the row of seats behind the bench where he’ll watch the game with the other inactives. Shannon Brown continues to be excited about everything.

Starters
Lakers Fish, Kobe, Luke, Lamar and Pau
Thunder Russell Westbrook, Kyle Weaver, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Nick Collison

First Quarter
9:17 Pau connects on his second bucket of the game to tie Pau Powellit up at 4-4. Thus far those two shots are the only easy ones the Lakers have taken. The rest have been of the spinning and/or fadeaway variety.

8:28 Gasol again on an oop from an off-balance Luke Walton. Pau didn’t initially see the pass coming but his superior length allows him to adjust late and still make it look easy.

5:28 The Scouting Report today was simple–pound it inside. Just about every time the ball has gone in to Pau he’s converted it into points, shooting 5-of-7 so far. The rest of the team, 2-of-11. Both of those by Kobe and both were layups. All 14 of the Lakers points have been in the paint, while only two of the Thunder’s 17-points (a wide open hammer dunk by Durant) were from inside.

2:32 L.A. holds a 15-10 rebounding edge, including six on the offensive glass, but trails the visitors 21-18 while only shooting 36%. Oklahoma City isn’t exactly burning up the stat sheet with their 42%, but they are 3-of-5 from behind the arc. Trevor Ariza and Jordan Farmar check in.

0:00 “Classic trap game” is a term that comes to mind to describe the first quarter. It comes to mind because your faithful Lakers Reporter, Mike Trudell, has said it six times over the course of 12-minutes. He’s right though, the Lakers came out with no energy and settled for poor shots. Kobe used some of his veteran wiles to get a little separation on the full court baseball pass that led to a vicious dunk by Bryant. Maybe that’ll spark a little excitement out of this team. Maybe the Harlem Globetrotters making an appearance at the break will. Maybe Chris Mihm will. 25 all at the break.

KobeSecond Quarter
7:15 OKC comes out of the timeout converting on five-straight possessions to take the lead back from the Lakers at 39-37. You’d think with Kevin Durant out of the game (he exited at the 9:33 mark) the Thunder would struggle to find their offense, but Earl Watson carried them by making three shots and assisting on the other two.

5:34 On paper the Lakers second unit has a huge advantage in this matchup, but during their first stretch they played the Thunder to a standstill. The starting unit of Fisher, Bryant, Walton, Odom and Gasol returns with the game knotted at 41 as OKC brings Durant back in.

3:21 With that free throw Kobe just became the youngest player in NBA history to score 23,000. Bryant beat out Wilt Chamberlain by five days at 30 years, 171 days old. Here are some more notes on the achievement from the Game Notes:

Earlier this season, with 28 points December 2 at Indiana, Bryant became the 22nd player in NBA history to score 22,000 points and in doing so, became the 2nd youngest player ever to 22,000 points (30 years, 101 days), one day older than Wilt Chamberlain (30 years, 100 days) who scored his 22,000th point on 11/26/66. The next youngest to 22,000 points were Oscar Robertson (31 years, 117 days) on 3/21/70 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (31 years, 350 days) on 4/1/79. The youngest player in league history to accumulate 13,000 – 20,000 career points, Bryant became the 12th fastest to 22,000 points in terms of games, reaching the mark in 881 career games. Through his career, Bryant has been 29th fastest to 15,000, 22nd fastest to 16,000, 20th fastest to 17,000, 16th fastest to 18,000, 15th fastest to 19,000, 15th fastest to 20,000 and 12th fastest to 21,000 points in terms of games.

Last season, Bryant became the 25th player in NBA history to score 21,000 points and in doing so, became the 2nd youngest player ever to 21,000 points (29 years, 194 days) and 2nd ever under the age of 30 behind Wilt Chamberlain (29 years, 184 days). Michael Jordan was the 3rd youngest to 21,000 (30 years, 40 days). Earlier in the season, Bryant, at 29 years, 122 days, became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 20,000 career points and the 3rd player ever to reach 20,000 points under the age of 30, ranking ahead of Wilt Chamberlain (29 years, 134 days) and Michael Jordan (29 years, 326 days).

0:00 The Lakers starters closed that quarter on a 21-6 run over the final six minutes, pushing the lead to 13 at 60-47. Kobe did a lot of the heavy lifting, going for 11 of the 21-points on four layups and three from the charity stripe. The ball movement increased as the team had nine assists on their 15 baskets after amassing just two in the first quarter.

Pau GasolThird Quarter
8:08 I’m surprised Kyle Weaver can make it back down the floor after pulling the chair out from under Kobe and getting tagging the reigning MVP with a traveling call. The smile on Weaver’s face screamed “OH I GOTTA CALL MY BOYS ABOUT THAT ONE.” A nice mini-victory for the rookie after seeing just about everything else the MVP has in his repertoire. A year ago Weaver, who would go onto be named to Pac-10 all-defensive team, was getting 25 dropped on him by James Harden. Now he’s seen Kobe go for 28 in 24-minutes. The James Harden mention really had nothing to do with anything except that he’s the man.

2:49 Odom stays with the play after getting swatted by Kristic and converts the layup to push the Lakers lead back to seven points. The story remains the same as the Lakers continue to pound it in the paint and the Thunder attack from the outside. Powell, Ariza and Farmar enter.

40.9 Kobe exits as Vujacic enters and Pau sinks a pair to make it 80-73. Gasol has logged 33-minutes tonight after going for 40-minutes plus in the four-games since Andrew Bynum went out. Gasol has been terrific in those games, garnering Western Conference Player of the Week honors, and continues to shine tonight, but limiting his minutes have to be a concern for the coaching staff as there are still 30-games to play in the regular season.

Lamar OdomFourth Quarter
10:36 Farmar tracks Weaver down the court and swats his breakaway layup attempt. That gives Jordan his seventh block of the season a game after collecting his sixth in Cleveland. It also ties a season-high for the guard.

6:25 Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom return to the floor with the lead at 10 as it’s been teetering between seven and ten for the past couple minutes. Gasol exited at the eight minute mark and it would be nice if those 37-minutes he’s played so far are his last.

5:15 Chris Mihm is a foul-machine these days. #31 has racked up 11 infractions in the 25-minutes he’s played five appearances. Mihm always seems to be in the right spot at the right time, but his surgically repaired ankles just won’t allow him to get the lift he needs to make the play. Fisher and Gasol join Odom, Ariza and Bryant for the final 5:15 with the Lakers leading 97-87.

2:56 With the Lakers sporting a 12-point lead, 101-89, Bryant sizes up Durant and goes for a dagger trey, the ones he loves so much, but misses badly (a foul was very possible) and Durant hustles down the floor, forcing Odom to foul him. Kobe’s stat line tonight is terrific (13-of-25 from the field for 32-points and seven boards) but don’t forget about Lamar Odom’s 12-points and 18-rebounds. The Lakers hold a 55-40 rebounding edge due to LO’s big night on the glass.

1:20 Kobe makes both freebies to push the lead back to ten. I’d be remiss if we went a whole running diary (even the shortest running diary of the year) without mentioning Robert Swift. Big Bob Swift did us all a favor by wearing a cutoff t-shirt on the bench tonight so that we can all enjoy his massive tattoo sleeved arms. Swift has always been a favorite part of the Sonic/Thunder visits to STAPLES.

50.8 Amidst a fairly loud “taco chant” Kevin Durant dribbles the ball off of his foot out of bounds to keep the dream alive. 103-95 Lakers.

0:00 The Lakers never delivered the final knockout blow to the visitors from Oklahoma City, but a constant stream of body punches was enough to keep them afloat tonight as they get their 42nd win of the season by a final margin of 105-98.