Monthly Archive for April, 2010

Lakers – Jazz Round 2 Schedule

60069729Here’s the full schedule for Round 2 against the Utah Jazz:

Game 1 – Sun May 2 Utah at L.A. Lakers 12:30PM ABC
Game 2 – Tue May 4 Utah at L.A. Lakers 7:30PM TNT
Game 3 – Sat May 8 L.A. Lakers at Utah 5:00PM ABC
Game 4 – Mon May 10 L.A. Lakers at Utah 7:30PM TNT
Game 5 – Wed May 12 Utah at L.A. Lakers TBD TNT
Game 6 – Fri May 14 L.A. Lakers at Utah TBD ESPN
Game 7 – Mon May 17 Utah at L.A. Lakers 6:00PM TNT

Gasol’s Tip Sends Lakers into Second Round

60317591The storybook ending to an extremely hard-fought Round 1 series was all set up as Kobe Bryant, the man who’d done it so many times before, rose for a baseline jumper with L.A. down one and the clock heading towards zero in a fourth quarter.

Two seconds later, the Lakers had advanced to the Second Round, defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder 95-94.

But there was a lil’ Spanish twist to that equation, as Bryant’s shot actually rimmed out into the hands of Pau Gasol, who softly laid the ball off glass with 0.5 seconds left in the game. The Thunder had a chance for a desperation heave, but Russell Westbrook’s attempt clanked off the front rim.

Lakers win.

60317589“We’ve done this often, running the clock out at the end of a game and allowing Kobe to have that opportunity to shoot the ball and create the space he has to have to make a basket,” said Lakers head coach Phil Jackson. “Tonight it didn’t go in, but Pau was there. He made the tip in.”

That miss was a rarity for Kobe in the second half, as the Lakers rode him to 16 third quarter points and 32 total on 12-of-25 shooting.

“His offense was great tonight,” said Jackson.

Overall, the contest went much like Game 3 in the series, the Lakers controlling the tempo and the score until late in the third quarter, the difference of course being the result. As it were, L.A. possessed a six-point lead when Bryant picked up his fourth foul with 2:40 to go in the third, and the Thunder took advantage in reeling off a 6-0 run to tie the score at 73.

It was Derek Fisher on first response for L.A., hitting his third three-pointer of the game to give a slight buffer into the fourth quarter. Then, with Bryant and Gasol resting, Luke Walton came up with five points on a corner three (his first of the series) and a baseline turnaround to help push the lead back to seven with five minutes to go.

Yet the Thunder had been resilient throughout their season and the series, proven again with a timely 8-0 run sparked by consecutive Lakers turnovers to take a momentary 92-91 lead, their first edge since the second quarter. Kevin Durant, who struggled yet again from the field in making just 5-of-23 shots (though he did convert 14-of-15 free throws), then pushed the lead to three with a jumper, but Bryant quickly countered with a contested J from the corner.

Stepping up in a big way defensively in the final two minutes was Lamar Odom, who blocked a shot and cleared two rebounds, and it was Bryant who cleared Westbrook’s near miss from the baseline with 15 seconds left.

Then came Kobe’s jumper, Pau’s tip, and the Lakers victory.

We’ll have much more to come on, but until L.A. begins the Second Round against Utah on Sunday, your numbers:

8 OKC’s edge in fastbreak points (13-5), an acceptable if not ideal number for the Lakers.

18 Rebounds for Pau Gasol, none of course bigger than his massive tip in to win the game for L.A.

19 The Thunder’s edge in free throws made, thanks mostly to Kevin Durant’s 14-of-15 effort. L.A. helped make up for it by nailing 12-of-24 3-pointers, including three makes each from Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. Bryant finished with 32 points and Fisher 11.

21.7 Durant’s shooting percentage from the field (5-of-23), for which Ron Artest deserves more than his fair share of credit after an extremely impressive defensive job on KD throughout the series.

30 Bench points for L.A., led by Shannon Brown’s 11 and Lamar Odom’s 9, to outscore the Thunder’s bench 30-16.

Lakers 95, Thunder 94: Game 6 Running Diary

60316669Lakers – Thunder Gameday Page
The Lakers looked to close out Oklahoma City in Game 6 of their First Round series after taking a 3-2 lead thanks to a Game 5 romp. We were there to make sure you didn’t miss a thing:

Lakers: Sasha Vujacic (ankle)
Thunder: Byron Mullins, Mustafa Shakur

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Thunder: Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Green, Krstic

Game 6 Video Preview
Heading into Friday night’s potential series’ closing Game 6 at Oklahoma City’s Ford Center, Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons was feeling good about the team’s mindset.

