Even though the Oklahoma City Thunder have injuries, there’s no reason for them to look this bad against the Los Angeles Lakers, the worst team in the West. While Kevin Duratn & Russell Westbrook were putting on an offensive horror show, Jodie Meeks made a laughing stokc of a defense that’s supposed to be one of the best in the league.
But missing Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha hasn’t been met with the best of coaching decision by Scott Brooks, seeing his team fall to second in the Western conference, and having to watch their backs with the surging Clippers and especially Rockets. Using Steven Adams in the lineup is understandable, but not filling in the Sefolosha spot with Reggie Jackson or Jeremy Lamb? Weird.
The Lakers shocked the Thunder with a 114-110 win, and something of a historic game from Jodie Meeks. He scored 42 points, becoming the first Lakers guard not named Kobe Bryant with 40 or more points in over 20 years. Kevin Durant had a triple double, scoring 27 to go with his 10 rebounds and 12 assists; Russell Westbrook had 20 points with 8 assists, but also 8 turnovers and the awful shooting line of 7-fo-23, while Durant’s 8-of-19 wasn’t much better.
The great but also misleading thing about the Thunder is their ability to come back from almost any deficit by simply going to their two stars, and watching them go to work. It has nothing to do with basketball schemes and systems. Brooks doens’t coach a complicated offense, and sometimes no offense at all. It might sound a bit simplistic – give the ball to Kevin or Russell, but that’s the way it works for the Thunder, usually relying on a much better defense than they’ve been showcasing since Perkins’ injury.
They managed to come back from 14 points, but Russell Westbrook, who was an awful 1-of-11 on halfcourt offense, ruined another possession by taking a contested, terrible 3 point shot that touched nothing but air. Among guards with at least 500 half-court plays this season, Westbrook ranks 41st out of 61 players in field goal percentage, shooting 39.9%. The most incredible thing about Westbrook? He really doesn’t care about bad games, which is the sign of arrogance, but plenty of great players quickly put the bad games behind them.
I missed some shots, but I do not think the game is all about shooting. When a player who takes 23 shots has this to say after a loss that is heavily on his shoulders, you have to wonder how seriously he takes these interviews, and what does he think about fans who have to listen/read his remarks.
Pau Gasol added 20 points, as the Lakers simply turned it into their kind of game. They aren’t a very good team and can’t guard anyone, but there’s some thought behind their offense and how it’s set up, the complete opposite of the Thunder. Oklahoma City got carried into that kind of game hoping their two top guns will come out firing and scorching, but were left with a point guard who forgets there’s a better player next to him who should touch the ball more.
For the Lakers, this is a great way to get over the humiliating loss to the Clippers. For the Thunder, it’s a reason to consider once again what’s the right way for this team to win a championship, and whether or not this blind faith in one on one basketball is the way to go.