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Caught in the Web: Analyzing Lakers' 87-79 victory over Oklahoma City Thunder

Game stories

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan outlines the Lakers' inconsistency in their 87-79 Game 1 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

--The Oklahoman's Mike Baldwin documents the Thunder's poor start.'s Bryan Chu details how Andrew Bynum's aggressiveness set the tone for the rest of the game.

--The Riverside Press Enterprise's David Lassen details the Lakers' improved defensive intensity.

--Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen breaks down some of the nuts and bolts regarding the Lakers' victory.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding chalks up the Lakers' win as a statement game.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford argues the Lakers secured some momentum with the victory.


--The Times' Bresnahan notes Kobe Bryant's shooting struggles and Lakers Coach Phil Jackson wearing his 2009 championship ring.

--Lakers guard Derek Fisher tells The Times' Broderick Turner he doesn't plan to retire after this season, but he acknowledges he's not sure what his future with the Lakers entails. Turner also documents how Thunder guard Russell Westbrook burned Fisher.

--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr ticks off the good and the bad of the Lakers' Game 1 victory.

--The Daily News' Teaford highlights Ron Artest's defensive effort on Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant.

--The Riverside Press Enterprise's Lassen has a medical update on reserve center D.J. Mbenga.

-- The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry and Berry Tramel detail why the Lakers have respect for the Thunder.


--The Times' Bill Plaschke argues Artest's defense on Durant helped the Lakers make up for Bryant's poor shooting night and Fisher's poor defense on Westbrook.

--The Times' T.J. Simers is pleasantly surprised with Andrew Bynum's big game, which also entailed having a tussle with Oklahoma City forward Jeff Green.

--The Times' Mark Heisler highlights some of the Lakers' encouraging signs, including Bynum's play. But he also expresses concern about Bryant's poor shooting.

--The Daily News' Vincent Bonsignore believes Bynum's presence alone will continue to give the Thunder fits.

--The Orange County Register's Ding observes Bynum's growing maturity.'s J.A. Adande provides the latest case study on how sports writers try to ensure maintaining their endurance during their long work hours. Adande had a live chat for the Lakers-Thunder game and then quickly travelled to Phoenix for the Suns-Blazers game.'s Scott Howard-Cooper believes it will take some time for the Lakers to look in full post-season form, but he doesn't think it's a cause for concern.

--Fox Sports' Mark Kriegel and Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski explain why the Lakers made the right choice in acquiring Artest.

--The Orange County Register's Jeff Miller explains what makes Artest tick.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin argues that Bynum will be the key to the Lakers' chances to repeat.

--The Oklahoman's Mayberry explains how the postseason is a learning experience for Thunder Coach Scott Brooks.

--The Riverside Press Enterprise's Gregg Patton compared Bynum's dominance to Shaquille O'Neal.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne highlights how Artest disrupted Durant's rhythm.

--The Oklahoman's Tramel argues that if Durant turns around his play, the Thunder will give the Lakers trouble the rest of the series.

--The Orange County Register's Mark Whicker explains how Bynum transitioned so quickly back into the lineup after missing the past 13 games because of a strained left Achilles' tendon.


--The Daily Thunder chalked up OKC's poor first-quarter start to inexperience, but credited the Thunder for making adjustments.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy and Brian Kamenetzky break down the game, analyze some numbers and present moving pictures.

--Forum Blue and Gold credits the Lakers' defense.

-Hardwood Paroxysm wasn't all that impressed with the game, period. So much in fact they reenacted themselves portions of the game.'s Mike Trudell has a running diary on all the action.

--Silver Screen and Roll's DexterFishmore described the Lakers victory as a "clutchy, clangy Game One."