“I think our guys finally got it,” said Clem. “I think they saw through the film study what they need to do when we talk about them executing. I think they were also so focused and came with a sense of urgency on Tuesday night that helped.” CLICK HERE for more.

60316665First Quarter
9:50 After three missed jumpers to start the game, the Lakers got a hanging bucket from Kobe Bryant and drop-in lay-up from Andrew Bynum, settling down a bit on offense amidst a going-absolutely-wild-on-every-shot crowd. It was loud enough to begin with before the fans were given Thunder sticks. So, yeah. Not quiet.

6:50 When the Lakers have had success in this series, they’ve erased OKC’s transition opportunities by crashing back hard on defense, and forcing the Thunder to try and execute in the half court. That recipe worked well, once again, early on as the Thunder went just 1-for-10 and failed to run out on L.A.’s misses. Meanwhile, Derek Fisher’s first 3-point attempt and two Kobe FT’s made it 13-4 L.A.

1:04 The Thunder finally began to figure out how to score in the half court, getting four consecutive hoops to take their first lead at 24-23. Bryant would counter quickly with an and-1 to put L.A. back up two, but Krstic’s and-1 closed the scoring at 27-26 for the Thunder after one. The crowd had provided quite a boost, standing for nearly the entire quarter and almost refusing to let the Thunder get down regardless of the situation.

Second Quarter
9:28 It wasn’t Kevin Durant who was hurting L.A. early. Or Jeff Green. Or James Harden off the bench … but Nenad Krstic, whose two free throws pushed his early point total to 11. Shannon Brown, meanwhile, gave some unexpected offense to the Lakers, nailing all three of his jumpers in the quarter’s first three minutes to get to seven points in putting L.A. up 35-34.

6:38 Durant started the game by missing all seven of his first shots, but a mistake by the Lakers – allowing a long rebound to go all the way out to a wide-open Durant at the top of the key – saw KD stroke a triple that countered Jordan Farmar’s at the other end, keeping L.A.’s lead at one.

3:30 Consecutive beautiful passes allowed the Lakers to go up 47-41 after Gasol found a cutting Odom for a layup, and then Bryant a cutting Spaniard for a two-handed flush. Odom’s hoop pushed L.A.’s bench total to 17 points, key against OKC’s seven.

0:04.5 Bryant hit his fifth shot (a twisting J in traffic) in 13 attempts to give the Lakers a 53-47 cushion into the half, overcoming OKC’s advantage at the foul line (17 makes to eight from L.A.) thanks in part to crisp ball movement (13 assists on 20 field goals). Overall, the Lakers had controlled the tempo quite well.

60316643Third Quarter
7:38 It was the Thunder who got the better of the early play in the third, eventually tying the game at 61 when Thabo Sefolosha got out in transition to dunk the ball a possession after Green’s driving dunk. There went the 6-point lead, in a hurry.

5:31 With the crowd continuing to stand and yell as if the final stretch of the Kentucky Derby were neck-and-neck (seriously, it was wild), L.A. turned to Kobe for offense, and No. 24 answered the call by making 4-of-5 shots, the fifth of which put L.A. up 65-63, and got him to a game-high 24 points.

2:40 An interesting, to quite interesting end of the third quarter featured these three events: A) Kobe, in Black Mamba mode, nailed three straight 3-pointers in the period and 6-of-8 shots to score 16 of his 30; B) Kobe picked up his third and fourth fouls while guarding Westbrook on the perimeter, one very questionable and the other obvious, forcing him to the bench; C) The Thunder used two Brown turnovers (in for Kobe) to score easy buckets at the other end, then got two more Durant free throws (his 11th and 12th) to tie the game before Fisher’s three-pointer ended the period with L.A. up 76-73. Twelve more minutes to play…

Fourth Quarter
11:20 Brown almost immediately atoned for those two turnovers by nailing an end-of-clock 3-pointer to push L.A.’s lead right back to six. That gave the Lakers 25 bench points, to 14 for OKC. We’d also learned that Bynum suffered a hyperextended right knee in the first half, but he was out there playing through it.

