Game Report: Thunder defeat Lakers 114 – 108
But on the other hand they battled hard tonight, and there were some positives.
Even when they were down by 19 with 7:40 to go, I wasn’t too upset – Durant and Westbrook were simply shooting the lights out. But then the Lakers made a spirited comeback, getting as close as four points, before eventually losing by six.
The Lakers were only outscored in one quarter tonight – the second – but they were outscored by 15 in that quarter, and it was too much of a deficit to overcome against a talented, young, and healthy team.
The Thunder were led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who scored 36 and 33 respectively. Kobe Bryant replied with 35 for the Lakers, and Dwight Howard added 23 points and 18 grabbed rebounds, for his fourth 15/15 game of the season.
Because the game wasn’t close until the very end, there was no question of the Thunder employing the “Slight-A-Dwight,” a strategy teams have been using that involves disrespecting Howard’s free-throw shooting ability by intentionally fouling him. But if the game had been close earlier then the Thunder may have decided against it anyway, as Dwight shot a respectable 5-7 (71%) from the line on the night.
Although it was a close game, only one Laker ended up being above water in plus-minus, and that was Jodie Meeks, who finished an impressive +11, to go along with a tidy 17 points in just under 20 minutes.
All in all, this was not a bad loss. I continue to think that the Lakers will play .500 basketball until Steve Nash returns, and will continue to play .500 ball for the first two or three weeks after his return.
But then they’ll begin to dominate. I can’t wait for the Lakers to play the Thunder with both teams at full strength.
Lakers Player of the Game
Although Dwight Howard had a big night, I’m giving Player of the Game to Kobe Bryant. Yes, the Lakers moved to 1-8 in games where Kobe scores 30 or more points, but Kobe played very well tonight. He scored his 35 points fairly efficiently (11-24 FG, 4-5 3PT, 9-10 FT), and he led the team in assists with seven (starting point guard Chris Duhon had only three assists in 36 minutes). Kobe’s 24 field goal attempts represented 29% of the Lakers field goal attempts – a bit high, perhaps, but not too bad.
Tonight’s Top Two Tweets in my Twitter Feed
“Lakers lose 114-108. They never stopped fighting, though. Lakers were down by as many as 19 in the fourth and cut it to four at one point.” – @LakerHolicz, post-game tweet
“Watching from the bench, @SteveNash & @paugasol have to be wondering how they might have affected this game.” – @LakersReporter, late-game tweet
Sunday, December 9 vs. the Utah Jazz, 6:30 p.m. PST