Tweet of the Day: "I think I figured out what Ron's hair reminds me of - the shag '70s carpeting in the Brady Bunch house" -- mcten (ESPN Los Angeles' NBA reporter Dave McMenamin)

Reader Comment of the Day:"This game was more about heart and our team's offensive discipline than anything the Thunder can throw at us. They're young, explosive and will be a very tough first round opponent, but if we play our best game against them, I have a hard time seeing how this Thunder squad can win any games at Staples and I wager we'll win one in OKC." -- Jamie Sweet

--Mark Medina

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by Kevin Din for the OCRegister
It was Fisher who said after that first practice back for Bynum on Friday that even Bynum’s teammates had forgotten just what a big boy Bynum is.
Bynum reminded everyone else Sunday.
“Tough team, especially with Bynum back,” said Westbrook, whose decisions when driving toward the hoop began to be dictated late in Game 1 by whether Bynum was in his way. “It makes them really big in the paint.”
Even if Kobe isn’t all that Kobe can be, the Lakers still have reason to dream big.
“Drew’s going to get better,” Fisher said.
He wasn’t talking about 2013 either.

I knew it, bynum won't skip from the radar of LT. The question remains will that performance be consistent in every playoff game or just the opening game?

No kidding, we really need Bynum, Gasol andOdom to step up and with the help of lock down defense of Artest, those things compensate Kobe's lingering injuries. Kobe will have difficulty in carrying this team with 30 to 40 pts., this time it has to be spread with our stalwarts plus our role players PG's, they all have their roles to play to equalize youth and speed of Russell Westbrook.

It's amazing how much easier the game is for the Lakers when Andrew Bynum is engaged and aggressive. He has truly become the catalyst that will dictate the Lakers ability to exert their dominance over other teams. Dare I say, so goes Bynum, so go the Lakers.

Sure I'm happy the Lakers won but let's call it like it is:

If they play the way they did Sunday, they're not getting out of the second round.

A few reasons why:

Kobe looks like a 94 year-old grandmother. Either his career is over and he just doesn't know it yet or his "injuries" have left him at half-mast. He looks like garbage out there, and except for 6 game winning shots this year, he has played like dogcrap for most of the past two seasons.

Lamar Odom is consistently the most useless player on the team. It's very frustrating watching him contribute so little in 90% of the games he plays in. Yesterday was a perfect example. He showed he's undisciplined, lazy, not hard working and has never developed a skill set suited to his size. Name me any other 6'10" player with as little inside game as Odom. And if he ever learns to make a layup, I'll faint.

Gasol continues to get pushed off his spots by scrubs that are half-a-foot shorter than him. And he doesn't fight to establish consistent low-post position. If he is content to shoot 15-foot jumpers like he did yesterday, Oklahoma will be more than happy.

Artest is just plain bad, offensively. He stinks. When the ball is swung around to him and he's open, he HAS to make shots. The move by Kupchak and the Busses to go after him rather than pay Ariza a little more than the MLE will go down as one of the biggest blunders in Lakers history. They messed with championship-winning chemistry to save a few bucks. It was a bad move, even if the Lakers win the title this year. And don't overestimate his defense on Durant. Durant had PLENTY of wide open looks that he just didn't make. First game jitters. Don't count on that the rest of this series.

Here is what the great Coach said as a form of motivation to his Laker players.

You’re about to find out. Jackson, for his part, says the issue isn’t Bryant’s durability, but rather “connectedness.” “The critical element” of playoff basketball, he said, was “the ability to play in unison with one mind.

If there is a Mamba, there is the King Cobra among all coaches. You can't put them in a corner and pinned him down, they retreat, organize and manage to fight back in another battle strategy. Playoffs are like going to war, you just can't rely on the Marines to take over, there is the Air Force, the Navy and the Army fighting in a simultaneous fashion. The whole is the sum of its parts. That's why Luke, Ammo and Josh Powell are important in these playoffs because they are the minor players who should take over some responsibilities of the major parts. Sasha has to find a way to speed healing on his aching ankle, those are the heroics of Reed, Thomas and now Kobe playing injured but does not say die, done and over. It is mind over matter that if there is a will then there is a way.

