No one was surprised that the Oklahoma City Thunder won Game 1, at home against the Los Angeles Lakers. But by 29 points? Without anything too special from Durant, Westbrook, Harden or anyone else? Is that really the gulf between the two teams.
The 119-90 win by Oklahoma City Thunder came without anyone really pulling off a special performance. Kevin Durant scored 25, adding 8 rebounds and 4 assists. He shot well, 8-15 from the field. Russell Westrbook led the way with 27 points and 9 assists, shooting 10-15 from the field. James Harden, coming back to make Metta World Peace suffer, added 17 off the bench. That’s 69 points for their big three. Good, just above their regular season average of 68.4 points combined.
So it wasn’t it the scoring. What was it? It has to show up somehwhere on the stat sheet. The defense? Some. The Lakers scored 90 points while shooting 43.2% from the field. Kobe Bryant scored 20 points, but had a bat 7-18 night. Pau Gasol contributed only 10 points and 7 rebounds, while Andrew Bynum did impress with 20 points and 14 rebounds, but those were garbage time numbers. It felt like the entire second half was garbage time.
Ramon Sessions scoring only 2 points gives us a hint as to how bad the Lakers have been. While not one of the premier point guard in the league, Sessions was definitely an upgrade from the again Derek Fisher. Sessions finished the game with 2 points, going 1-7 from the field. Derek Fisher, coming off the bench for the Thudner, wasn’t much better, with 5 points. But guess who’s more vital to their team? The Thunder can live with Fisher settling for one or two shots a night. The Lakers must have Sessions scoring in double figures.
The Lakers just couldn’t keep up. Maybe it was the fatigue of the 7 games series against the Nuggets, while the Thunder had ample rest thank to an impressive sweep against the 2011 NBA Champions, the Dallas Mavericks. The Lakers didn’t score points in the fast break, losing 20-0 in that category.
They turned the ball over 15 times and had eight more points scored on them off blocks. The Lakers just couldn’t guard them tonight, even with Metta World Peace, who couldn’t emulate his regular season defensive success against Durant. Durant shot 41.7% against MWP in the regular season.
How was World Peace in his first game against the Thunder since his elbow to the head of James Harden? Individually, he wasn’t bad, scoring 12 points. But there was no energy, no aggressiveness from the Lakers, on both ends of the floor. They just got trampled on and run off the court by a better, younger and hungrier team.
The Thunder just couldn’t get anything to go wrong for them. They led the NBA in turnovers during the regular season and average 12.8 during the playoffs. But they create more than they lose, as the Lakers found out. They score more points than anyone (103.6), making 48.1% of their shots, averaging a playoff high 1.33 points per shot. The Lakers are way behind in all three categories.
If Mike Brown can’t find a way to slow things down, this will be a short series. He did give his best players fourth quarter breathers, hoping they’ll be coming with re-filled tanks on Wednesday. It was the fifth worst loss for the franchise in postseason history. The last time they lost by this much was in 1998 to the Utah Jazz. Bryant was there. It ended in a sweep.