Skip to content

Lakers look to find their old selves, avoid Game 5 elimination by Thunder

May 21, 2012, 6:34 PM EDT

Serge Ibaka, Russell Westbrook, Metta World Peace, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol

Two years ago, when they won the title in 2010, the Lakers were the team that came back and won games like the one they lost Saturday. Back then it was the Lakers closing on a 25-7 run and getting the defensive stops. It was Kobe Bryant hitting the big shots. It was their opponents buckling under pressure and making bad passes or taking bad shots. Meanwhile Lakers role players stepped up and made plays.

Now, the script is flipped. The Thunder are the better team and in this series they have been the more poised at the end of games. The Thunder athletes are “gambling” according to the Lakers, but when it works we call that “making plays.” The Lakers were not. In Game 4 Kobe was 2-10 in the fourth quarter and took the offense out of rhythm too much, Pau Gasol made a horrific pass and the Lakers never adjusted to Andrew Bynum being fronted in the post.

The Lakers seem to be eroding, much as we saw against Dallas last year when the Lakers were swept out of the second round of the playoffs. Chemistry issues between Kobe and Pau Gasol are flaring up. Based on history, you expect that if the Thunder can get up by about 10 at some point in Game 5 they can run away with it.

Still, the Lakers could win Game 5. This series has been close. They know the formula — slow down the game and don’t let the Thunder get easy transition points. Los Angeles needs to not let Westbrook penetrate off the pick-and-roll and force the Thunder to their second options. Help on Kevin Durant but be smart about it.

And the Lakers need to use Gasol wisely on offense. Mike Brown has not really handled him well all season. As Andrew Bynum emerged and thanks to the Lakers lack of outside shooting Gasol became a floor-spacing facilitator not a guy who got his numbered called. Bynum got the rock on the block, Kobe just took touches wherever he wanted, and Gasol was left to fend for himself. Which never really works as he is passive in that situation by nature.

The Lakers need to run sets for him, get him going early, force the Thunder to adjust then take advantage of the mismatches. Gasol and Bynum need to own the glass. They need to be big forces on defense.

But after the last two series, do you really see the Lakers doing that for 48 minutes on the road? Exactly.

Latest Posts
  1. Former NBA All-Star Vin Baker training to be Starbucks manager

    Jul 28, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Vin Baker AP

    He’s been sober four years, which is most important.

  2. Report: Michael Jordan shot down Boston draft-day effort to get Charlotte No. 9 pick

    Jul 28, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    Michael Jordan Michael Jordan

    Did Michael Jordan hijack the draft process in Charlotte again?

  3. Wisconsin State Assembly passes Bucks arena deal, clearing the way for Gov. Walker to sign

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:54 PM EDT

    Scott Walker Scott Walker

    Walker is expected to sign the bill to allocate funds for a new arena.

  4. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov: “We had a really good offseason.”

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:32 PM EDT

    Mikhail Prokhorov Mikhail Prokhorov

    The Nets added solid role players in addition to re-signing Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young.

  5. Report: Clippers center Ekpe Udoh signs one-year deal in Turkey

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

    Ekpe Udoh Ekpe Udoh

    Udoh played five seasons with the Warriors, Bucks and Clippers.

  6. Matt Barnes on Serge Ibaka: “He’s just dirty.”

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:59 PM EDT

    Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green

    Barnes hasn’t forgotten Ibaka’s altercations with Blake Griffin.

  7. Karl-Anthony Towns: I want Kevin Garnett to teach me “how to be a champion”

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:54 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Minnesota Timberwolves Getty Images

    Garnett came out to Summer League practices to work with Towns.

  8. Mason Plumlee rapping? Yes, Mason Plumlee rapping. (VIDEO)

    Jul 28, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    Mason Plumlee with a money gun shooting $100s.

  9. James Ennis allows Heat to push back decision on him until opening night

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:40 AM EDT

    Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers Getty Images

    Ennis will get the chance to prove his case in training camp.

  10. Gregg Popovich missed games last November due to heart procedure

    Jul 27, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    150728_GreggPopovich Getty Images

    Larry Brown said the condition had Popovich thinking about retirement.

  11. Larry Bird says Stephen Curry, himself in mix for best deep shooter ever

    Jul 27, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT

    Larry Bird Larry Bird

    Bird also says Jordan would destroy him one-on-one right now.

  12. Report: Heat will pick up contract of Tyler Johnson, as expected

    Jul 27, 2015, 6:32 PM EDT

    Tyler Johnson AP

    James Ennis seems on the bubble with Miami.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (3352)
  2. S. Curry (2978)
  3. K. Durant (2380)
  4. J. Fredette (2311)
  5. B. Haywood (2272)
  1. L. James (2223)
  2. I. Thomas (2191)
  3. T. Hansbrough (2189)
  4. C. Copeland (2070)
  5. A. Davis (1905)