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Five things to take away from Lakers' 90-87 victory over Oklahoma City

597319311. The Lakers made late-game plays in their 90-87 victory Sunday over Oklahoma City. That sentiment may not have lasted had the Thunder converted on their last possession. After Lamar Odom missed two free throws with 10 seconds remaining, the Thunder immediately called timeout when Kevin Durant grabbed the rebound with nine seconds remaining. On the next play, Durant caught a pass curling off a screen, but Ron Artest and Pau Gasol closely contested his three-point attempt. Thunder center Nick Collison tipped the missed shot to the top of the key to James Harden, whose trey hit off the back iron. But credit the Lakers' defensive effort in forcing OKC into making tough shots at the end and many possessions before that.

That became crucial considering the Lakers entered the fourth quarter holding only a 72-71 lead over the Thunder. After OKC guard Russell Westbrook missed a 13-footer, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant grabbed the rebound. On the next possession, Bryant received a dump pass from Artest at the top of the key before receiving a screen on Harden. With the shot clock winding down to six, Bryant drained a three-pointer that gave the Lakers an 84-80 lead with 4:37 remaining. Nearly three minutes later, Bryant drove into the lane and didn't receive a foul call despite Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha making contact with him. But he made up for it after the Lakers took possession out of bounds. In an isolated set on the far wing, Bryant posted up on Sefolosha, moved out into triple-threat position, swung the ball left, dribbled in, posted up and then turned around for a 16-footer that put the Lakers up 90-87 with 56 seconds remaining.

The Lakers also made huge defensive plays. Artest swiped a pass from Westbrook to Durant that could've sliced the Lakers' momentum after Bryant's fallaway jumper. On the next possession, Gasol stood firmly in the paint to draw an offensive foul on Westbrook. Oklahoma City surely made critical plays late in the game, including a 7-1 run to close the gap to 88-87 with 2:01 remaining and Collison's extra tip-in, but the Lakers offset that with crucial plays of their own.


2. The Lakers' defense improved in the second half. Artest and Gasol embodied that in the two crucial defensive plays described above, but the Lakers mostly lacked that kind of play in the first half. Oklahoma City shot 61% from the field and led by as many as 14 points because of the Lakers' failure to hold the Thunder in the open court and shut down penetration in the lane. The Lakers epitomized that breakdown the most when Westbrook dribbled behind his back past Bryant in transition and finished with a one-handed dunk to give the Thunder a 45-42 with 4:16 left in the second quarter. Oklahoma City also outscored the Lakers inside, 40-34, thanks to their perimeter players driving to the basket. Ibaka's 13 rebounds also helped contribute to Oklahoma City's 39-36 rebounding advantage.

That all changed in the second half. The Lakers held Oklahoma City to a season-low 31 second-half points, including only 13 in the third quarter, which appeared similar to the Lakers' 101-94 victory Jan. 18 against Oklahoma City when they held the Thunder to 39 points in the second half after allowing 55 before halftime.

3. The Thunder had no answer for Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. While Kendrick Perkins isn't expected to play for OKC until two to three weeks from now because of a sprained left knee, the Lakers feasted on their size advantage they had inside with their pair of 7-footers. They combined for 34 points and 21 rebounds and became a formula the Thunder frankly had no answer combating. The problem is that the Lakers didn't always utilize their advantage by limiting them to only 20 combined field-goal attempts, which has proven to be an ongoing issue. Bryant played a terrific game with timely shots, taking a charge and remaining aggressive, but his eight-of-22 shooting mark could've been tempered a little bit.

4. Ron Artest continues to progress. There's no point in trying to analyze patterns regarding Artest. For better and worse, that's what the Lakers get with him. The Lakers simply hope the stars align at the right time. So it's too early to say whether Artest has figured things out since shooting better than 50% for the third time in four games after the All-Star break. But it's a welcome sign. The Lakers didn't bring him to L.A. to score 10 points on five-of-10 shooting, though that's surely a bonus. They brought him in to hold players such as Durant to 21 points on eight-of-20 shooting with five turnovers. As much as Artest insists every game means the same to him, there's no doubt this one meant more to him considering he structured his whole workout regiment to slimming down so he could keep up with Durant.