6:21 Led by Luke Walton, who contributed in a big way with a triple and a baseline turnaround (his favorite shot), the Lakers managed pushed the lead back up to seven after the Thunder had tied it up, with Kobe and Gasol resting on the bench. Westbrook did manage a three, his first in four attempts (a lot considering he shot 22 percent in the regular season), to make it 86-82 L.A. Surely the Lakers would look to Kobe to shut the door…

5:00 Next to step up for L.A. was Artest, who first nailed an open three thanks to Fisher’s kick-out pass, then hit a contested corner jumper after up-faking Green with just a second left on the shot clock to push the lead back to seven.

2:41 Ready for a complete, total turnaround from that last sentence? Here goes: OKC reeled off an 8-0 run, sparked by consecutive Lakers turnovers and Bryant’s fadeaway miss, to take an improbable 92-91 lead.

0:00.5 “With 0.5 seconds left, the Spaniard may have just put the Lakers into the 2nd round.” – Spero Dedes. L.A.’s radio play-by-play man on the call after Gasol collected his 18th rebound of the night in an incredible sequence, grabbing Kobe’s near miss on a baseline fadeaway and putting it back off glass. Wow. OKC did have a chance for a desperation heave, but Sefolosha came up short, and the Purple and Gold was in the Second Round.

The Thunder accounted incredibly well for themselves in pushing L.A. literally to the final buzzer in Game 6, but the bottom line was that the Lakers advance to meet the winner of the Utah – Denver series.

More coming soon.

Artest Remains Focused on Durant

60288704Before the First Round series between L.A. and Oklahoma City began, the most intriguing individual matchup pitted one of the league’s best scorers, Kevin Durant, against one of basketball’s preeminent 1-on-1 defenders, Ron Artest.

Fun for everyone watching, no doubt.

After five games, it’s hard to think of another situation in which two people would be so close to one another in a two-hour span, Artest so determined to intercept, impede and frustrate each and every movement of the third year forward.

While Durant’s had his moments, there’s no question that his production has been limited by Artest, who fights through every screen, tracks every cut and follows each of Durant’s body movements.

From his regular season averages, Durant’s scoring is down 5.3 points (30.1 to 24.8), his shooting percentage 9.4 percent (47.6% to 38%) and his three-point percentage 9.8 percent (36.5 to 26.7), while his turnovers are up from 3.3 to 4.2.

Durant’s best scoring game came in L.A.’s 95-92 Game 2 victory, in which he managed 32 points on 12-of-26 shooting, while he grabbed a series-high 19 rebounds in OKC’s 101-96 Game 3 win.

Meanwhile, Artest is the first to point out that he hasn’t been too worried about his offense, as witnessed by his 8.4 points on just 35 percent shooting, though he did have his best offensive game in Tuesday’s Game 5 by posting 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including two three-pointers.

Still, Artest’s focus into Game 6 in Oklahoma City, when the Lakers will try and shut the series’ door, remains on Kevin Durant.

“I’d like to slow him down for the whole series, but tonight’s a different night, so we’ll see,” said Artest.

Tune in to 710 ESPN radio for a 6:30 p.m. tip, or watch on KCAL/9 or ESPN to see for yourself.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter (@LakersReporter) for live updates throughout the game.

Video Preview: L.A. – OKC Game 6

Heading into Friday night’s potential series’ closing Game 6 at Oklahoma City’s Ford Center, Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons was feeling good about the team’s mindset.

“I think our guys finally got it,” said Cleamons. “I think they saw through the film study what they need to do when we talk about them executing. I think they were also so focused and came with a sense of urgency on Tuesday night that helped.”

Yet Cleamons is well aware of how difficult it will be to beat a back-to-the-wall Thunder team even though the Lakers did conquer hostile close-out crowds in Utah, Denver and Orlando last season.

“I think the (Thunder) players understand the importance of the game, so they’re going to be hyped up and we’re going to have to meet their energy, said Cleamons.

Cleamons, who again joined us on LakersTV (above) provided a few more details off camera:

“They know that we know where the passing opportunities are, so their defense will be on heightened alert and we may not have the same opportunities.

“But if we continue to move the ball and hit the open man, passing the ball moves more quickly than the defense can adjust.”

