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Lakers get huge double overtime win over Thunder…. without Harden

Apr 22, 2012, 9:47 PM EDT

Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Russell Westbrook

The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday, 112-106.

In five years, that’s all that will remain from this game, in searched box scores. Those are the facts. But what happened is such a bigger story.

I’ve been sitting here struggling to find a way to accurately portray this game. Can you deny that the Lakers played a fantastic round of basketball down the stretch, with Kobe Bryant putting in a virtuoso performance even for him? You can’t. Can you ignore the fact that the Lakers not only took out the Thunder’s third best player, but a player who specifically would have helped the Thunder hold on to an 18 point lead late in the game by not committing turnovers and creating offense, as is his role? You can’t. Can you ignore the work of Jordan Hill? You can’t. Can you ignore that MWP’s actions handicapped the Thunder and the Lakers still needed double-overtime, a terrible night from Durant, and an “Oh My God”-awful night from Westbrook to survive? You can’t.

It’s all these things. This is the NBA. It’s complicated, it’s dramatic, and it’s intense. It’s playoff season.

Ron Artest’s elbow to the head of James Harden was part of why the Lakers won. It wasn’t the entirety. Let’s do bullet-points, because honestly, my brain’s fried from that thriller.

  • Again, Kobe Bryant played one of his best games of the season. He went into hero mode, to be certain. There were bad shots. But for the most part, he worked Thabo Sefolosha down and cranked it over him at the elbow or wing. They weren’t hoist-em-up 40-footers. He also posted and re-posted Gasol and found Steve Blake. He shut down Russell Westbrook by forcing him to the worst spots on the floor. When Bryant plays like that, the Lakers are nearly unstoppable.
  • James Harden’s primary contributions are running an efficient offense and thereby limiting turnovers, creating open looks, and being able to score. Down the stretch, the Thunder needed cohesive offense and a few more scores to win in regulation, or overtime. Or double overtime. Harden wouldn’t have stopped Kobe Bryant. A nuclear weapon wasn’t stopping Kobe Bryant Sunday. But he might have given the Thunder a lift in their biggest area of concern, offense.
  • Jordan Hill’s performance speaks volumes. His rebound rate was exceptional. He gave the effort the Lakes needed and did not get from Andrew Bynum. Hill was a toss-in for the Fisher trade and yet made a massive contribution in a key game for the Lakers.
  • Pau Gasol‘s mid-range game was highly effective over Serge Ibaka, while attempts to go inside failed.
  • Kevin Durant was off today. He got good looks, took some bad shots, but like Kobe, they’re shots he can hit. 11-34 from the field, the most shots he has ever taken.
  • Russell Westbrook was also off. Bryant did a great job on him defensively, but the pull-up jumpers off the pick and roll are a shot that he’s going to hit at a higher clip than 3-22. The Thunder could have really used another option down the stretch. Like a talented shooting guard who can run an offense, score, distribute, and make plays. Someone with a beard who… oh, right.
  • Steve Blake was massive for the Lakers. When he hits those corner threes, the Lakers’ offense is a different animal.

So to review: The Lakers got a monster win that clinched no-worse-than-4th for them in the West. With Harden, without Harden, it was a win. That’s what matters.

As for a playoff series? If we’re to use Sunday’s game as a model, the Lakers just need to make sure Durant and Westbrook shoot 14-56, that Stave Blake hits monster threes, that Jordan Hill gives a huge performance, that Devin Ebanks makes critical plays, that Kobe Bryant goes off at an even higher than normal level, and that James Harden is knocked out by an illegal elbow shot to the head.

Like everything in the NBA, it’s complicated.

The playoffs start in five days.

  1. thevza - Apr 22, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    Some items conveniently left off the list:
    -Lakers lost their best perimeter defender who helped frustrate Durant early, namely MWP
    -L.A. missed 13 free throws, mostly in the second half
    -25 Offensive rebounds by L.A., and all 9 players who were on the floor had at least one, and all but one of those players each grabbed at least total 5 boards! Impressive team rebounding which was a huge part of the W.
    -Gasol was one assist shy of his second triple-double of the week
    -OKC’s bench was actual outscored by the weaker Laker bench 38-29

    So, Mr. Moore, don’t make it seem like this game was another “miracle on ice” for L.A. to pull off the win. That being said, OKC is the better team and will probably win in a playoff series between these two, but the gap between them is not as large as you imply.

  2. allball23 - Apr 22, 2012 at 10:59 PM

    The lakers got Ron Artest to come back and take out Harden to help them get the W. Westbrook and Durant both had terrible games. The Thunder will be fine once Harden comes back.

  3. lakerade - Apr 22, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    Wake up, Bynum.

    • rexismybff - Apr 22, 2012 at 11:28 PM

      Oh, he was awake alright. He just doesn’t get any touches at all when Kobe is back on the floor. They relegate him either to garbage touches, or to the end of the bench.

