rolling Friday against the . (Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY — About an hour and a half before tipoff, Scott Brooks was asked a question about the Lakers being 1-7 when scores 30 or more points.
“I didn’t know that stat was out there but I’m going to put that on the board,” Brooks said. “Give him 32 tonight.”
Well, the Thunder gave him 35.
And the Lakers are now 1-8 when Kobe scores 30 or more.
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With the Lakers’ disappointing 9-11 start, the focus has been centered around what they’re not doing. What their issues are, why they aren’t performing up to their standard. Following this most recent loss, a pretty comfortable 114-108 one by the Thunder, there will be the usual search for answers.
But Friday, the difference between the Thunder and Lakerclub.The Brazilian switched for Chelsea for North London this past summer in one of most surprising moves of the window.And Silva says his countrymen can handle expectations at the Emirates.He said: “It’s not so easy to move from one big club to anots was pretty clear: Oklahoma City has and . The Lakers do not.
Westbrook’s first half was one of the more explosive performances you’re going to see this season. He scored 27 on 10-of-16 shooting, hit a career-high five 3-pointers and punctuated is all with a devilish and-1 trey late in the first half. It sparked OKC to a 67-53 first half margin and sent a pretty clear message that this wasn’t likely to be the game the Lakers use to get back on track.
“I was able to make some shots early and just kept shooting,” Westbrook said.
Said Mike D’Antoni: “A lot of [the game] was Westbrook. He just went crazy on us.”
Thing was, Westbrook cooled considerably in the second half. He started 0-of-7, miss two free throws and didn’t score any points until the fourth quarter. For some teams, maybe that’s concerning, maybe that contributes to them losing a lead. Instead, the Thunder just built on it. Because instead of it being Westbrook, it was Durant’s turn.
“[Westbrook] came out tonight in the first half and was on fire and it opened it up for everyone else in the second and we were able to cruise on for a good win,” Durant said.
Durant scored 36 on 10-of-19 shooting and closed down any opportunity the Lakers had of coming back. A couple 3s, a couple mid-range pullups, a couple attacks at the rim — there was just no chance for L.A. to lean on Bryant or anyone else to rhich competition to prioritise next week.Mourinho will tell the club’s board to choose between Burnley on Saturday and RB Leipzig next week after his side were knocked out of the FA Cup on Wednesday night, reports the BBC.Spurs crashed out of the domeally get the Lakers close enough to challenge.
“It was fun. It’s always fun to beat the Lakers. They’re a tough team,” Durant said.
But there is that lingering thought, what almost feels like a given, that the Lakers are going to put something together at some point. They aren’t healthy now without and and they are clearly sorting through some issues. The Thunder are the West’s top dogs — defending conference champs and owners of the best record — but just because they have topped the Lakers eight of the last 10 times, including a five-game gentleman’s sweep last postseason, OKC isn’t crossing L.A. off.
“They’re a really good team,” Durant said. “They might not have Pau Gasol or Steve Nash, but they still have Kobe Bryant and out there.”
Said Brooks: “We all know the Lakers are one of the best teams. They don’t have the record right now, but they will. They’re going to get some guys healthy and Callum Hudson-Odoi to continue improving after his impressive performance against Nottingham Forest on Sunday.The 19-year-old has faced criticism for some lacklustre performances this season after returning from an Achilles injury in September.He re they’re going to get some rhythm, but they have the best center in basketball and they have one of the best players ever. Steve Nash will come back and [Mike] D’Antoni will continue to get that team better.”
The Lakers look different than the team that lost in five games to Thunder last May. But this result felt awfully similar. Kobe was asked after the game if this Laker team has changed since their last trip to OKC.
“Yeah it doesn’t seem like it,” he said.
There was a general feeling that even with the Lakers not being at full strength, Friday’s game in OKC was a chance to make a positive statement about being a legit contender to the Thunder. And like Brooks and Durant said, that still very well may hold to be true.
But even with the offseason shakeups, the changes in personnel, the subtractions, the additions, the starpower and all that summer buzz, it was pretty clear Friday: The Thunder are still the superior team. At least until proven otherwise.Read more →