What happens to a team missing three starters? Yeah, pretty much. Roberson we knew about, Carmelo we saw go down in the Golden State game, but what the heck happened to Russell Westbrook? Sprained and not available. Paul George and Steven Adams are indeed great players, but they can’t carry a team alone; they were the only two Thundermen in double figures. Raymond Felton started at the point, and he did acceptably; Patrick Patterson and Josh Huestis started, but neither of them managed to make a shot all night. Meanwhile, four of the five L.A. starters finished with double figures, and Brook Lopez missed by only one point. So the outcome was probably predictable: the Lakers, who edged the Thunder last Sunday in Oklahoma City, utterly thrashed them in Los Angeles, 106-81, evening the season series at 2-2.
How desperate were the Thunder? They called on Number 35. Yep. P. J. Dozier, on one of those two-way contracts where he spends most of his time in the G-League, was activated for this game, and made one of two shots in two minutes. OKC overall didn’t shoot anywhere near 50 percent. Or even 40 percent. At 32-90, they barely broke 35 percent. PG-13, with 29 points, made five of 12 treys, but the rest of the squad was, um, 3-22. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope didn’t have to work that hard to come up with 20 points to lead the Lakers. If there’s anything to celebrate, apart from L.A.’s metamorphosis from definite cellar-dweller to possible playoff contender, it’s the idea that nobody was glued to the bench: everyone active on both sides got at least some playing time.
Going home, the Thunder will face the Grizzlies on Sunday and the Cavs on Tuesday; they then have to fly to Memphis on Wednesday, and then comes the All-Star break. Maybe two of those three guys will be back.