We’ll see how it all works out in a few hours.

Lakers Welcome Joshua Powell Jr. Into Family

Here’s one way to bring some good news into the building after a tough road trip to Oklahoma City: a healthy new baby boy carrying the name of his father, Josh Powell.

The Lakers reserve forward entered L.A.’s practice facility at around 1 p.m. after, along with his wife Lauren, witnessing the birth of Joshua Dominique Rajae Powell Jr. at 10:25 a.m. on Monday morning, April 26.

deuce_21Joshua Jr., whom Powell will call “Deuce,” is Powell’s third child, following daughters Hayden and Patience into the family. The newest Powell checked in at seven pounds, 13 ounces and 22.5 inches.

Powell said he simply couldn’t be happier to have his new happy and healthy son.

A night later, Powell added five points, a rebound and an assist in seven minutes (not to mention his usual plethora of motivational utterances to his teammates) of L.A.’s 111-87 victory in Game 5 over Oklahoma City.

Bryant’s Jersey Repeats as Most Popular

Kobe Jersey 2One title defense is out of the way for the Lakers, or more aptly for Kobe Bryant, who’s jersey ranked as the top seller for the second straight season.

Big man Pau Gasol ranked 14th on the list while total Lakers merchandise ranked as the most league’s popular for the seventh time in the last eight years.

More info from the NBA:

The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant once again tops the NBA’s list of most popular jerseys, where he has reigned as No. 1 since the start of the 2008-09 season. The list is based on sales at the NBA Store in New York City and on since the start of the 2009-10 NBA season through April 2010. Both stores are having record sales years with a combined increase of 20 percent over last year.

Thirteen players competing in the 2010 Playoffs appear on this year’s list. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James remains No. 2 and the Boston Celtics’ Kevin Garnett climbed one spot from last year to No. 3. Chicago Bulls sophomore Derrick Rose continues to make a name for himself, coming in at No. 4, while the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard rounds out the top 5. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant debuts in the top 10 for the first time, landing at No. 9, while the Denver Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony moves from No. 15 to No. 10.

High demand for Los Angeles Lakers merchandise continues, as the team tops the NBA’s list of most popular team merchandise. Lakers merchandise has been the most popular among fans for seven out of the last eight seasons. The Celtics remain in the No. 2 spot, where they’ve been since the start of the 2008-09 season. The Cleveland Cavaliers, the Chicago Bulls, and the New York Knicks round out the top 5.

Top 15 Most Popular NBA Jerseys:
1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
4. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
5. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
6. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
7. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
8. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
9. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
10. Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
11. Nate Robinson, Boston Celtics
12. David Lee, New York Knicks
13. Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers
14. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
15. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics

Top 10 Most Popular Team Merchandise:
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Boston Celtics
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
4. Chicago Bulls
5. New York Knicks
6. Denver Nuggets
7. Orlando Magic
8. Miami Heat
9. San Antonio Spurs
10. Phoenix Suns

Lakers Dominant in Game 5 Victory

60289247Heading into Tuesday evening’s pivotal Game 5 between the L.A. and Oklahoma City, the Lakers boasted an all-time record of 17-0 in Game 5′s at home.

Make that 18-0.

The Lakers looked every part the defending champions in a dominating performance that started with a 10-0 Purple and Gold burst out of the gates and finished with a 111-87 victory, the lead reaching as many as 32 late in the third quarter.

“We just got beat up,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “Every phase of the game.”

L.A. got something productive out of everybody, led by the twin towers of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, who put a giant Lakers’ sticker in the paint by going for respective 20-point, 10-rebound double-doubles to punish the Thunder all night long. While Kobe Bryant was L.A.’s straw that stirred the drink, the 7-footers were as efficient as Charles Barkley at Krispy Kreme, making a combined 18-of-26 field goals (69 percent).

“We shot the ball well and were aggressive,” said Gasol. “I think we made ourselves a big presence in the lane and were effective.”

In related news, paint points favored the Lakers 58-26.

“I was very pleased with the way Pau played tonight,” added Phil Jackson. “I thought he moved the ball and attacked in certain situations that were very important for our basketball club … ‘Drew played with better energy out there tonight as far as transition defense and the things that we have to have.”

