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NBA Playoffs, Thunder Lakers Game 4: That's what you call an old fashioned beat down

Apr 25, 2010, 2:27 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for Durant_dunk.jpgThis is exactly the kind of game you expect when the top seed Oklahoma City team gets those young, eighth seed Lakers on their home court. The better team wins big, runs them out of the building from the first tip. Just an old fashioned, no mercy beatdown.

Wait, what? The Lakers were the top seed? Really, because they didn’t look like it. The Thunder won 110-89 and the series now shifts back to LA tied 2-2. And with the Thunder having all the momentum.

It’s not that the Lakers didn’t have a plan — early in the game both Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant passed up wide-open threes to drive the paint. The Lakers worked very hard to get the ball inside to Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum early — 13 of the first 16 Lakers shots came in the paint. They are bigger and they were going to exploit it.

But those were heavily contested shots. The Thunder are long and can afford to pack the paint when the Lakers are shooting just 18.2 percent from three (as they did this game). Remember the Lakers were 10 of 31 from three the game before. As it was for much of this season, there is no reason to fear the Lakers outside shooters. The Thunder are showing them no respect.

Kobe, meanwhile, looks human. He looks banged up. He tried to be the facilitator, not taking his first shot until nearly three minutes into the second quarter. He said afterward he was managing the game, trying to get others involved. Bottom line is that he had just 10 shots and 12 points on the night. Kobe Bryant did not — maybe could not — take over.

The Thunder also knew what they wanted to do to  — run. And they did. Off turnovers (although there weren’t many of those), off missed shots (there were plenty of those) and even off made shots. Russell Westbrook led the way. Oklahoma City knows that in the open court, the Lakers are no match for their athleticism, so they ran every last chance they got.

Oklahoma City had 24 fast break points to the Lakers two. The Thunder controlled the pace and the Lakers couldn’t do anything to stop it.

All that running led to fouls — the Thunder were 42 of 48 from the free throw line. The Lakers got there 28 times, but only hit 17 (60 percent).

Some Lakers fans will look at that free throw disparity talk about the refs, but the Thunder got to the line because they were the aggressor. They earned their trips to the line by attacking.

Can the Thunder run all over the Lakers again in game 5? Yes.  But look for the Lakers to do things that will slow the pace, like make a couple shots. They will have a plan. But executing that plan is something else entirely.

  1. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2010 at 3:10 AM

    Hmmm, yeah a beatdown it was indeed, for sure. Every single Thunder player played like it was their lives at stake, if they did not win the game. The Lakers still have HCA, so hopefully at Staples Center they can come out with a win on Tuesday night. Kobe is broken (literally), and the Lakers need him to repeat again in Mamba mode, which his body just cannot due.

  2. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Apr 25, 2010 at 6:20 AM

    No excuses. Thunder played really well, and the Lakers didn’t look like much of a champ. LA’s free throws were atrocious! But I ain’t giving up on my team. LA all the way!

  3. Dyno - Apr 25, 2010 at 7:43 AM

    Bottom Line The lakers are a very lazy team overall. The Staple center crowd are the weakest in the league when it comes to cheerinbg during the game. We need to get the upper deck down to the bottm deck

  4. Bob Cousy - Apr 25, 2010 at 8:36 AM

    This is what happens when you’re coach mouths off and you’re ‘star’ player thinks it’s gonna be a walkover. Somebody is hungry and it’s not the ‘Hollywood Hoopsters’.

  5. celts 18 - Apr 25, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    If the C’s and the Thunder make the finals, i seriously don’t know who i’d root for more. I honestly would consider trading the C’s making it to the second round to see LA lose to the Thunder. This is an underdog story our country needs right now… Go C’s!!!

  6. ocgunslinger - Apr 25, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    Right now…..it will take an upset for the Lakers to pull this out. It will be no disgrace to lose to the Thunder because they are going to go far in the playoffs this year. They are young, hot and they believe in themselves. Tough combination to beat.

  7. Korey - Apr 25, 2010 at 9:23 AM

    How many times have we seen this same story played out?
    It’s like people forget basketball history.
    Teams play 10x better at home than they do on the road. This is especially true for young players.
    James Harden and friends played like crap in the Staples Center. They played great at home. Coincidence? No, it’s the NBA. The Thunder won 50 games, they aren’t a typical 41-win #8 seed.
    People get too swept up in “momentum” to realize that homecourt advantage really matters, especially for young teams.
    When the Thunder come to LA, and commence a brick-city-showcase the media will all lament how “they weren’t ready”. When they go home for game 6 and play better then they will say “they were ready, but just came up a bit short”.
    The predictable and senseless journalism is nauseating to say the least.

  8. OKC J - Apr 25, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    Home Court Advantage 10x Better???
    What games have you been watching. 10x better at home? Look at OKC’s road record compared to home victories. Now fast forward to playoffs, OKC lost by 8 gm1. and should have won gm 2. Face the fact’s LA is besides themselves with this next generation champs in the making and so is the NBA nation.The home court advantage didn’t put the bitch slap on LA last night. Lucky for the Laker Durant and Westbrook set out Q4 or the loss would have been 40. That’s skill my friend, not HCA.
    Thunder Up!

  9. FattCatt - Apr 25, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    OKC J,
    LMFAO!!!
    OKC NBA Champs, hmmm…now that has a ring to it!
    Let’s Go Thumder!

  10. The-Refs-Sucked! - Apr 25, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    Lakers were playing with five on eight. Say what you want about the Thunder making it to the line so many times because they were the aggressors. That’s a bunch of B.S. Thunder got 48 trips to the line, and the Lakers only 28? No offense to wrestling fans but the officials are turning the NBA into the WWE, a manipulated, phony, one-sided fiasco. Sure the Thunder has great talent so let them play without the whistles blowing every trip down court. Ridiculous!

