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