5. Bryant surpassed Elvin Hayes on the NBA's all-time scoring list. His 17-point effort currently places Bryant at 27,320 career points, eclipsing Hayes' mark of 27,303 points for seventh place. Assuming Bryant maintains his 25.2 points per game average this season, he should surpass Moses Malone's mark of 27,409 points within the next three or four games. Bryant this season has already moved past Hakeem Olajuwon, Oscar Robertson, Dominique Wilkins and John Havlicek.

--Mark Medina

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Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant reacts to a play in the second half of Sunday's 90-87 victory over the Thunder in Oklahoma City. Credit: Larry W. Smith / EPA

Photo: Lakers forward Lamar Odom goes after a loose ball with Thunder guard Daequan Cook in the second half Sunday. Credit: James Schammerhorn / Associated Press

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Defense wins championships. Keep it up.

Very encouraging signs from the Lakers during this post All Star game winning streak. 2 convincing wins at home and two hard fought victories on the road. Any win in Portland or in OKC is a good win. Those type of games build team character and trust. Nothing like a good road win.

Man, I have been loving every single Laker game out of the all star break. They've all been really entertaining basketball games to watch, and they've reminded me why I became a basketball fan. Not going to both re posting or re typing up my previous post on problems with Odom, but hopefully he snaps his issues by play off time.

I was really hoping the Raptors would've won tonight, but guess not. The rest of this season is going to be critical for us.

Lakers are back haters!

Kevin Durant , OKC
53 39.5 28.6 9.5-20.3 .466 1.8-5.3 .338 7.9-9.1 .873
LeBron James , MIA
57 38.3 26.2 9.1-18.7 .488 1.2-3.6 .341 6.7-8.8 .758
Amar'e Stoudemire , NYK
55 36.8 26.1 9.8-19.4 .507 .2-.3 .474 6.2-7.9 .790
Dwyane Wade , MIA
55 37.2 25.8 9.2-18.3 .503 .9-2.7 .320 6.5-8.9 .732
Carmelo Anthony , NYK-DEN
52 35.6 25.2 8.8-19.5 .450 .9-2.5 .344 6.8-8.3 .822
Kobe Bryant , LAL
60 33.9 25.2 9.0-19.5 .462 1.4-4.2 .324 5.9-7.1 .828
Monta Ellis , GSW
57 40.9 25.0 9.4-20.6 .456 1.6-4.5 .355 4.6-5.9 .769
Derrick Rose , CHI
56 37.9 24.9 9.0-20.2 .446 1.5-4.3 .350 5.3-6.3 .842
Dwight Howard , ORL
57 36.7 23.3 8.3-13.8 .597 .0-.1 .000 6.7-11.4 .592
Kevin Martin , HOU
58 31.1 23.1 6.7-15.2 .439 2.2-5.5 .399 7.6-8.6 .883

Also, I would really like to point out something really important come play off time.
Look how many minutes Kobe is averaging a game compared to the other #10 scorers in the league? It's so low compared to everyone BUT Kevin Martin. This will be crucial for us in the stretch. Really Durant? 39.5 mpg? How is he going to be able to sustain that all year? You could tell he was tired tonight, how will he do in a best of 7 play off series vs the lakers?
What about Lebron and Wade? 38 and 37 minutes? Again, can they keep that up all season long? They will get tired eventually especiall in a 2nd or 3rd playoff round. Amare and Carmelo are both at 35 and 36 minutes a game.. can they sustain that in the play offs?

Kobe is averaging 25.2 pts a game in 33.9 minutes. Can you imagine what numbers he would be putting up if he was averagnig 36 minutes a game? It's great that he isn't doing that because if we need him to do it in the play offs he will have saved hours of rest time come the time.

