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NBA Playoffs, Lakers Thunder game 5: Kobe brings the tough defense and the Lakers bring the blowout

Apr 28, 2010, 3:15 AM EDT

Bryant_Gasol.jpgKobe Bryant is too old. He’s too injured. He’s no longer explosive. He’s played to many minutes over too many years. He’s lost a couple steps. He’s not THAT Kobe Bryant anymore.

Don’t try to sell that to Thunder coach Scott Brooks.

“Kobe had an impact on the game the stat sheet doesn’t show,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “The guy was competing and set the tone defensively… He won the game with this toughness tonight.”

Kobe took on the job of stopping Russell Westbrook and sparked the Lakers best game of this season. It was over at half, frankly, but you have to play the full 48 so after extensive garbage time (like the entire fourth quarter) it ended 111-87 Lakers. Los Angeles now leads the series three games to two.

The Lakers have thrown a big punch, but not a knockout one — game six is Friday night back in the thunderous Ford Center. The Thunder will get up off the mat, the test goes to them to see how much fight they have left.

After film session on Monday Bryant asked Phil Jackson if he could guard Westbrook, the strong and speedy point guard that had torn up the Lakers defense for two games. Westbrook had triggered a Thunder fast break that ran past the Lakers and made them look old in tying up the series.

The switch changed the defensive attitude of the Lakers. After giving up 61 points at the rim in two games in Oklahoma City — largely on transition plays — the Lakers held the Thunder to 7 fast break points in this game. Another part of that was a strategy that had Fisher go in to rebound and Ron Artest rotate back to be on defense. But the Lakers as a team hustled back and were physical (something the referees were letting go).

“It was going to be contested,” Kobe said of the Lakers defensive tone. “They weren’t going to just get to drive the ball to the basket and get layups and dunks uncontested. They were going to have to make tough shots.”

In the half-court, shooting jumpers, the Thunder have struggled all series. Tuesday night was no different. The Lakers got the game they wanted and raced out to a 14-1 lead — and unlike the fast lead in game three in Oklahoma City, the Lakers never let the Thunder back in. In the first half, the Thunder were 6 of 21 on jump shots. Nothing would fall. Nothing would change. It was just one of those nights for Oklahoma City.

On offense, the Lakers had the best ball movement they have had in months. Swinging side-to-side opened up passing lanes inside. It also opened up driving lanes for Kobe, who fed his big men. Kobe added he was good with that.

“I’ll tell you what, if I didn’t have Pau, Andrew, the crew that I have, I’d score 45 and everybody’d say ‘he shoots too much’,” Bryant said. “I have a great crew, I don’t need to do that. I can pick my poison, so when I get in the paint teams have to make choices. If they play me I’ll pass to my guys and they’ll have a big night. If not I’ll have a big night. It’s as simple as that.”

The Thunder tried everything – even a zone defense for a while in the third — but nothing worked. Gasol had 25, Bynum had 21. This was the Lakers night. This was Kobe’s night.

Friday night… that remains to be seen. The Oklahoma City fans will come to play, and Kevin Durant admitted the team really feeds on that. The Lakers will throw another big punch and try to end this thing. What remains to be seen is if the young Thunder are good enough counterpunchers to extend the series to game seven.

  1. Atomsk - Apr 28, 2010 at 3:52 AM

    Game ended 111 – 87, or did I miss something?

  2. PeteRock - Apr 28, 2010 at 3:53 AM

    Bryant is not the man! And will never ever ever be like mike….lol
    Mike didn’t have ShaQ or the great players Bryant has playing with him now. Westbrook shoud have made Bryant run around like crazy.
    They should have put wig and a dress on Westbrook, Bryant would thought it was that chick again and choked, then start crying like a little girl again.

  3. please... - Apr 28, 2010 at 6:35 AM

    Wow…that was insightful. You sound like a complete moron with your trolling comments.

  4. T - Apr 28, 2010 at 7:09 AM

    So you are saying Scottie Pippen (7 time all star) and 8 time All defensive First team is a nobody. The 50 Greatest Players in NBA History Scottie Pippen. What a tool.

  5. scottyp - Apr 28, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    ur an idiot. never talk again. kobe IS the next mike.

  6. Vic - Apr 28, 2010 at 10:20 AM

    He isn’t asking to be the “next Mike”- he’s just being Kobe. Let him play his game

  7. Spencer - Apr 28, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    Kobe And the Lakers did it up last nite and they’ll win again and put the team called Thunder aka Super Sonice back in Oklahoma they weak and Lakers are going to another NBA Championship and the greatest match that i want to see in NBA Championship is Cavs Vs. L.A. Lakers that would be good but L.A. LAkers would come out and win the whole deal.

  8. JBP - Apr 28, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    One better take a good look at Kobe. If you never saw MJ in person in regards to playing the game of basketball, Kobe is the closest thing to MJ. If you don’t believe me, ask the players who had to play against Kobe and ask the ones that played with MJ for their opinions. Lebron, DWade and the rest of the so called top tiers in the league, can’t hang the the Kobester, PERIOD.

