Five things to take from Lakers' 100-85 loss to Oklahoma City
1. The Lakers lacked energy in their 100-85 loss to Oklahoma City. For awhile, the Lakers adopted a smart strategy in remaining disciplined on defense and limiting the Thunder's chances in transition on Thursday night in Oklahoma City. Then the second half happened. The Thunder went on a 9-0 run. And they finished with 21 fastbreak points. The Lakers settled for mostly jump shots. And in not-too-surprising fashion, the Lakers couldn't match the Thunder's speed.
2. Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum have bad nights. Both might be headed to Orlando for the All-Star game, but they hardly dressed the part. Bryant's 24 points on seven-for-24 shooting featured tired legs, too many jumpers and James Harden playing suffocating defense. Despite a sore wrist, Harden scored 16 points on shots mostly against Bryant, prompting the Thunder backup guard to constantly chirp at Bryant late in the game. Still, Bryant appeared to tell Harden to "back off" for his long-term good.
Meanwhile, Bynum's 14 points on five-of-15 shooting reflected a poor start until a more promising fourth quarter, Kendrick Perkins' aggressive defense and a huge mistake to close the first half. Bynum made a lazy inbounds pass, allowing Kevin Durant to nail a 15-footer with 0.8 seconds left. On the previous possession, Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook hit an open three-pointer.
3. Pau Gasol good on offense, so-so on defense. Gasol remained aggressive, posting 22 points on nine-of-14 shooting with nine rebounds while featuring various shots. They ranged from hooks to jumpers to put-backs. If only Gasol extended that same focus defensively. He gave way too much space to Serge Ibaka, who scored 11 points on five-of-10 shooting, mostly on open jumpers.
4. Metta World Peace good on offense, so-so on defense. It doesn't happen often where you type these sentences, but they happened. World Peace scored nine points on a three-for-five shooting from three-point range, a product of the Lakers making effective swing passes around to World Peace on the perimeter.
Durant's 33 points on 12-for-22 shooting shows World Peace doesn't have the same lateral quickness he did two years ago when he held Durant to 35% shooting in the first round of the 2010 NBA playoffs. World Peace held his own on some occassions by altering Durant's shots and creating loose balls, but Durant's eight field goals came when World Peace was in the game.
5. The Lakers enter the All-Star break with mixed vibes. The Lakers have won five of their last seven games. But they have only beaten two teams ahead of them in the Western Conference standings. This shows the Lakers might be developing, but they only have so much talent to work with right now.
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Photo: Thunder guard Russell Westbrook elevates for a dunk over Lakers power forward Pau Gasol in the second half Thursday night in Oklahoma City. Credit: Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press