The weather in Oklahoma City Tuesday night offered some easy comparisons to what we’ve become spoiled by in Los Angeles: 75 and sunny, not a cloud in the sky.
The talented but very young OKC Thunder squad, however, was reminded that their level of basketball wasn’t on L.A.’s level (OK … maybe the Clippers).
A game that started and finished in blowout fashion was momentarily close when the Thunder took advantage of some lax Lakers defense late in the third and early in the fourth to go on a 15-2 run that cut L.A.’s lead to one, but Kobe Bryant’s 15 fourth quarter points quickly removed any upset hopes.
Now, an odd statistic that generally doesn’t occur for the league’s top rebounding team proved not to matter: OKC outrebounded the Lakers 45-30, including 12-3 on the offensive glass.
“Sometimes games just go like that, no matter how hard you’re going after boards,” said Josh Powell, usually a cinch for three or four offensive boards (he had one). “But we have to be more focused on protecting the big leads we get than just the rebounding totals.”
Though the Thunder shot 41 percent to L.A.’s 53 percent from the field, they deserve credit for their board activity, but ultimately lost because they couldn’t get a stop.
L.A.’s bench had its best game in the last several, getting 10 points from Jordan Farmar, eight from Trevor Ariza and four each from Powell and Sasha Vujacic, which helped make up for slow offensive games from Pau Gasol (14 points on 11 shots) and Lamar Odom (eight points on seven attempts).
Assists from Pau Gasol to lead the Lakers from the center position.
Team-leading +/- rating for Lamar Odom, no shocker since L.O.’s seemingly always at the top of the plus/minus list. Odom had just eight points and eight boards with five fouls, but was very effective defensively and off the floor during OKC’s 15-2 run that started at the end of the third quarter.
Points in the paint for a Lakers team that did most of its damage from the perimeter.
Points for Kevin Durant, a bit less impressive since he went off for 19 in the first half before taking only six times from the floor in the second, instead getting his money at the free throw line with eight makes. The league’s best second-year player added 10 boards and six assists in a very solid all-around game.
Personal fouls whistled by the refs, who seemed to determined to slow the game’s tempo.
L.A.’s winning percentage this season on 47-of-57.