      • cinnalocks - Apr 23, 2012 at 9:56 AM

        You are foolish. Kobe passed well yesterday and for all of you talking trash about Kobe he is now shooting 43% fg for the season Durant is 49% …Kobe shoots the ball on an average of 4 shots a game more that Durant. Does Durant gun too. Bynum was on the bench because there was a match up issue and he does not run on defense. Bynum is lazy and needs to be pushed Jordan Hill is now pushing him. Lets see how he responds. Kobes shots help win the game. You cannot distort the facts but your thinking process appears to be somewhat distorted.

      • Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 23, 2012 at 11:31 AM

        He wasn’t hustling and Brown benched him, rightfully. Didn’t even sniff the court in the second half. You Kobe haters have run out of things to hold against him so now you outright FABRICATE things that didn’t take place in order to feed your hate. Incredible.

  4. rexismybff - Apr 22, 2012 at 11:26 PM

    I thank the Lakers for taking care of business at home, and basically handing the #1 West seed to my Spurs.

    But… aside from the Ron Artest “assault and battery” [call it what it is – it’s not an “elbow” or a “basketball play” – it’s pure felonious assault], the Lakers have a lot of other areas that were exposed:

    1. They can’t count on a bunch of crazy, off-balance 3’s from Blake and Kobe at the ends of games to save their bacon every night
    2. Bynum was a stud while Kobe was out for 7 games, and now that Kobe is back and the ball runs through #24 on every play instead of #17, Bynum has completely disappeared. He isn’t even rebounding anymore. Not good.
    3. Don’t count on Hill being a disruptive force in the playoffs. He seemed to surprise the Thunder. However, teams in the playoffs will have tape on him and will simply force him into bad spots on the court.

    All-in-all, about 40 minutes of horrible basketball by the Lakers, and 8 minutes plus two overtimes of crazy shots falling in. Plus, one of their starters went insane on the court, and was ready to fight everyone. Not a recipe for a deep playoff run.

    • passerby23 - Apr 23, 2012 at 2:25 AM

      I totally agree – not to mention, the Thunder handed this game to the Lakers on a silver platter when it was beginning to look like their third dominant victory over the Lakers of the season. All they had to do was hit one or two very makeable shots in the 4th quarter and the game is over and went completely cold. The turnovers and lack of inside play are going to hurt the Thunder in the playoffs I believe though. I’m taking the Spurs to win the west.

    • tsi431 - Apr 23, 2012 at 7:14 AM

      MWP got elbowed in the face earlier in the game and it was payback, plain and simple.

      The fact you thought what MWP did was assualt and battery shows your ignorance. If you go by the book, heck guarding another player is technically battery. It was an elbow, no way around it.

      Off balance 3’s is all Kobe ever takes. Don’t you watch basketball at all? its all about separation and getting that 2 feet of shooting space. Steve Blake is just so awful OKC left him wide open, thus allowing his easy 3’s to drop.

      Jordan Hill playing this well is perfect for the Lakers. We needed a good backup center when Bynum is on the bench, and now we have one.

    • cinnalocks - Apr 23, 2012 at 10:01 AM

      Bynum was a non factor because he blew easy shots, did not play d and did not run down the court when they were not on offense. Not to mention he could not stay with Perkins, Durant or any other Thunder big. Bynum does not run the court. The Thunder runs up and down the court thus the substitute in Jordan Hill.

      Mr Hill did not require the ball or any plays run for him. He played almost an equal amount of minutes as did Bynum and ended up with a double/double of 15/14. Bench Bynum whenever he does not run the court and replace him with Hill. It is on Bynum. NOT KOBES FAULT IF BYNUM DOES NOT EXERT HIMSELF….HE IS A BIG BABY STILL.

  5. mungman69 - Apr 23, 2012 at 12:45 AM

    After the World War episode the game was crap. Didn’t you watch.

  6. jsharqawi - Apr 23, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    Wait what?! I mean yeah, Harden leaving in the second quarter hurt the Thunder….. But what about MWP’s 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 assist in 18 minutes, “You can’t deny that.” I mean let’s not get a head of ourselves here, It’s not like Lakers were excited to lose him either. With Jordan Hill and Devin Ebanks both playing about 30 minutes a piece, this was an old fashion meltdown. Period. As a Laker fan I have experienced this plenty of times lol. The Thunder are competiting for a championship, They’re still a very very good team. They just need to move on a prepare for the playoffs…

  7. lifted213 - Apr 23, 2012 at 1:01 AM

    If you’d like to argue that the Lakers won because of no Harden in the second half, you can also argue the Lakers won without Bynum in the second half. Knock it off, Matt.

  8. abchome - Apr 23, 2012 at 1:37 AM

    Unfortunately MWP completely ruined this game, and probably the playoffs of both teams to some extend. What a shame!

    • cinnalocks - Apr 23, 2012 at 10:03 AM

      Learn the language if you choose to post….the proper word is EXTENT not extend….extend your knowledge to some extent before you come online showing us how much you DO NOT KNOW.

      • jsharqawi - Apr 23, 2012 at 11:18 AM

        Seriously cinnalocks, dont be that guy….