PJ isn't dumb to the haters out there.

R.I.P Edwin "Duke" Snider. Mr. Snider was a Hall of Fame centerfielder for the Dodgers and was instrumental during the team's glory days in Brooklyn during the 1950's. The Duke helped his teammate Jackie Robinson as Jackie battled racial prejudice when he became the first African-American in the modern era to play in the Major Leagues. The Dodgers were affectionately called "Da Bums" when they played in Brooklyn. Mr. Snider was no "Bum".

Five things to take away from Lakers' 90-87 victory over Oklahoma City?

Bynum's 5 blocks. That negates at least 6-10 points (accounting for altered shots and impossible ones, too) and solidifies his place in the rotation.


yeah, kobe sure wore down last year when he played 38 minutes a game. The plan is to hope lebron and wade wear down cuz they're logging 38 minutes a game? Not that big a deal at all.
You know why Kobe's minutes are down compared to the other top 10 scorers? It's cuz he's old (with all due respect, mamba)

Another take-away...

Fisher can't defend Westbrook, Harden or Sofolosha.

Sorry, but my Grandma crossed up Fish last week, and she's been dead since 2009.


Great game! Someone please tell Lamar to take his time before he shoots a free throw. No need to rush. If you watch a soccor game during the free kick; if the guy waits before kicking his chances of success go way up. This is Zen 101 quiet the mind and connect to your breathing.

Call me crazy but I thought the Thunder played better D and had a better shooting percentage at first. The Lakers ground it out and one anyway. Yes!

@THE OUTLAW… LOL. I always have my Bynum glasses on. Seriously, though, I think Drew’s and Pau’s +/- scores pretty much tell the story about their play with Drew +16 and Pau -13. While I often am critical of the relevancy of +/- scores, this time the +/- really told the story. When Drew was in the game, every shot in the paint was challenged. When Pau was in the game, easy layups and dunks.

I do agree with your comments that Drew should dunk the ball more often to prevent shots from getting blocked but the guy to whom your comments should be directed is Pau Gasol, who with a couple of exceptions played very soft in this game. I could have predicted his last few jumpers would be short armed. .I could see Kobe getting pissed at Pau for not finishing hard, which finally motivated him to toughen up. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pau when he is aggressive and helps on defense but when he throws up weenie shots and appears afraid of going into the paint or trying to block a shot, I tend to go all “ouchhhhhhhh” on Pau. At any rate, that was a critical charge that he drew.
@DKWSFO… Good stuff as usual. I think the issue with Drew’s hops is really just the normal aftermath of the surgery although there were several plays this game where Drew really elevated to grab a board and jumped very quickly to block a shot. I expect we will see him start to play more consistently and see his hops and athleticism improve as we progress through the playoffs.

In the case of Kobe not getting the normal super star calls, it’s almost reached the point where the refs are not calling fouls in order to get Kobe pissed so that they can give him a technical foul. You would hope the Lakers front office would send some video to the league offices about that play. Seriously, bump Dwayne Wade or LeBron James and you automatically get whistled. Mug Kobe and the refs will just step aside and “let them play.” Only in the NBA.

Steve Javie needs to be more concerned with good officiating and less concerned with his ego. As much as Kobe got foul, he didn't have one single free throw, pathetic.
Posted by: Laker J | February 27, 2011 at 02:18 PM

Amen, Laker J, Amen!!
The layup attempt on which Ibaka and Thabo tried to dismember Kobe WITH NO FOUL CALLED was as poor of a non-call as I have ever seen.
Posted by: bronxlakerfan | February 27, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Laker J/Bronx – Double Amen!

@Tax – congrats on the RCOTD. I enjoy reading your posts.

@LT – I agree Bynum was very good, but I agree with Outlaw and AK that Pau also was effective.

