Lakers vs. Thunder: Why LA Will Pull Upset in Oklahoma City

Cole DolanCorrespondent IIIMay 16, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 12:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts late in the fourth quarter while taking on the Denver Nuggets in Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2012 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers head into Game 2 with a one game deficit against series foe Oklahoma City.   

But it feels like a lot more.

To say that Game 1 was ugly would be an understatement. It just wasn't Lakers basketball. And, frankly, it wasn't really Oklahoma City basketball either.

The Thunder shot 53 percent from the field and only turned the ball over four times.  That's coming off a regular season with an average of 16.3 turnovers a game.  In fact, the Thunder's assist to turnover ratio was the worst in the league at 1.13 per game.

A performance of 20 assists and only four turnovers simply can't be expected again.  The Thunder were just hot, and the Lakers didn't stand a chance.

Just look at Russell Westbrook, the biggest turnover villain for the Thunder. He finished with only one turnover, while dishing out nine assists.  Even Thunder fans can't reasonably expect him to keep that up.

If that doesn't convince you then look at how the Thunder played the Lakers in the regular season.  Oklahoma City ranked T-22 in turnovers against Los Angeles at 13.0 per game.

The Game 1 anomaly doesn't end there.

As was mentioned before, the Thunder shot 53.3 percent from the field, including 41.2 percent from long range.  That's also well above their season average (47.1/35,8 percent) and their averages against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round (46.7/38.1 percent.)

It's not just that the Thunder supposedly have the Lakers' number this year either.

Kobe Bryant and company had a solid shooting night, especially the 43.8 percent from long range. The Lakers also managed to out-rebound the Thunder despite a sub-par game from forward Pau Gasol.  In the end, they just could not keep up with the Thunder.

Not many teams could have.

Game 1 left the Lakers' pride wounded, while leaving Oklahoma City confident heading into Game 2.

Too confident?

If the Thunder expect to have another close to perfect game in Game 2, they have another thing coming.  Scott Brooks' team coasted in Game 1, but the Lakers are just as hungry and have been pushed further into a corner heading into tonight's matchup.

Not slighting Kevin Durant or Oklahoma City, but Kobe Bryant will have his team ready.  Lose Game 2, and winning the series will be just a dream.

To Oklahoma City's credit, winning in the Chesapeake Energy Arena as a visitor is easier said then done. 

If the Lakers want a shot, shutting down Westbrook is a must. Ramon Sessions doesn't cut it, and we all saw Westbrook abuse Steve Blake.

The Lakers have got to force Durant or Westbrook to try to beat them, not both.  The tandem scored at will in Game 1 and completely dominated.

But Robin isn't the same without Batman.

Metta World Peace needs to do whatever possible to slow Kevin Durant, as long as it's not a Ron Artest elbow.

Lakers head coach Mike Brown will find a way to split up the Oklahoma City duo, and Oklahoma City won't be able to duplicate their near perfect performance from Game 1.  It's going to be a much closer fight, a battle of two heavyweights.  Expect this one to go into the fourth quarter with both teams having the opportunity to come out with a win.

A buzzer beater from Kobe to take Game 2 and silence the rowdy Oklahoma City fans?

There would be nothing sweeter for fans of the purple and gold.