  9. dspohn55 - Apr 23, 2012 at 2:50 AM

    Virtuoso performance by Kobe? 9 of 26 is hardly virtuoso

    • cinnalocks - Apr 23, 2012 at 10:05 AM

      Yeah well we won and Durant nor Westbrook shot very well either….Matter of fact it was Westbrook who was jacking up shots with few results…..amazing how biased and blind we can be when unchallenged.

      • Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 23, 2012 at 11:37 AM

        Virtuoso includes making several CLUTCH shots down the stretch. Kobe haters resort to citing FG% game in and game out (and ignore the 13-24 nights, conveniently) because they know they sound foolish still crying “rape” a decade later. Embarrassing set of human beings.

  10. butterednuts86 - Apr 23, 2012 at 3:13 AM

    And it’s also funny when I read about Kobe ballhogging when he only took 12 shots in SA and this game he had to take over cause crybaby Bynum wasn’t hustling to jump two inches off the ground to get a rebound…..

    • jimeejohnson - Apr 23, 2012 at 1:22 PM

      Kobe made some amazing shots, even for him, especially that running one hand 3-pointer from the top of the key. Kobe made shots with a defender right up in his face. I’m no Laker fan, and I detest the LOSERS who defend Metta World War. But anyone who knows this game knows Kobe is as clutch as anyone ever has been, ever! His defenders have absolutely no chance when he is on his game, and unlike LeBron, Kobe wants the ball and knows exactly what to do with it when the game is on the line. Kobe is, indeed, one of the all-time greats.

      Metta World War: hero to SmeLL-A LOSERS!

      • bozosforall - Apr 23, 2012 at 2:08 PM

        Kevin Garnett is no less of a thug, gimmejohnson.

  11. kobesmisstress - Apr 23, 2012 at 4:34 AM

    OKC isn’t mature enough to win a championship yet… Especially with a point guard like Westbrook who wants to take the shine from Durant and take bad shots.. Always trying to be the hero.. They’ll be ready in a couple years… Maybe

  12. davecotuit - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:23 AM

    i m so sick and tired of the damn lakers!! it doesn t matter though because the spurs will CLEAN

    • cinnalocks - Apr 23, 2012 at 10:07 AM

      I love to see post like yours…….L.A.K.E.R.S.

  13. jumpingpolarbear - Apr 23, 2012 at 5:57 AM

    Great game. Really got me in Playoff mode :)

  14. acdc363 - Apr 23, 2012 at 8:10 AM

    I wish I had MWP to take out an opposing team’s third best player so my team could win games too!

    • cinnalocks - Apr 23, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      Wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which one fills up first. Okay?

  15. mnsadsportsfan - Apr 23, 2012 at 8:11 AM

    nba bounty gate? lock up metta world peace dude is a maniac!

    • cinnalocks - Apr 23, 2012 at 10:10 AM

      I am glad he is on my team.

  16. 1historian - Apr 23, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    Artest is a psycho and a thug.

    • cinnalocks - Apr 23, 2012 at 10:09 AM

      so what….I am glad he is on my team.

  17. omniusprime - Apr 23, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    Jordan Hill played extremely well yesterday beating the Thunder, turning them in the Blunder in the 4th quarter. I a lost gave up on the Lakers but kept coming back to watch how they were faring in the 4th quarter and then kept watching as they made an improbable comeback. I kept wondering why Bynum and Barnes were on the bench during the overtimes but it seems that Blake and Hill had things covered. I sure hope that Hill gives the Lakers what McRoberts and Murphy have failed to do, a decent third big player.

    The elbow the player formerly known as Ron Artest threw was just plain stupid but he doesn’t deserve to be suspended for more than one game, those idiot announcers like Van Gundy are just big crybabies. Showed the Blunder they had better get tough when playing the Lakers in the playoffs, a lesson the Lakers learned from the Celtics.

    • therealroman - Apr 23, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      loved the comeback too but you gotta be real man, look at the tape that was a nasty play by metta so he should be banned for a couple…i mean this is not the 80’s anymore, rules and handling shit like this changed, now that elbow was clearly intentional and super-hard. i say they’ll rule him out for a lot of games

  18. oside760 - Apr 23, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    i will never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever like or root for the thunder again. clippers coulda been in 1st place, but no. oklahoma city sucks and all they’re good at is being rednecks

    • oside760 - Apr 23, 2012 at 12:15 PM


  19. lakerluver - Apr 23, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Of course the Kobe haters point out his shooting percentage and ignore the fact that he made big shots when it counted most! AND, he shut down OKC’s 2nd best player to boot!! Keep hating, haters!!

  20. bozosforall - Apr 23, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    As for a playoff series? If we’re to use Sunday’s game as a model, the Lakers just need to make sure Durant and Westbrook shoot 14-56, that Stave Blake hits monster threes, that Jordan Hill gives a huge performance, that Devin Ebanks makes critical plays, that Kobe Bryant goes off at an even higher than normal level, and that James Harden is knocked out by an illegal elbow shot to the head.

    Or just get Bynum and Sessions to play much better than they did on Sunday. Way to overanalyze the game, Matt Moore.

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