Quick blog musical catchup

@mclyne – very good bassman selection with Les.

@phred – nice Summertime smorgasbord with a sprinkle of Porgy. Tasty!

@ms – good game day selections as usual. It’s always good to hear Ella.

@Mamba – correctamundo -Ain’t no stopping us now…yes sir!

@MagicPhil – cool underrated cut by Chaka. And I agree with you about Luther….except heavy or thin he was always great!

Bynum's play in this game impressed me. Bynum looked like an 8-footer when he was playing Ibaka who is a 7-footer himself. That was impressive. I hope the Lakers as a team keep playing like this as well.

Note to Medina: the first paragraph, second sentence should say "After Lamar Odom missed...". The word "missed" is missing.

Lakers have looked interested since the break. They have been here so many times, they know how to pace themselves. Go lakers

This was a big win but the true test before the playoffs is on the horizon. Four huge away games in a row; SA, ATL, MIA, and DAL. If the Lakers can go 4-0 or 3-1 during that span, then they really have "flipped the switch" (I love over-used cliches!). Let's get it! On to the next one....

I think Ron needs to FEEL (and note the term FEEL) more active in the offense. What I mean by that is that Ron seems to have trouble focusing and some anxiety issues, him just camped out in the corner by the three point line isn't going to help that.

I've noticed that when he's moving, he shoots better.

We should have plays that utilize his ability to penetrate and shoot in motion.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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



TYPO ALERT*** It's workout regimen, not regiment.

Great win for the team's confidence. Phillip looked like he was really coaching for the first time this year.

I'm not too optimistic about facing the Thunders in the playoffs, I think they will be the toughest matchup for the Lakers. They gave the Lakers all they can handle, without Kendrick Perkins, and the Lakers barely beat them. They played the Lakers really tough inside and outside, even Nick Collison, who looked like an all star pushing Pau around the whole game.

Both Sefolosha and James Harden defended Kobe straight up and forced him into more tough shots and turnovers than any two defenders I've seen this year.

Between these teams whoever has home court advantage in the playoffs will win the series. Phillip may want to consider builiding the offense around Bynum and Gasol, and make Kobe the second option if they were to face the Thunders again.

Still, no complaints after 4 straight wins. Next Sunday at San Antonio and Thursday at Miami will be gut check time. The good sign is I saw some fire in the team, especially Ron Artest, he's looking more like his old self.

2010 - Ron: "Kobe passed me the ball! He never passes me the ball!"

2011 - Bynum: "Kobe passed me the ball! He never passes me the ball!"

Kobe could rack up some assists (and fouls on the defense) if plays pick and roll with Bynum. Jeez Bynum is begging for an alley-oop from Kobe.

Good game. The only problem I see is even when Kobe gives the ball up; it comes right back to him. The other Lakers must be aggressive in looking for their shots instead of giving the ball right back to Kobe. Lots of times he has no choice but to shoot as the ball comes back to him.

Yup, Keep Kobe rested... We know he can even make YOUNGER All-Stars look silly...

OKC will be the real test if Perkins is 90%... NOT the Spurs or Dallas (Though they will be tough).

We all know the Lakers know they have to START peaking in Late March... Especially will we see this on the defensive side of the ball

In any case... Barnes will be welcomed rest for Kobe or a nice change of pace at the SF position if the Lakers dont need Artest's brute force.

What is going on with Ratliff? Is he done?

Yup, Keep Kobe rested... We know he can even make YOUNGER All-Stars look silly...

OKC will be the real test if Perkins is 90%... NOT the Spurs or Dallas (Though they will be tough).

We all know the Lakers know they have to START peaking in Late March... Especially will we see this on the defensive side of the ball

In any case... Barnes will be welcomed rest for Kobe or a nice change of pace at the SF position if the Lakers dont need Artest's brute force.

What is going on with Ratliff? Is he done?

Yup, Keep Kobe rested... We know he can even make YOUNGER All-Stars look silly...