Let me make it simple for everybody. In order for the Thunder to have any chance to win the series, Durant MUST have a big game EVERY game. For the Lakers to win the series, they do NOT need a big game every game from Kobe, or Bynum, or anybody else. They are loaded. There are at least 5 guys who can go big on any given night, and it could be a different combination of 2 or 3 guys who do. THAT is what makes them different from almost every other team in the league. And that is why they are still a very good bet to win it all again.

Loved, LOVED Drew's aggressiveness in the post. He was flat out nasty. A beast! I liked what I saw out of most of the team, and I even liked Jackson's rotations. Kobe looked a lot better than in those last couple games he played in the regular season. I have a renewed hope in our path to the playoffs.


Mark Medina,

"'s J.A. Adande provides the latest case study on how sports writers try to ensure maintaining their endurance during their long work hours."

Hey, how are you getting by? I'm assuming you're not getting a lot of sleep.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


A Kraken song? Should be a song filled with stress, brooding and impending danger...

How about that "many miles away, something crawls from the bottom of a dark.....Scottish lock.....



"Kobe looks like a 94 year-old grandmother."

Your post seethes with hate. It coulds your vision. It must be a very dark world you live in.

I'm sure your 94 year-old grandmother could make that game highlight block Kobe made.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


Let's put it simply...

The Thunder don't have an answer for Andrew Bynum.

We have an answer for Kevin Durant. His name is Ron Artest.

Westbrook can't score if Bynum and Gasol are clogging up the lane.

Kobe won't continue to miss shots like he did yesterday. Half his shots were in and out and missed by a centimeter.

Lakers in five.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


HCE: to the left... to the left.

Does Mark Heisler ever say anything insightful?

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


Hey, do we have any Sasha injury updates?

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


Jon K - Thanks for the love man. As far as the sleep goes, it fluctuates. There are days I try to stay up late to get a lot of work done and get ahead. There are times I'll take long naps if I need it. And a few doses of five-hour energy drinks if I need to somehow stay awake. I'm still ironing out the perfect system but it's all about pushing yourself as much as possible without completely burning yourself out. And to make sure to take time off when you know you need a break or need to rest.

There's no update on Sasha other than his injury is indefinite. As Phil noted after the Clippers loss, I don't think anyone should expect him to play at all in the first round.


I'm surprised at those who found nothing to like in a first game where the Lakers led wire to wire.

This is a very balanced Laker team. They don't need everybody to step up every night to wing. This game showed how good this team can be at WINNING.

They won with a good game by Bynum, but in limited (30) minutes. A solid game from Gasol. A good defensive/poor offensive game from Artest. A poor shooting game from Kobe. A pretty typical outing from Fish. Not much from Lamar. Pretty good minutes from Shannon and Farmar. Nobody had a HUGE game, everybody could put up better numbers on a given night.

The Lakers led, wire to wire, were actually never seriously threatend, with a weak shooting performance from their top scorer, and no major contribution from their sixth man.

That is because a) they can flat out play defense and b) they are versatile enough to overcome these things.

There will be nights when Kobe is on. Lamar, as we know, can turn a game around when he is on. Artest will have games where the spot up 3s drop for him. The Lakers won this game with one hand tied behind their back. They don't have to be perfect to win. With Durant struggling, OKC didn't have a chance. But Kobe struggled just as much as Durant and the Lakers were fine. If Kobe hits four foul shots the lead never even gets back into single digits.

On some nights later in the playoffs the Lakers will need more of their weapons. But they can get by most nights with just a few. And expect them to continue to get better as the playoffs roll on - it is Phil and Kobe's history.

Tom D.


1. This just might be the year for Drew to put his stamp on Laker's quest for TITLE repeat

2. The jury is out and see if the Big Kid can take us to the promise land.

3. Drew's star is shining bright and this playoff run is his RED CARPET


1. Ron has the toughest assignments of all the players, defend against Duran, Melo, LBJ or Paul or Vince.

2. Ron's star is shinning bright as well.


Jon K.:

YOU WROTE: " Does Mark Heisler ever say anything insightful?"