60288457Indeed, the Lakers held the Thunder to only seven fastbreak points while scoring 12 themselves, accomplishing what assistant coach Jim Cleamson called goal “Numero uno” for the game plan.

Jackson went on to explain the primary reason the Lakers had so much success inside: much-improved ball movement, and penetration. The statistics showed what was obvious from watching, L.A. collecting 27 assists while both swinging the ball and making extra dump off passes, while Bryant in particular repeatedly penetrated the lane with the dribble to break down OKC’s D.

“I was just aggressive,” Bryant said. “Just getting in the paint, making them make decisions. When I do that, I collapse the defense so they just have to make a choice.”

Bryant’s statistical line – 13 points, seven assists, three boards, two steals in 29 minutes – doesn’t jump off the page, but as Brooks described, No. 24 dominated the game with his toughness.

“The guy was competing and set the tone defensively,” he said. “He did a good job of guarding Russell. That kind of threw us off a little bit. Kobe’s a great player. He found his way.”

‘Russell’ would be Russell Westbrook, OKC’s point guard who shot 55 percent in the first four games of the series to give the Lakers fits. As Jackson explained, Bryant volunteered for the task of guarding Westbrook after breaking down game film of Game 4, then held him to just 4-of-13 shooting.

“That’s a much higher activity level, playing the ball on every play so there’s no time off on defense,” said Jackson. “(It) didn’t get him any defensive rest. It showed me what his determination was.”

“Just being a savvy old dog, I guess,” said Bryant of staying with Westbrook.

With the victory, the Lakers earned themselves a chance at closing out the First Round series in what’s sure to be a tough Game 6 on Friday night in front of a rabid Oklahoma City fan base.

Jackson said that he’s happy the team has two days before the game, and expects the Thunder to make adjustments to counter what was so effective for the Lakers on Tuesday night.

But until Friday, your numbers:

7 Fastbreak points for the Thunder, who’d killed L.A. in transition in Games 3 and 4 in Oklahoma City. The Lakers managed 12 FB points themselves to take the category.

14 Three-pointers attempted by the Lakers, of which five went down. Ron Artest nailed two of them, both from the corner, while Jordan Farmar was 2-for-2 off the bench. Nonetheless, that L.A. took only 14 was a good sign, since it meant interior attempts were coming in droves (48 FGA’s in the paint).

27 Assists for the Lakers, who moved the ball well throughout the evening. Kobe Bryant led the way with seven dimes in three quarters, while Pau Gasol and Ron Artest added five each, Lamar Odom four off the bench.

56 Points in the paint for the Lakers, led by the impressive interior performance from Gasol (25 points) and Andrew Bynum (21 points).

69.2 Combined shooting percentage for Bynum (8-of-10) and Gasol (10-of-16).

Lakers 111, Thunder 87: Game 5 Running Diary

60288567Lakers – Thunder Gameday Page
The Lakers looked to rebound from consecutive losses in Oklahoma City in Game 5 of their First Round series. We were there to make sure you didn’t miss a thing:

Lakers: Sasha Vujacic (ankle)
Thunder: Kyle Weaver, Mustafa Shakur

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Thunder: Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Green, Krstic

Game 5 Video Preview
Assistant coach Jim Cleamons joined us to detail how the Lakers’ can improve their transition defense, how to alleviate the discrepancy at the foul line, how to better involve their bigs and what he expects from Kobe Bryant as L.A. tries to defend its home court on Tuesday evening. CLICK HERE to watch.

60289019First Quarter
8:22 Scoring the first ten points of the ball game wasn’t a bad way to calm some nerves in Los Angeles into the pivotal Game 5. With the Thunder struggling with L.A.’s halfcourt defense – as they had all series – the Lakers took advantage of an 0-for-9 OKC start by going inside to Andrew Bynum (two dunks and a layup) and Pau Gasol (a baseline lefty hook), not to mention Derek Fisher’s driving layup. No wonder Phil Jackson said he “had a good feeling” about the game.

6:25 The Purple and Gold floodgates continued to open wide as Gasol nailed a jumper to make it a 14-2 ball game. Bynum, meanwhile, had added another dunk to reach 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting. L.A. had barely missed from the field, scoring as easily as Josh Powell creates pregame hand shakes.

