Lakers – Thunder Running Diary

WaltonAs 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.

Previous Lakers – Thunder Running Diary/Postgame
Lakers 105, Thunder 98: Postgame
Lakers – Thunder Running Diary 2-10-2009

Inactives
Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Sun Yue
Thunder: Desmond Mason, Malik Rose, DJ White

Starters
Lakers Fish, Kobe, Luke, Lamar and Pau
Thunder Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic

First Quarter
11:09 After Westbrook’s backdoor layup nearly incited a riot inside the Ford Center, Walton answered with an open baseline three to put the Lakers up a point. This here’s an extreme example of what we’ve seen throughout the season on the road: opponents truly getting up for the Lakers. Just add in some youthful vigor and a first-year crowd happy to have a team, and the noise level raises considerably.

Luke Walton8:56 What I didn’t mention in that last paragraph is the energy in the building is a good thing for the Lakers, who seemed to lull along with a deflated Target Center in Minneapolis on Sunday. It showed after Odom’s triple put L.A. up 10-2 as the Thunder really struggled with their defensive rotations.

4:46 Since the Lakers were scoring so easily off basic ball movement in the triangle, Kobe got a bit bored and leaked out into transition after a Gasol rebound. He then waited for Westbrook to sort of catch up before doing a modified 360 and throwing it down. It was more fun to watch than that description, and it put L.A. up 21-9.

2:22 Some more of that youthful exuberance here in OKC shone through when Westbrook found Durant for a large one-handed alley-oop in transition, an opportunity Durant used to stare at the adoring crowd for a few extra seconds. Point being, it was a nice play, but the Lakers still led 23-16 and were scoring easier than Bo Jackson in Techmo Bowl.

0:08 Jordan Farmar’s triple gave him a quick five points off the bench and pushed L.A.’s lead to 12, though Durant scored his 10th point on a last-second putback that made it 32-22 after one.

0:00 L.A. shot 59.1 percent in the quarter, including 3-of-3 from Walton, while the Thunder struggled to 9-of-24 shooting.

Second Quarter
10:55 I had Durant’s scoring total at 35 before the game, which may have been a bit low. After a dunk and a J, the one-year Texas product was shooting 7-for-11 for 14 points to bring OKC within eight. In related news, it’s hard to see the slender Durant when he turns to the side. He should have to wear a CalTrans vest.

Jordan Farmar9:03 I don’t want to say that banks are open late in Oklahoma City on Tuesdays, because that would be lame, but Sasha Vujacic just banked in a triple to put L.A. up 39-27. With Gasol turning to laugh, we remind ourselves that after the USC kid banked in his halfcourt shot at STAPLES, Sasha said “You either practice a lot or got lucky.” He practices a lot, but still.

6:28 Josh Powell’s 19-foot jumper, his second from the perimeter since checking in, preceded a Farmar free throw that gave L.A. 20 bench points compared to eight for OKC. No surprise that L.A. took a 47-29 lead, outscoring the home team 15-7 to start the second.

3:00 Odom’s slice to the hoop and subsequent tomahawk dunk from Walton took some steam off OKC’s 10-2 run. The Thunder had scored five straight points on L.A.’s bench, prompting Jackson to put his starters back in with about 5:30 left, but Bryant and Co. conceded five quick points themselves before L.O.’s lefty jam made it 51-39. Points remain there for the taking when the Lakers run their offense, which hasn’t happened on every possession in the second.

0:02.0 After Kyle Weaver from Mychal Thompson’s son’s school countered an open Fisher three, Bryant missed a contested three at the buzzer. As such, L.A. took a 56-44 lead into halftime despite not playing particularly well in a quarter that saw the Lakers increase their lead by two from the first quarter. The Thunder are young and fun, but simply need some time to gel together defensively and figure out who besides Durant is doing what on offense.

Halftime RUBBER BOY!! YES!!! My favorite halftime act by far. If you haven’t heard of this freak, he literally puts his whole body through a tennis racquet before climbing into a very small glass box and closing himself inside of it. If you’re not careful, you can vomit just by watching. It’s horrible and fantastic all at the same time.

Halftime Again Rubber Boy’s elbow just fell off his body onto the ground. Oh wait … never mind. Just looked like it.

