OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 14: Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers watches near the end of the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 14, 2012 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Oklahoma City defeated Los Angeles 119-90. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
The aged, older Los Angeles Lakers, however, were thrashed 119-90 by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night in the opening game of the Western Conference semifinals.
It's just one game.
The aged, older Los Angeles Lakers, however, were thrashed 119-90 by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night in the opening game of the Western Conference semifinals. Russell Westbrook led the destruction with 27 points and nine assists, and Kevin Durant poured in 25 points.
This marked the first time the Thunder had played since finishing their sweep of Dallas on May 5. But there were no signs of rust, just well-rested players attacking the rim, making shot after shot and having their way against the Lakers. The team from Los Angeles was embarrassed for the second time in these playoffs, the first time in Game 6 of the first round when the Denver Nuggets delivered an epic beatdown of the purple and gold.
The Lakers trailed 15-points to the Thunder at halftime. For the rest of the game, the Lakers never recovered as the Thunder opened with a 15-2 run in the third quarter. The Lakers didn't look too intimidating Monday night, but weary and sluggish.
Trailing by as much as 35 points, the Lakers were outplayed and lacked much poise and aggressiveness to end for the 12th worst loss in Lakers playoff history. That gave the Thunder revenge for the elbow Metta World Peace viciously landed to the head of James Harden, the one that fired him and the rest of the Oklahoma City squad, a team built with plenty of weapons and youth.
Neither Kobe Bryant nor Andrew Bynum had their best game, scoring 20 points each. As Bynum battled underneath the basket, he was a dynamic force down low, grabbing 14 rebounds. It wasn't good enough to stop an athletic and maybe the deepest team in the playoffs, making a run for its first championship in Oklahoma City.
After such an embarrassing, pitiful downfall, with poor shooting, awful ball handling and the lack of effort, the Lakers suddenly had no desire, getting pushed around and tormented. But the Lakers will be trying to respond for Game 2 Wednesday night to even the series 1-1.
The previous series, which ended Saturday, left the Lakers fatigued. Without enough rest, they had to begin a new series against the Thunder in less than 48 hours. Also while in Oklahoma City, the Lakers haven't had much success on the road, let alone a hostile environment where it's tough to pull off a victory.
The game became ugly after halftime, with Durant lobbing the ball to Westbrook for an empathic two-handed dunk, and then he buried a three-pointer to force Lakers head coach Mike Brown to use a timeout. The pandemonium -- to fire up the Thunder -- was intense and Oklahoma City fed off a rabid crowd. Late in the third, Kendrick Perkins, Thunder center, had a highlight two-handed dunk, followed by another three-point shot from Durant.
At the beginning, the Thunder managed a six-point lead and ran away with a 19-7 run punctuated by Harden's layup on a drive for an eventual three-point play to extend the lead to 25-19. The focus entering the game largely was on the concussion Harden suffered to the head three weeks ago, for which it was the first meeting between the teams since World Peace had the elbow incident.
The Lakers will have to have a stronger Game 2 by contesting every shot and staying aggressive. The better not be fatigued in the next game, unless the Lakers want to trail 2-0 going back home.