In a Chesapeake Energy Arena stadium filled to the brim with screaming Oklahoma City Thunder fans, seemingly all of them wearing blue “ONE TEAM” shirts, the Los Angeles Lakers left Monday night seeing red.
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Co. ran all over the Lakers, similar in fashion to a group of young kids running away from their parents at a park on the first day of spring.
The Lakers looked too old, too slow and altogether too tired to contain the energetic onslaught provided them by Durant, Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and the sixth man of the year, James Harden, all of whom are 23 years old or younger.
It’d be one thing if the Lakers could play defense well enough to force the Thunder to miss a few shots. Which sounds easy enough for a team that has dual-threat 7-footers in Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, right?
Not so much. With the Thunder shooting 53 percent for the game, and often going on streaks where they couldn’t miss, as well as creating 15 Lakers turnovers (to their incredibly low 4 turnovers), it seemed there was nothing that could be done. The Thunder had 5 more blocks than the Lakers, 12 more steals, 11 less turnovers, and 13 more fast-break points.
The Thunder put up 98 points before the fourth quarter had even started. The final score: 119-90 in favor of the Thunder, who in the process handed the Lakers their worst loss of the season.
They scored 39 in the third quarter alone—which translates to a cool 156 points in a game. As a team they had shot .581 from the floor and were 5-of-11 from three-point range going into the final quarter.
At one point in the game the Thunder led by 35 points. Had Scott Brooks not pulled the parachute and sat Durant and Westbrook for the majority of the fourth quarter—the lead could have easily hit the half-century mark.
If this were elementary-school basketball, the ref would have called the mercy rule.
The Thunder executed the pick-and-roll flawlessly, created dribble penetration and finished their layups with ease. When that wasn’t in the cards, they nailed down the 10+ foot jump shots in a manner that suggested there was no one else on the court.
The entire game was a barrage of Westbrook and Durant baskets. An onslaught of quick jumpers, easy turnovers and converted opportunities.
Westbrook finished with 27 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists. Durant ended the game with 25 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Harden came off the bench and added that physical presence while netting 17 points.
Just about the only thing the Lakers had going for them on the night, other than Metta World Peace not repeating his crushing elbow dance with James Harden's head, (Metta was booed heartily just about every time he touched the ball, and left questionably early in the fourth) was the size advantage, and the rebounds that came as a result— they barely out-rebounded the Thunder 43-41.
Andrew Bynum, who is one year the senior of much of the young Thunder players, finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds and 2 blocks. He sat much of the fourth quarter, as did Kobe Bryant, who went to the hotel tonight having scored 20 with 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
Bynum had a solid day, opening the game strong, which was supposed to be exactly what the Lakers needed to happen for there to be any chance of them limping out of Oklahoma with a W, but even so, the Lakers didn’t stand a chance.
Devin Ebanks was thrown out following a confrontation and a double technical foul at the end of the fourth quarter, hitting a chair and taking his shirt off on the walk to the locker room, seeming to take a page out of Bynum’s last-season Game 4 antics during their series sweep/loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Look to go back to Oklahoma on Wednesday and find the Lakers in a drastic "must get younger legs" situation, or at least a "must find a way to make the Thunder miss baskets" situation.
Otherwise, this series will be over quicker than it took Mitch Kupchak to ship Lamar Odom out of Los Angeles, and the Lakers will find themselves at home sinking into plush leather couches by this time next week.