For a brief moment, the Los Angeles Lakers had the feeling they were going to end their home losing streak and beat the Oklahoma City Thunder. But then Kevin Durant woke up and put in another MVP performance, saving his best for the final quarter.
The Thunder beat the Lakers 107-103, making it a 7th consecutive home loss for the Lakers, reaching new lows with every game that goes by. Kevin Durant scored 19 of his points in the fourth quarter, while the Lakers had only 21 in the fourth. Durant finished with 43 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. It’s his 8th 40-point game this season, and he’s the first player to enter the All-Star break averaging 31.5 points or better since Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson doing it in 2005-2006.
Duran’ts stat lines continue to impress, showing how much more of just a shooter he is at the moment, and having the ball go through him at every possession helps a lot. Durant is just the 4th player in the last 25 seasons to reach those numbers in a single game, with LeBron James, Hakeem Olajuwon and Larry Bird coming before him over that time.
This whole group, they are resilient. We persevered through everything and just stayed together. We had faith no matter what. We are looking forward to having Russell back and make it seem less of a transition for him. He just continued to play the game and do what he has done all season. He is one of the best I have seen in terms if really just playing through anything and everything.
There’s something that is definitely amusing about the Thunder beating the Lakers and speaking or perseverance. The Lakers are tied for the worst team in the Western conference, and if it wasn’t for Kevin Durant trying to do too much on his own in the first half, things wouldn’t have gotten that complicated. On the other hand, if it wasn’t for Durant suddenly shooting his way out of trouble in the second half, it would have been one embarrassing loss.
The Thunder didn’t shoot all that well (44.3%) but they had 14 steals, forcing 22 turnovers. They scored 26 points off those turnovers, and had 44 points in the paint, finding it quite easy, like anyone facing the Lakers this season, to get close and score, while the Lakers don’t have much to use as defense for these kind of situations.
Maybe the most remarkable thing about the Thunder over the last six-seven weeks is their focus and ability to wake up at the right moment if a game hasn’t gone well for them right from the start. It’s easy to give up and let certain games slip away – one loss doesn’t really matter. But there’s an attitude and ambition this season with the Thunder that goes beyond the numbers that also suggest they’re the best team in the NBA, even without Russell Westbrook suiting up for games.
I thought the effort was terrific. They battled the whole game. We ran into a little rough spot there in the start of the fourth. They got into us and we turned it over way too many times. It’s been a crazy year, and there will still be some turbulence ahead. But I think during these next 29 games we will get honed in and try to get better. The thing I hope is that with all the effort, they get rewarded for it.
If you haven’t guesses, that was Mike D’Antoni speaking. After all, what is there for the Lakers to feel good about? Only some individual performances, like Chris Kaman with a 19-10-6 line or Kendall Marshall with 14 points, 17 assists and 7 rebounds. Actually being happy about wins and celebrating something isn’t something that happens too often for this team.