Third Quarter
Sorry, I spent the first few minutes of the quarter collecting my wits after Rubber Boy destroyed my sense of normalcy. Let’s get back to the action:

Lamar Odom9:42 Instead of keeping the rotation going to an open Bryant, Walton took his own open look from the top of the key to put L.A. up 61-47. Generally Walton makes that extra pass, but it’s a good thing that for L.A. he’s taking his shots when he sees ‘em, and is now 4-for-5.

7:06 Bryant gave Durant a free defensive lesson … First he up-faked KD high into the air from between the free throw line and baseline, then hung in the air after the second-year player recovered nicely to swish a baseline jumper. With the make, L.A. took a 67-51 lead, and Bryant had 17 points.

5:06 Westbrook sure is athletic, but he’s also often out of control. Exhibit 9 or 10 of this came as WB flew towards the hoop in transition, and was wrapped up by Walton. As Westbrook went down in a heap and the crowd started screaming, the refs awarded a flagrant foul (two shots and the ball) which didn’t make a great deal of sense. Weak.

3:05 With Fisher bumping Weaver on the perimeter, the refs blew their collective whistle for the 11th time this quarter, matching the 11 total calls in the first half. In related news, the tempo was almost entirely destroyed as L.A. led by 12.

1:52 OKC finally cut L.A.’s lead under 10 (73-65) when Ariza pushed Durant down while trying to grab an offensive board. Durant made both free throws, though he’d only converted 1-of-4 shots from the field in the quarter to get to 24 points.

1:01 As Powell went for an offensive board but couldn’t get between three OKC defenders, we find the stat of the game thus far: The Lakers had collected just one offensive rebound, which is unheard of because L.A. is third in the league in offensive boards, and climbing with Odom’s recent penchant. You have to give some credit to the highly-active Thunder, however.

0:04.9 Of course, Powell grabbed an offensive board after an Ariza miss. Still, Durant had nailed a triple on the previous possession to do exactly what L.A. didn’t need: Allow the crowd back into the game as their new team cut the lead to seven, 75-68, heading into the fourth.

Fourth Quarter
11:08 A deep jumper from Nenad Krstic followed a Weaver putback to cut the lead to three, nearly causing the OKC fans to rush the floor. Vujacic then missed a J off a screen, and Collison laid in near the rim to make it a one-point game and cap a 15-2 run to make it 75-74 Lakers.

Kobe Bryant10:00 To L.A.’s rescue came Trevor Ariza, who first scored a tough hoop in traffic before stealing the ball near midcourt, racing ahead and finishing despite a tough foul from Collison. He missed the free throw, but L.A. was back up five. Hold on a second, though … How had it gotten close? Essentially, L.A. stopped running its offense, began settling for jumpers and didn’t get back quickly in transition after misses. Effort stuff.

8:16 Kobe started to get his pump-fake on with the rookie Weaver, getting free throws on back-to-back possessions and making the second of two field goal attempts. With that, L.A. went up 85-80. Word is that OKC loves Weaver, who was on the PAC-10′s All Defensive Team for a few years, but guarding Kobe’s just a bit of a leap.

6:29 Sometimes you’d prefer to see L.A.’s aesthetically pleasing triangle to Kobe’s 1-on-1 game, but when No. 24 has it going, why stop? Bryant just cashed another jumper after swishing his first three attempts from the field in the fourth, plus two free throws to give him 10 points in roughly three minutes (L.A. had gone on a 16-8 run to go up 91-82).

4:01 Lakers fans watching on TV or listening on the radio just suffered from momentary heart stoppage as Kobe stayed on the ground for an extra 15 seconds or so after getting hit in the lane. However, as L.A. took a timeout, Bryant seemed fine and even rubbed Gary Vitti’s bald head, then returned to the floor without a limp. Crisis averted (plus a free throw and a 10-point lead).

3:33 With OKC expecting Bryant to shoot again, he instead reversed the ball to a wide-open Fisher, who scored easily. Fish then proved his fourth-quarter worth once again by hitting a 20-foot jumper from the left wing off Walton’s pass. That may have been the dagger: Lakers 100, Thunder 89 with 2:43 on the clock. If nothing less, it allowed Jackson to put Gasol on the bench after 41 more minutes of work and a 14, eight and six line.

1:43 There’s your official dagger, a Bryant “Oops deked you” move and right handed finish off glass at the rim. Piling on was Walton, off a nice Powell (who checked in for Gasol) feed that put L.A. up 104-89. L.A. had outscored the thunder 29-15 since OKC pulled within one near the start of the quarter, and the Lakers improved to 21-6 on the road and 47-10 overall with their fifth straight win.