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. Report: Kings sign former college star Marshall Henderson to training camp deal

    Aug 27, 2015, 11:59 PM EDT

    Marshall Henderson Marshall Henderson

    Henderson has played in Iraq and Qatar since going undrafted.

  2. Report: Russell Westbrook marrying longtime girlfriend this weekend

    Aug 27, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT

    Russell Westbrook Russell Westbrook

    Westbrook and Nina Earl have been together since college.

  3. Stephanie Ready to become first full-time female local NBA game color analyst

    Aug 27, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    From twitter.com/StephanieReady From twitter.com/StephanieReady

    As an NBA League Pass junkie I’ll tell you why I’m happy — she’s good.

  4. Remembering Darryl Dawkins’ 20 greatest dunks (VIDEO)

    Aug 27, 2015, 5:51 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwqxntu4mwq2otc2otkyntezmgm0njfmyjexywywmtdk AP

    If you’re keeping score at home, there are two shattered backboards on the list.

  5. Legendary Sixer, backboard-shattering dunker Darryl Dawkins dies at 58

    Aug 27, 2015, 4:25 PM EDT

    NBA House - Moynihan Station 2015 Getty Images

    Chocolate Thunder remained an ambassador of the game.

  6. Report: Ryan Hollins receiving interest from Kings, Wizards, Clippers

    Aug 27, 2015, 3:31 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    He probably will land on a roster somewhere. Eventually.

  7. Pelicans pull French center Alexis Ajinca out of EuroBasket

    Aug 27, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Minnesota Timberwolves Getty Images

    This is a blow to France, but they remain one of the deepest teams at EuroBasket and one of the favorites.

  8. Despite earlier report, Chuck Hayes will not sign with Rockets

    Aug 27, 2015, 1:54 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Houston’s salary cap picture changed before the deal got inked.

  9. Pistons’ Brandon Jennings says when healthy he’s fine with being sixth man

    Aug 27, 2015, 11:54 AM EDT

    Orlando Magic v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    Stan Van Gundy wants to play Brandon Jennings and Stephen Jackson together at times.

  10. Report: Clippers, Glen Davis still talking about potential deal

    Aug 27, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Two Getty Images

    At this point in his career Davis is the “break glass in case of emergency” big.

  11. LeBron James sells Miami home for cool $13.4 million

    Aug 27, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    LeBron James AP

    LeBron turned a $4.4 million profit.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (1970)
  2. D. Rose (1764)
  3. K. Bryant (1620)
  4. J. Smith (1542)
  5. T. Thompson (1368)
  1. K. Irving (1335)
  2. T. Wroten (1334)
  3. A. Davis (1269)
  4. F. Saunders (1246)
  5. J. Embiid (1218)