RESPONSE: Unless you think writing:

"What do we play for? RINGS!!! Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

is insightful?

Have a nice day!!

Posted by: Jon K.

Hi Jon K:

Actually, it's bright and sunny today in So. Cal.
I am anything but a Laker or Kobe hater. I have been following this team since the late 1960s.
If anything, I am guilty of seeing the glass as half-empty rather than half-full when it comes to the Lakers, but only because I've come to expect the same as you: Championships.

I still stand by the points I made in my earlier post.

Zaira: Thanks. I am avidly on the left.

When all else fails Phred, try Disney:


There's nothing to proud of this victory, instead a lot to be worried about in the long run. They did not run over a team they're supposed to beat easily. The young Thunder team without play-off experience hung around until the last buzzer sounded. Do you expect Durant (2009 scoring champion)play like that in the whole series? Kobe inspite of sitting out the last couple of regular season games to rest his injuries did not play like we hoped so to a well rested player. He made 6 of 19 shots for 31% and his FT (is Shag like) 7 of 12 for 58%. How can he carried this team to a back to back if he will play like that? Instead of rejoicing to a mediocre victory against a not so elite team like the Thunder the Laker fans should hope that this team have enough gasoline in their tank to go all the way to the promised land again.

here's the rational take: this was a very good game for the Lakers given their form in the final 10 games of the pre-season. Yes, we saw a lot of familiar problems, but we also saw improvements that to me indicate a lot of upside potential. In short, the team we saw in the last two weeks of the pre-season had no chance at getting out of the 2nd round, let alone winning the Championship. Yesterday's team established it as a contender - so long as the positive trajectory continues.

The biggest positives:

Remember, Bynum could've come out weak, foul prone and uncommitted. Instead he came out aggressive and energized, ready for war.

Artest, did a very reasonable job on Durant given that of all the stars Artest is assigned to guard, Durant is probably the toughest match-up wise for Artest.

Kobe, busted finger and all, had more pep in his step. Dude is a warrior. I've tried to play sports through injuries, after a while it just erodes your confidence and your desire to compete. Kobe just doesn't have that mind set and it is inspiring. He'll be there to deliver when the Lakers need him most.

The bench also lead the Lakers big lead erode, but overall the team kept OKC at arms length.

the negatives are many (and all very familiar by now) and must be addressed in the coming games.

Awww Michael H is right Toddy boy:

You can't handle the truth!

Truth is Blitz only likes players 30 years old and over!

We shouldn't expect Blitz to say anything positive about Bynum for another 8 years!

That has to be Drew's best playoff game so far. If he's had a better one I don't remember it. His play really seemed to provide a lot of the energy for the game.

I actually think Heisler is pretty insightful most of the time. As for the ABC/ESPN commentators, maybe I'm the only Laker fan who likes them. JVG, cracks me up, he's funny and he knows basketball. I'll grant you the ESPN guys do digress too much, but for me they're usually entertaining. As for bias, JVG and M. Jackson have always heaped praise on Kobe so it's hard for me to buy into an anti-Laker theory. At this point we Laker fans are the only ones that are predicting Lakers will win the title. I don't think there is a top non-LA sportswriter that isn't picking the Cavs at this point, but does that really matter? We don't root for the Lakers only when we think they'll win, do we?

Mark G.

Don't usually read Heisler so I don't really have an opinion. The ABC/ESPN guys just get away from the game way too much and talk about each other, how they love/hate each other, LBJ being the most dominant figure in all of sports, and how they love/hate each other. IMHO they just take it over the top too often and forget that they are covering a basketball game. They also tend to hop on the train of whichever team is winning at the time although it seemed like this week they were supposed to be commenting the Thunder back into the game. That is their wrap game after game and it never changes.

I miss the days when KLAC simulcast Chick and Stu if it was a nationally televised game. You could watch the game and still listen to Chick call it like it was.




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