Checking in with 10:45 left in the 2nd quarter in the OKC and Lakers game 5…one thing I already like, the OKC ball movement is getting better….James Harden is a tremendous asset to the OKC, his versatility makes OKC THAT much better. I like what OKC is doing on the offensive end, they are attacking the paint knowing Andrew Bynum already picked up two early fouls. 32-32 at this point I love the pace of this game right now. OKC’s favour right now..My one concern is still Russell Westbrook. If you remember game one where he achieved 27 points on 10/15 shooting and 7 assists or something, he was reading the right reads off the high screen and rolls and the side pick and rolls. There were three Lakers crowded around him….luckily Kevin Durant bailed Westbrook’s mistake out by converting on a tough shot off the glass for 2. Tonight so far as I have seen, Russell has taken tough pull up jumpers off the bounce that are “off-balance”. I’ll criticize Westbrook a little bit later. Meanwhile D-fish for 3…and Bynum picking up his third…———–It’s halftime right now. Quite an entertaining first half….there was NO way that that defensive play from World Peace on Thabo Sefolosha was a flagrant. Clearly Metta World Peace was making a play for the ball and clearly got all ball despite slight contact with Thabo. Nonetheless, that was a horrible call by the referrees and should be rescinded in the future (not like that’s going to help the lakers much). So far OKC is doing ok on the offensive end.Maybe it’s a tendency for the OKC to fall for pump fakes: Sefolosha, Russell, Ibaka…you just HAVE to stay down on those pump fakes. ———–They are doing a great job of making Pau Gasol catch the basketball all the way out at the three point line, making him shoot tough shots from about 5-7 feet. They should continue to do that to him and Bynum as well and make them catch the rock far out. In Bynum’s case, he will probably ask for a repost and try to get deeper, but I don’t see him being AS aggressive in that repost because he is reluctant to pick up that 5th foul. Pau Gasol has got to demand aggressively for a repost. If he picks up an offensive foul i.e. hooking the defensive player or what have you, so be it. But he is absolutely not being aggressive enough which is the reason the Lakers are not up much at this point. The only individual carrying them at this point is Kobe Bryant hitting tremendously tough fadeaway jumpers ala Dirk Nowitzki.On the OKC side, despite Kevin Durant getting the shots he wants, you see Kobe denying him to get the basketball until Kevin is at the far wing at the three point line. He either needs to curl off screens of some sort and flare the screens or something. On the other hand, Russell with that and one on the breakaway after Sessions foul, as a defensive player, you either make your mind up and foul the guy by bear hugging him, or you just let him go. You absolutely DO NOT hit Russell with a tacky foul and allow him a chance to attempt a shot, which he makes. This play already has the OKC crowd going as well as the shift in momentum for the Thunder and that is the last thing the Los Angeles Lakers want to see as they face an elimination game in the Western conference semi-finals. The OKC thunder are much more active in rebounding and contesting the Lakers. Meanwhile, you see in the second half on Westbrook’s game, he’s letting things come to him. Where did he get his shots? Taking advantage of his size and athleticism against Ramon Sessions with that and-1 bankshot moments ago. As well, where did he do that pull up, size up mid range 17-18 foot jumpshot? Against a switch on Gasol. Gasol, reluctant to step out too far outside of the paint in order to protect it, he already has a disadvantage against the more quicker, explosive, and athletic guard, Russell Westbrook. Russell had at least 3 feet of separation against him where he got that soft mid range jumper to go in. ————-4th quarter underway….Thunder up 11 right now….It’s just another one of them days for the OKC Thunder. The Lakers at this point are quite flustered on offense, on defense. As the Thunder’s confidence skyrockets, the Lakers’ esteem plummets. Another charge, another turnover. I don’t understand why Steve Blake didn’t even TRY to get the ball to Bynum when Collison was clearly overplaying and trying to front him. With that said, you need to run those fundamental plays to get the ball into the player who is being fronted. At this stage, they should go back to Gasol or Bynum. I know Kobe has a strong will, but he’s got to run plays for the two 7-footers. Kobe is taking tough tough shots except for that uncontested dunk streaking from the left side moments ago.————-106-90 elimination game win for the OKC Thunder against the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western conference semifinals. Congratulations to this young team. 46.7% field goal shooting for the Thunder while the Lakers shot a dismal 45.3%. They lost the battle down low on the glass 51-35 and gave up 14 offensive rebounds versus 3 of their own.Andrew Bynum being in foul trouble literally the whole game hence being reluctant to be as aggressive in boxing out to clean up on the glass. But he isn’t the only individual who can rebound on the team…right? Where is Pau Gasol? He only picked up a total of one foul! Hence that old phrase “whichever team wins the glass wins the game”. And now we can see that paying off for the Oklahoma City Thunder as they move on to the Western conference finals to face the San Antonio Spurs. ————–I can criticize the Lakers’ execution as much as I want. But the game is over and nothing I do or say will really change how the Lakers play this season and the next. ————–As the Lakers season comes to an end, there needs to be severe critical decisions as far as how the Lakers can spice up their bench as their backup squad in the most overall sense played quite dismally for LA. There is no reason Kobe should score a whopping 42 points in order to keep them in the game. He is human, he is old, let’s face it. And we could really see that as the game winded down last night. The Lakers have team options on Gasol, Bynum, and one other I forget. Player option on Barnes and a few others, as well as a restricted free agent of Darius Morris. Long term, I think that Bynum should be the one still remaining on the team whereas Gasol, he played decent for a lack of better word. But his lack of assertiveness both on the offensive and defensive end was apparent as the Lakers exited themselves in further contention for the 2012 NBA Playoffs. These two 7 footer bigs have failed to set their accumulated value as a centerpiece for the Lakers. They have showed that they cannot be existent together. Everyone will yell at me or criticize me as it’s true that they played together ok during the regular season. But clearly, that problem was a defining moment for their result in this year’s playoffs. We’ll see how the Lakers mix up their pieces this coming summer.
Thunder and Lakers game 5