  9. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Apr 28, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    And all of a sudden, I don’t see any Thunder fans posting with their pathetic swagger like they did in the previous thread when they won Game 4. Fakers my golden brown gluteus maximus. Who are the fakes now?
    What a jokelahoma.

  10. try again - Apr 28, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    Championships = 16
    Conference titles = 30
    Division titles = 32
    supersonics/thunder has what?? = zilch / nothing

  11. Anonymous - Apr 28, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    Game Five: Now THAT’S the Lakers team I have been waiting to see all season. Stifling D. Dominating on Offense. Coordinated teamplay. Actually playing up to their talent. Showing up ready to do business. Able to “solve” their opponent. Multiple starters in double digits. Thank you, Lakers. Nice to meet you. What took you so long?

  12. Basketball Fan - Apr 28, 2010 at 12:13 PM

    Your an idiot…Jordan did not nor ever has done it on his own. The concept of Team is what wins championships. If you want singles play tennis or run track. Moron….

  13. Barbara C - Apr 28, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    Game Five: Now THAT is the Lakers team I have been waiting to see all season. Stifling D. Dominating Offense. Focused, coordinated team play. The starters in double digits. Able to “solve” their opponent. Best game of the season for the Lakers, indeed. What took them so long, and why wouldn’t they show up before this – if for no other reason than personal pride in their game and professionalism.
    IMHO, all the coasting and lollygagging and inconsistency during the season only gave the other teams hope and a blueprint to beat them. In a tough conference? Instead of showing their muscle and bringing their A game?

  14. Dennis - Apr 28, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    How easily everybody forgets what Mike was like early in with Chicago … exactly like Kobe was, shoot, shoot, shoot. However, Mike learned he couldn’t win a championship by himself and Kobe has realized that also, a few years back. Mike did whatever he had to do to win and so does Kobe. So the next time somebody calls Kobe a ball hog, just remember back to MJ early in his career.

  15. Dennis - Apr 28, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    How easily everybody forgets what Mike was like early in with Chicago … exactly like Kobe was, shoot, shoot, shoot. However, Mike learned he couldn’t win a championship by himself and Kobe has realized that also, a few years back. Mike did whatever he had to do to win and so does Kobe. So the next time somebody calls Kobe a ball hog, just remember back to MJ early in his career.

  16. minnie1 - Apr 28, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    Loved the game was there last night and the Staples Center was energized. Leborn James hope you read this my friend, Kobe Bryant knows how to play a TEAM SPORT and not be selfish. He used the other players and played some much needed Big D. The big men dominated inside.

  17. DCLAKERFAN - Apr 28, 2010 at 1:38 PM


  18. Omnius - Apr 28, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    Kobe Bryant and the real Lakers showed up last night, evidently they haved turned the “On” switch back on and now it’s time for them to clean out the Blunder Friday night. It was gratifying to see the Lakers hitting on all cylinders again, now all they have to do is keep that up for a few more series and we get to celebrate yet another championship in LA.

  19. BIGBRUCE11047 - Apr 28, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    I wrote a comment yesterday that I thought that the Lakers would come out firing on all eight cylinders and would take Game 5 by quite a bit. Now they will go back to Oklahoma City and Game 6 won’t be a rout but they will put away the Thunder and advance to the second round. Usually when a team loses Game 5 to go one game down, it takes the momentum out of the team and they never get it all together again. In order for the Thunder to take the series back to L.A., the Thunder will have to take Kobe out of his rhythm and cut his points output. Until Friday night, Go Lakers!!

  20. Kobe apologist - Apr 28, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    PeteRock You’re the poster child for a brain is a terrible thing to waste.

  21. Crackalakin - Apr 28, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    Kobe is the best all around player in the NBA period. How did Lebron become clutch, and learn how to play defense? By watching Kobe. The only mistake Kobe made was allowing his Olympic teammates to see his methods, cause Dwade, Lebron, and Mello ripped him off and became better.

  22. rattlerfan - Apr 28, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    supersonics/thunders,hmmmm they have at least 2 NBA championships

  23. leadbone - Apr 28, 2010 at 2:50 PM

    Supersonics won the championship i believe in 1976 with freddie downtown brown and lenny wilkins.

  24. kobeness - Apr 28, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    kobe did not face degenerates, 6′ tall.. and under.. he’s playing vs players like lebron, wade, carmelo, carter… and so on and so forth.. back then jordan’s fiercest opponent was dumars and starks.. and hornacek and stockton.. short pt guards.. which made jordan a missmatch to every team without a 6’5″+ shooting he faded all the time.. and when you would put a forward on him, blow right by them..
    jordan had pippen, grant, rodman, and pure shooters like paxton and kerr.. only weakness was the center.. but his teams were no slouchs!!

  25. nicawin - Apr 28, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    Now thats got to be some of the dumbest crap ive heard yet. Mj didnt have what?! ok less name them scottie p(hall of fame 50 greatest), d rodman (one of the best defensive and rebounders EVER), Kerr (CLUTCH), Paxson (clutch), grant (beast), toni k (hall of famer)!! Man stop it!!!!

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