The Oklahoma City Thunder without Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant have no business beating anyone, but the Los Angeles Lakers take pride in their losing ways, or at least their head coach Byron Scott and front office do, once again letting a great game from Jeremy Lin go down in a wasteful mismanagement of playing time and substitutions.
When Lin got back into the game in the third quarter, the Thunder had already opened up a 10 point lead. Lin played well in the finale, not getting benched, but it wasn’t enough with the Lakers playing terrible defense, nothing new, despite Scott being a “defensive expert”, something only he actually believes in. Lin finished with 20 points and 8 assists, getting most of his points by attacking the basket, but it would have been sweeter had it been a win.
The Thunder have now won for only the fifth time this season without their two stars. All five wins have come against the poorest of the bunch throughout this season: Nuggets, Kings, Celtics, Jazz and now the Lakers. The Thunder outscored the Lakers by 8 points on transition but more importantly took advantage of their opportunities with 10-of-14 from the field on those instances, while the Lakers shot just 8-of-19 from the field and 25% from beyond the arc on transition offense.
As always with Scott, he stuck to his guns a bit too much – early and later in the game. Both Wayne Ellington and Jordan Clarkson were having a bad time and combined to shoot just 10-of-29 from the field, although Lin was pretty much the only available guard for the Lakers off the bench. That’s the only reason he played for 32 minutes, a number that should be automatic for him on any given night when playing for the Lakers, but we all know the reasons why it’s not happening.
In short? Good game for Lin and maybe his confidence, bad for the Lakers for all the usual reasons. It’s hard finding something refreshing and new to say about team steered into an iceberg, with the people at the helm hoping for a crash that’s as messy as possible, hoping it results in a higher draft pick. As hard as Lin and some others are trying, Scott can feel safe and happy that his abysmal job at head coaching the team is producing the required results.