  11. greenlynn - Apr 25, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    The Thunder are winning as a team. They have not forgotten that basketball is a TEAM sport.

  12. bhen74 - Apr 25, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    The lakers are being expossed they are lazy and dont play D

  13. rhino40 - Apr 25, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    I say go Thunder! I would love to see the upset and quite frankly I think Kobe could use a big fat slice of humble pie.

  14. lmao - Apr 25, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    Funny, in the same series Kobe scores 39 pnts and everyone says he’s done now. lol. Lakers in 6. Goodnight OKC.

  15. DCLAKERFAN - Apr 25, 2010 at 4:34 PM

    BEING A LONGTIME LAKER FAN I ADMIT IT DOESN’T LOOK TO GOOD RIGHT NOW FOR THE LAKERS. A WEAKNESS HAS BEEN EXPOSED BY OKC. RIGHT NOW THEY ARE BIENG RUN OFF THE COURT BY A THOROUGHBRED THUNDER TEAM. BUT REMEMBER DENVER LAST YEAR DID THE SAME THING. AND WHAT HAPPENED??? NO DOUT JACKSON AND KOBE NEED TO FIX THINGS QUICKLY AND I HAVE FAITH THEY CAN. THIS IS A TEAM THAT CAN AND NOW NEEDS TO RUN RUN RUN. I LUV FISH BUT IF HE SLOWS DOWN THE O HE NEEDS TO STEP BACK A LET SOMEONE ELSE RUN THE TEAM. OPEN UP THE GATES AND RIDE BABY RIDE!!!! GO LAKERS!! WE GOT YOUR BACK ON THE EAST COAST

  16. danny - Apr 25, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    GO THUNDER!!!!!

  17. Lion Woods - Apr 25, 2010 at 7:55 PM

    This is entertainment. There is little doubt the stars will be out for Game 5 and Jack, Diane, Magic and everyone else who wants to be seen will be seen and the Lakers will do their part and bask in the limelight of tinsletown and run the Thunder back to the Oklahoma shed from which they came. Young and upstart it was a good effort but the stars will align and Kobe & Co. will move on to the next round while the Thunder sit on the prarie proud of their effort.

  18. Jameson - Apr 25, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    I think the Thunder may have this one, and I think the majority of people would like to see the Lakers get humiliated back to the Stonr Age. They were last night — time to put the nail in the coffin.

  19. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Apr 26, 2010 at 4:17 AM

    Funny how people easily right off LA after the impressive wins by the Thunder in games 3 and 4. I heard the same verbal beatdowns against LA last year when the Rockets gave LA a run for their playoff money.
    Thunder, don’t be too sure of yourself. Win the series first, THEN start yakking.
    Till then, the Lakers are still the champs.

  20. okclaker - Apr 26, 2010 at 7:39 AM

    Amen to that brother. Don’t start planning the parade just yet OKC.

  21. Amy - Apr 26, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    Don’t worry – The Thunder are not too sure of themselves, they are playing hard because:
    1 – We can
    and
    2-Everyone said we couldn’t do it.
    Keep doubting them and taking crap and they will produce more and more and more. We had a better road record than home record this year anyway. Listen, the Lakers are the defending champs, but they need to start playing like it. They look like chumps and Westbrook is making Fisher look like an old fool! Don’t hate the Thunder because they are young, aggressive and determined.
    Go Thunder!!!!

  22. DSOULS 17 - Apr 26, 2010 at 10:29 AM

    The Lakers had just about the same amount of shots as the Thunder, the difference in the game is who is more aggressive to attack the rim or get on the free throw line. You can’t keep settling for jump shots that you continue to miss while the other team continues to attack the rim. If this continues the Lakers will lose this series, where are the bangers at on the Lakers? Bynum, Gasol, Odom, Bryant and Brown should all be attacking the rim when the opportunity presents itself. Attack the rim and get on the free throw line, get the Thunder players in foul trouble and you have a whole different game. What is Phil jackson telling these guys, hell everyone knows that!

  23. Damon - Apr 26, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    It was also most of their first playoff experiences ever, in the Staples Center, against the reigning champions. There is a homecourt advantage but game 2 was really close, game 3 Thunder won, and game 4 the Lakers get DESTROYED. NBA history or not, I would be worried if I was a Lakers fan, but i’m not. THUNDER UP!!

  24. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Apr 27, 2010 at 2:55 AM

    @Amy: Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate what the Thunder is doing. They’re doing what they should be doing in the past two games while my team isn’t doing it. (Geez, a lot of “doing” in two sentences). The Lakers deserved to lose in Games 3 and 4 because they weren’t the same team during those games, especially game 4. Now, I’m not taking away the Thunder’s superb play. Props to them, I say. But I still feel that a Laker’s A-game can beat a Thunder’s A-game. It’s a question of which Laker will show up. LA should pound the paint where they are superior, control the tempo and go for a deliberate half-court offense.

  25. Anonymous - Apr 29, 2010 at 10:17 PM

    @Foul Dwimmerlaik – I agree. I am a Thunder fan all the way, but we are young and growing. You are right, The Laker A-game can and has beaten our Thunder A-game, but I think we have had an impressive season and really look forward to what we will be able to do in the future if we maintain our go get-em attitudes here. It was as if the Lakers snoozed a little then in game 5 decided to wake up and get it going. The defending champs showed up to game 5 and I think the Thunder missed that flight. All in all it has been a great series to watch with each team being forced to establish a new plan of attack for each game. The best part is that Thunder fans are proud regardless! Thanks for a good discussion instead of some of the other crappy responses people post on here at times!

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