0:12.2 In his pregame media session, Phil Jackson suggested that the coaches didn’t want Ron Artest shooting corner threes, as they can leave the team susceptible to transition opportunities the other way, yet thought Artest may take one anyway … and that he did. In his defense, the shot clock was nearly expired when Ron Ron buried a corner three to put the Lakers up 31-16. L.A. shot 67 percent in the quarter, and held the Thunder to just 26.1 percent.

Second Quarter
9:34 With the starters playing so well, L.A.’s bench merely needed to keep things even, which would have been more easily accomplished had Bynum and Jordan Farmar not both missed 1-of-2 free throws. Still, those two points were one more than the Thunder had managed, making it a 16-point lead. OKC was still looking like “The Hills” compared to L.A.’s “The Wire” in terms of plot development.

5:49 How good was Bynum in the opening stanza? Well, of his 5-of-5 field goals, four were authoritative dunks, including a big hammer over Serge Ibaka and Nenad Krstic that put the Lakers up 39-21. In related news, Bynum is not short. All of his dunks, of course, came courtesy of some very good passing resulting both from ball movement and Kobe’s dribble penetration.

2:40 The Lakers continued to look like nothing less than the defending champions with two more great plays: 1) Artest took the space afforded him to drive hard to the hoop, and rose up to finish a powerful right-handed dunk in traffic (insert Marv Albert voice: the FACIAL!); 2) Lamar Odom rose to drain a 3-pointer that answered Kevin Durant’s first in four attempts, keeping L.A. up 18 points (48-30) as the crowd again rose to its feat. Speaking of that ball movement … Gasol and Artest had four assists each, while Bryant had five.

60288218Third Quarter
10:33: Bynum’s presence remained imposing to open the third, as he cleaned up Bryant’s near miss with an offensive rebound and subsequent free throws. L.A.’s energy level had dropped off not a bit from the first quarter. Meanwhile, we’d be remiss not to mention the job Bryant was doing defensively on Russell Westbrook, who made just 2-of-8 shots in the first half. (Editor’s note: we’d later learn that Bryant volunteered to defend Westbrook when the team broke down Game 4 game film. Westbrook finished 4-of-13 from the field and 5-of-8 from the line for 15 points after shooting 55 percent in Games 1-4.)

5:39 Starting to sound like a broken record here, but the Lakers simply continued to score very easily in the paint, getting Bynum’s fifth dunk and a Gasol tip-in to burst to a 31-point lead at 75-44. Getting boring yet? Gasol reached 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting, and Bynum wasn’t far behind in getting to 19 himself on 7-of-8 field goals with 5-of-7 free throws. The points in the paint category was thus an absurd 46-12 edge for L.A.

0:07.5 Durant’s 3-pointer was quietly OKC’s fifth make of the quarter, helping them to 26 points, but they were like fish trying to avoid water on defense, allowing 33 more points to a clicking-in-every-way Lakers’ offense. Gasol led the way with 15 points in the period, while Bynum added eight.

Fourth Quarter
6:40 Bynum remained in with four bench players (Adam Morrison, Farmar, Brown and Josh Powell) and promptly rewarded Powell for running the floor be dishing off for J-Peezy’s dunk. That one was for Deuce (Joshua Jr.), Powell’s brand new baby boy, born on Monday morning.

3:00 Morrison put his own imprint on the game by refusing to back away from Etan Thomas after fouling the OKC backup center hard in the lane, which drew an approving nod from Kobe on the bench (and a laugh from Luke Walton).

1:00 The game’s final points came from OKC’s James Harden, who hit an uncontested corner three in what finished as a 111-87 win for L.A. An extremely impressive all-around effort, to be sure, led by the 20-10 double-doubles from Gasol (25 and 11 with five assists) and Bynum (21 and 11).

Up next is Friday evening’s Game 6 in Oklahoma City. Stay tuned for a full postgame wrap and video from L.A.’s victory on

Video Preview: L.A. – OKC Game 5

Not much has changed in the Lakers’ game plan heading into Game 5 against Oklahoma City.

Words like “transition,” “free throws” and “aggressiveness” are still common threads that the Lakers’ coaches suggested simply need to be better executed.

With that in mind, assistant coach Jim Cleamons joined us to detail how the Lakers’ can improve their transition defense, how to improve the discrepancy at the foul line, how to better involve their bigs and what he expects from Kobe Bryant as L.A. tries to defend its home court on Tuesday evening.