You think the Lakers have learned that they do better when it’s not a one-man show? The new-look Los Angeles offense — let Kobe run things, but insist that he pass if he’s double-teamed — worked almost to perfection today, and it doomed the Thunder, who’d played the Lakers more or less even through three and a half quarters but could not keep up the rest of the way. The final was 105-96, and it would have been much worse if Dwight Howard could actually hit free throws.
Seriously. The Lakers actually shot better from the floor (55.4 percent) than they did from the stripe (55.2). Still, D12 came up with eight points and ten rebounds, and half a dozen of his teammates hit double figures. Kobe Bryant was downright three-dimensional, coming up one rebound short of a triple-double (21 points, 14 assists, nine boards). What was most remarkable, though, was that Pau Gasol’s recent demotion to the bench — Earl Clark has been starting at power forward — didn’t make any difference to Gasol’s line: 16 points in 35 minutes. (Clark scored 11 in slightly less than 23.)
For a moment there, I thought Russell Westbrook was going to land a double-double without ever hitting any shots: he went one-for-everything early on and couldn’t buy a bucket to save his life, despite getting some good looks. He wound up, like Kobe, a board short of a triple-double; unlike Kobe, Westbrook shot a feeble 6-22 for 17 points. Kevin Durant did what he could to take up the slack, snagging a solid 35 for the day, but there was entirely too much “If all else fails, hoist a trey,” since those treys were falling everywhere except through the net. OKC did manage to hold on to the ball most of the time, logging only nine turnovers, but too often they didn’t do anything with it after not losing it.
It will take a few days to live this down, and guess who’s coming to town on Thursday? Yep: the Grizzlies. There’s a distinct lack of gimmes in this part of the schedule.