OKC will be the real test if Perkins is 90%... NOT the Spurs or Dallas (Though they will be tough).

We all know the Lakers know they have to START peaking in Late March... Especially will we see this on the defensive side of the ball

In any case... Barnes will be welcomed rest for Kobe or a nice change of pace at the SF position if the Lakers dont need Artest's brute force.

What is going on with Ratliff? Is he done?

Oh as regards LeBron tiring out... i dont think so... i remember when young Kobe played big minutes at a consistent high level...

It's Wade that i think would break down... Miami now has NYK to worry about besides Celtics, Bulls, and Orlando... before they even think about getting into the Finals...

+1 on Diandra's analysis. I agree that Kobe's limited playing time is more a product of a preemptive strategy to preserve his energy and health than lack of endurance. I believe Kobe can still be effective playing longer minutes, but he and Phil are choosing to pick their spots. Older, less athletic Kobe = wiser Kobe.

As I've stated in earlier posts, no other superstar goes as long without getting to the charity stripe as Kobe. He was held, grabbed, and pushed, with no fouls called. I'm glad he can work past it, but it's a crime regardless. For some reason, he can't get calls on a consistant basis, like other star players. Maybe he says too much or something, but he get's a nightly beat-down, and nothing is called, even from the younger officials. IMO they've beeen given instruction not to react when he get's fouled, unless THEY decide to call it.

Great win yesterday! Kobe might be 32 but he is still one of the top 3 players in the game. I thought second unit (particulary Lamar) and Bynum played a hella game in the 2nd quarter to bring the Lakers within 1 before they went down 5 at the break. They just seemed to get in a rhythm. Down the stretch Harding played good defense on Mamba, but the shot he needed to make he made- fallaway jumper against Shavolosa (whatever). And the defense, did the JOB! It was a good win. They seem focus and those next road games will really tell the story- SA, MIA, and DAL. Hawks game could be a trap game and they haven't played well here in GA in the last few years anyway. If they can beat those three teams, I think the analysts will start picking the Lakers to win the title again. We forget the Spurs were beaten if Odom had blocked out McDyess. Go LAKERS!

Kobe's fourth quarter play was troubling to me. After seeing him rise above all his peers in the first three quarters of the All Star game, we saw him fall back to earth in the fourth. Only timely shots by Durant and Gasol kept the MVP in Kobe's hands. Now it's becoming a trend. How will Kobe play increased minutes in the playoffs when he's falling apart at the end of games where he plays 35 minutes? I hope he can find a way to adjust his shot late in games knowing that he's lost his legs at that point. It wouldn't hurt to see him play off the ball a little more and let his teammates set him up rather than creating off the dribble so often.

Lakers continue their winning ways,its going on 4 games undefeated,probabaly thats a good sign of team preparing for the latter part of the season.They are playing like a team now,passing the ball around and playing within the offense.That what Lakers always need to do,play team ball,play within the triangle,play hard defence.Playing a team game by passing the ball and playing within the offence that will lessen the burden of individual fatique.Not one man having the burden to run the offence and put up 5o or more points and still lose the game.Thats not Lakers game,thats not Phil philosophy,furthermore Lakers offence is completely different from the rest of the Nba.These are points the guys must remember.Yes other teams will compete hard when they play the Lakers but our offence is very unique and it will give everyone on the Lakers options to shoot and score.Continue Lakers to shoot for that goal.Ninja continues to observe---------

"Both Sefolosha and James Harden defended Kobe straight up and forced him into more tough shots and turnovers than any two defenders I've seen this year"

Posted by: Joseph | February 27, 2011 at 11:20 PM

Joseph...I'll say this for Harden and Thabo. They read, correctly, that the referees were allowing a lot of contact and defended accordingly. They beat Kobe from pillar to post. I've never seen Kobe back down from a physical game, but his hands were tied yesterday by refs that consistently failed to call the fouls against him.



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