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. Warriors’ Nemanja Nedovic to miss FIBA World Cup

    Aug 20, 2014, 6:19 PM EDT

    Portland Trail Blazers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Nedovic had hoped to play for Serbia, but couldn’t get medical clearance.

  2. Kevin Durant: Stephen Curry ‘is terrible’ in NBA2K

    Aug 20, 2014, 5:07 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry Stephen Curry

    Video game Curry doesn’t come close to shooting as well as the real life version.

  3. Report: Suns discussing trade possibilities for Eric Bledsoe

    Aug 20, 2014, 4:12 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

    If Bledsoe decides to play for the qualifying offer, he’ll almost certainly bolt as an unrestricted free agent next summer.

  4. Nene says playing Anthony Davis is like fighting Dhalsim from Street Fighter

    Aug 20, 2014, 2:04 PM EDT

    dhalsim_street_fighter

    Strangest comparison ever. And pretty accurate.

  5. Report: Heat trying to add shooting guard, another big but for veteran minimum

    Aug 20, 2014, 12:09 PM EDT

    Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade AP

    Miami could use the depth, but at this point the pickings are slim.

  6. Report: Sixers may look to trade for Amar’e Stoudemire at this season’s deadline

    Aug 20, 2014, 11:17 AM EDT

    New York Knicks  v Philadelphia 76ers Getty Images

    Move would be purely financial for Philadelphia, but if Stoudemire is contributing at that time, Knicks may pass.

  7. Stephen Curry says he, Klay Thompson would be best NBA Jam duo in NBA

    Aug 20, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Best NBA Jam duo on a current team? Give me Durant and Westbrook.

  8. Lakers top 10 plays of the 2013-14 season (VIDEO)

    Aug 19, 2014, 10:29 PM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Highlights only serve as a reminder of just how bad things were in Los Angeles.

  9. Matt Bonner goes new car shopping, chooses Chevy

    Aug 19, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Matt Bonner

    Bonner now drives a 2014 Chevy Impala.

Featured video

Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (3109)
  2. P. George (2712)
  3. L. James (2678)
  4. D. Cousins (2662)
  5. K. Bryant (2241)
  1. S. Marion (2239)
  2. R. Allen (2229)
  3. A. Davis (2101)
  4. C. Anthony (2029)
  5. S. Curry (1914)