Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

May 15, 2012

LAughable

Well-rested Thunder thump Lakers in Game 1.

OKLAHOMA CITY — For the second time in less than a week, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers must figure out how to fight back after a humbling loss.

Bryant responded the first time by calling out his teammates for lackluster effort.

It might not be so simple this time.

Russell Westbrook had 27 points and nine assists, Kevin Durant added 25 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder blasted the weary Lakers 119-90 Monday night in the opening game of the Western Conference semifinals.

This blowout came four days after Bryant's Lakers trailed by as many as 28 in a loss at Denver, then bounced back to win Game 7. They'll need to find some answers before Game 2 in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.

"I've seen both sides of that equation and my experience has taught me just to be patient and to think the game through," said Bryant, who tied Andrew Bynum for the team lead with 20 points.

"We can come up with a different strategy and we can do a much better job and have a much better showing in the next game."

The Thunder took a 15-point halftime lead, opened the third quarter with a 15-2 blitz filled with crowd-pleasing 3-pointers and dunks, and never looked back. The final margin ended up being the fourth-largest in the history of the Oklahoma City franchise, including its years in Seattle.

It matched the 12th-largest defeat in Lakers postseason history, and the sixth worst of Bryant's career. Three of those losses came in close-out games when L.A. was done for the series. Once was the start of a four-game sweep. The other two times, the Lakers came back to win the next game — both during their run to the 2000 NBA title.

"We got beat tonight. You can say anything you want to about a seven-game series and us having a day or whatever," Los Angeles coach Mike Brown said. "The bottom line is this is the playoffs, we've got to come to play and we didn't. We got beat.

"It's one game, so we've got to bounce back for the next one."

The Thunder didn't need any dirty tactics to get even for Metta World Peace's suspension-worthy elbow that gave Oklahoma City's James Harden a concussion with a week left in the regular season.

The league's most turnover-prone team — committing 16.4 per game in the regular season — gave it away only four times, a record low for the franchise.

"I think that's huge," coach Scott Brooks said. "Four — we've had that the first 6 minutes of games at times."

While the Lakers were making a quick turnaround less than 48 hours after ending the first round, the Thunder had eight full days off following their first-round sweep of defending NBA champion Dallas.

That gave starting center Kendrick Perkins time — but apparently not enough — to rest a strained muscle in his right hip after he hurt it in the final game of the Dallas series. He limped out of the game after dunking just after halftime and did not return — although coach Scott Brooks said he could have. He will be re-evaluated Tuesday.

The possibility of rust had been a concern for Brooks, and he fought it by alternating light days with demanding, training-camp style practices.

"There's no question we have a team full of gym rats. They want to play basketball," Brooks said. "That's all they want to do: They want to play basketball. They're basketball players. They probably don't have much of a life off the court."

All that pent-up energy came flowing out just after halftime, in highlight-reel fashion.

Durant lobbed the ball to Westbrook for a two-handed slam, then connected on a 3-pointer from the left wing to draw a timeout from Brown.

That still didn't slow Oklahoma City, which got what could have been a costly two-handed dunk from Perkins on its next trip and then another 3 from Durant before Thabo Sefolosha swiped the ball from Bryant and ran out for a layup that made it 74-46 with 8:39 left in the period.

"From then on, it was cruising for us," said Westbrook, who had nine assists against one turnover.

Both coaches started going to their benches with 8½ minutes left, and Los Angeles reserve Devin Ebanks ended up getting ejected with 2:18 to play after walking up to a scrum for the ball after the whistle. Official Greg Willard said at the scorer's table that he was ejected for "what he said" in drawing a technical foul.

"Obviously, they're more well-rested than we are, but I don't think it made that much of a difference for us," Bryant said.

"We could have had the same amount of days off. They're just younger and faster. And tonight, what you saw is them executing extremely well."

The buildup to the game focused largely on it being the first meeting between the teams since World Peace got a seven-game suspension for elbowing Harden. He returned just in time to help L.A. win Game 7 against Denver.

A sold-out crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena wasn't happy to see him back, although World Peace — who changed his name from Ron Artest — was hardly fazed by the chorus of boos that greeted him during pregame introductions or again whenever the ball came his way.

World Peace knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key amid boos the first time he touched the ball, set up a two-handed jam by Bynum and drilled another 3 within the first 2½ minutes.

The boos continued throughout the game whenever he got the ball.

"Right now, it's about basketball," World Peace said. "After the season we can talk about that but right now it's more about basketball."

Notes: Bryant tied former teammate Shaquille O'Neal for the third-most playoff games in NBA history with 216. ... Perkins was called for a lane violation in the first quarter after arguing with Willard about a call and then walking up to his spot along the lane while Bynum was shooting. Bynum made both foul shots when awarded the extra chance. ... Toby Keith's daughter, Krystal, sang the national anthem.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Yurcich ready for second season

    With the 2014 season on the brink, Mike Yurcich, Oklahoma State University football offensive coordinator, is ready for his second year at the helm after coaching a powerful offensive squad a year ago.

    July 28, 2014

  • James_Ethan-(12)-vs.#2CC63C.jpg Back on the line

    RiverHawks’ Ethan James returns to the line healthy and ready for 2014

    RiverHawks offensive lineman Ethan James will enter the 2014 season healthy – something the team, and James, were not in 2013.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Sooners shifting several positions

    Experience comes from encountering the same things in the same ways over and over again. Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom and Julian Wilson have that at defensive end and nickleback in bunches.
    However, both will be seeing new things when practice begins. Grissom is moving to outside linebacker. Wilson will be getting a look at cornerback as his senior season begins

    July 25, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • BobBowlsby.jpg Media Week: Change is coming

    Changes are coming to college athletics.
    That was the theme of the state of the conference speech by Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby on the first day of Big 12 Football Media Days.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peterson.jpg Cowboy quandary: OSU defense trying to replace seven starters

    A year after the best defensive team in the Mike Gundy era, the questions now surround how those few returning starters and second-year defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer can maintain that high level of efficiency.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Really one true champion?

    I decided to spare the colleagues in front of me – and myself from making a scene – by holding back flipping my table at the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days in Dallas.
    I had become exhausted by the constant use and misrepresentation by the Big 12 with their moniker of “One True Champion.” If they are going to live with the slogan, then they need to abide by that slogan.
    Perhaps its a simple case that they are keeping constant with the poor math of the 10-team Big 12 Conference.

    July 23, 2014

  • Hill expected to be used in multiple facets

    The picture became a little clearer recently of how Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Year Tyreek Hill will be utilized in the Oklahoma State offense.
    And the picture is rather wide.

    July 23, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • shock pic.jpg Time to rest

    Shock beats San Antonio before entering All-Star break

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Press Sports Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Stocks