Skip to content

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

Apr 22, 2012, 9:47 PM EST

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Jimmy Butler even plans to play defense in the All-Star Game

    Jan 30, 2015, 4:29 PM EST

    BKN-NBA-BULLS-LAKERS Getty Images

    “So if you see me diving on the floor and people say ‘what is he doing?’ I can’t help but be the player that I am.” —Jimmy Butler on playing in the All-Star Game

  2. LeBron James reportedly asked Adam Silver for longer All-Star break, fewer back-to-backs

    Jan 30, 2015, 2:09 PM EST

    2012 Sports Illustrated Sportsman Of The Year Award Presentation - Arrivals Getty Images

    NBA Commissioner has delivered on All-Star Break. Back-to-backs next?

  3. Tyson Chandler, better than ever, thinking legacy

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:49 PM EST

    Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Will center stick with Mavericks this time?

  4. Mike Dunleavy is smooooth

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:11 PM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Sliding into your DMs like…

  5. DeMarcus Cousins wins.

    Jan 30, 2015, 11:33 AM EST

    Kings center waits five years, burns Clay Travis for tweet

  6. Kobe Bryant on if he returns next season: “Yeah, that’s the plan”

    Jan 30, 2015, 9:34 AM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Did anyone think he would get injured and say, “nah, I don’t want to fight through this” and walk away?

  7. Report: Magic close to firing Jacque Vaughn

    Jan 30, 2015, 8:37 AM EST

    Orlando Magic v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Already facing scrutiny, Vaughn oversaw 15-point loss to Bucks last night

  8. One day after having surgery, Kobe Bryant came to see Pau Gasol

    Jan 30, 2015, 2:48 AM EST

    BKN-NBA-BULLS-LAKERS Getty Images

    “I really appreciate him coming, I didn’t expect it at all.” —Pau Gasol

  9. Report: Magic haven’t ruled out firing Jacque Vaughn in-season

    Jan 29, 2015, 10:45 PM EST

    Jacque Vaughn Jacque Vaughn

    Management is displeased with their underperformance.

  10. Lakers pass out “Thanks Pau” shirts, have video tribute for return of Gasol

    Jan 29, 2015, 10:02 PM EST

    Pau shirt front

    “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”

Featured video

Who should be All-Star Game reserves?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. C. Anthony (7893)
  2. D. Howard (7486)
  3. R. Rubio (7058)
  4. K. Bryant (6967)
  5. K. Walker (6617)
  1. K. Martin (6500)
  2. H. Whiteside (6460)
  3. N. Batum (6366)
  4. K. Durant (6302)
  5. T. Jones (6057)