The Oklahoma City Thunder may have defeated the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, but it was far from an easy win for the team with the best record in the entire league.
In fact, the Thunder never led in the game until late in the fourth and were actually trailing the Lakers 82-72 after three quarters.
This was partly due to Kevin Durant’s less-than-efficient night from the field, and the NBA’s leading scorer later praised Wesley Johnson for the job he did on him defensively, according to NBC Los Angeles’ Shahan Ahmed.
Sure, Durant finished the night with an impressive line – 43 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals – though he went just 14-of-33 from the field and also turned the ball over six times. Some of KD’s struggles can be attributed to Johnson’s work on the defensive end, and that’s good news for Laker fans.
When the Lakers signed Johnson this past summer, they hoped the 26-year-old would be able to develop into a Trevor Ariza or Michael Cooper-type player. Both of those guys are obviously partly known for their defensive capabilities. Johnson still has a long way to go before he can be in the same conversation as those two players, though slowing down the Durantula is obviously a good place to start.
You always know you did something right when one of the best players in the world is praising your defensive effort.
Hopefully this is just the beginning for Johnson, who was also a reliable force on the offensive end as he scored 19 points on just 13 shots in the 107-103 loss.