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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Oklahoma City Thunder 30 29 39 21 119
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 23 21 24 22 90
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Thunder clobber Lakers 119-90 in Game 1

By JEFF LATZKE


Posted May 14 2012 9:42PM

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Russell Westbrook had 27 points and nine assists, Kevin Durant added 25 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder blasted the weary Los Angeles Lakers 119-90 on Monday night in the opening game of the Western Conference semifinals.

The Thunder took a 15-point halftime lead, then opened the third quarter with a 15-2 blitz filled with crowd-pleasing 3-pointers and dunks.

Oklahoma City led by as many as 35 points, getting a measure of vengeance for the elbow Metta World Peace delivered to the head of the Thunder's James Harden three weeks earlier - and without needing dirty tactics to do it.

Thunder starting center Kendrick Perkins limped off after aggravating a hip injury from the first round.

Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum scored 20 points each for the Lakers and Bynum had 14 rebounds.

The Thunder committed a franchise-record four turnovers.

Two games after trailing by as many as 28 points in a blowout loss in Game 6 in Denver, it got even worse for the Lakers. They responded to that loss by beating the Nuggets 96-87 in a thrilling Game 7 on Saturday night.

They'll need another big bounce back for Game 2 in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.

While the Lakers were making a quick turnaround less than 48 hours after ending the first round, the Thunder had eight full days off following their first-round sweep of defending NBA champion Dallas.

It got out of hand just after halftime, in highlight-reel fashion. Durant lobbed the ball to Westbrook for a two-handed slam, then connected on a 3-pointer from the left wing to draw a timeout from Lakers coach Mike Brown.

That still didn't slow down Oklahoma City, which got what could have been a costly two-handed dunk from Perkins on its next trip and then another 3 from Durant before Thabo Sefolosha swiped the ball from Bryant and ran out for a layup that made it 74-46 with 8:39 left in the period.

Both coaches started going to their benches with 8 1/2 minutes left, and Los Angeles reserve Devin Ebanks ended up getting ejected with 2:18 to play after walking up to a scrum for the ball after the whistle. Official Greg Willard said at the scorer's table that he was ejected for "what he said" in drawing a technical foul. It ended up tying for the 12th-worst blowout in Lakers playoff history.

Perkins returned to the bench but did not come back into the game after getting hurt. He had missed most of the week of practice after straining a muscle in his right hip in the final game of the Dallas series.

The buildup to the game focused largely on it being the first meeting between the teams since World Peace gave Harden a concussion by elbowing him in the head three weeks ago, in the final stretch of the regular season.

World Peace got a seven-game suspension, returning just in time to help L.A. win Game 7 against Denver.

A sold-out crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena wasn't nearly as happy to see him back, although World Peace - who changed his name from Ron Artest - was hardly fazed by the chorus of boos that greeted him during pregame introductions or again whenever the ball came his way.

World Peace knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key amid boos the first time he touched the ball, set up a two-handed jam by Bynum and drilled another 3 within the first 2 1/2 minutes.

The Thunder turned an early six-point deficit around with a 19-7 run punctuated by Harden's driving layup that led to a three-point play and a 25-19 lead, and they never trailed again.

If the Lakers' legs were weary, it showed most on the defensive end. Oklahoma City shot 53 percent and the league's most turnover-prone team committed only one - Harden's failed alley-oop pass for Durant that banged off the glass and was grabbed by World Peace - while building a 59-44 halftime lead.

Notes: Bryant tied former teammate Shaquille O'Neal for the third-most playoff games in NBA history with 216. ... Perkins was called for a lane violation in the first quarter after arguing with Willard about a call and then walking up to his spot along the lane while Bynum was shooting. Bynum made both foul shots when awarded the extra chance. ... Toby Keith's daughter, Krystal, sang the national anthem.

Lakers take on the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday, May 14th at Chesapeake Energy Arena at 6:30PM. Catch all the action on TNT and 710ESPN.



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Points Bynum/Bryant 20
Rebounds Bynum 14, 4 OFF 10 DEF
Assists Blake 4
Steals World Peace 1
Blocks 3 tied 1
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike Brown:

Opening Statement:
“I have to give Oklahoma City credit. I thought they did a terrific job attacking the way we tried to defend pick and rolls. We didn’t do a good job of staying in our coverage right throughout the course of the game. (Russell)Westbrook and (Kevin) Durant got some shots that weren’t contested as well as we wanted them to. Our guards and our bigs had a little trouble with our pick and roll coverage tonight as well as our weak side, and it just opened up a lot of things for those two guys over the course of the game, but especially when they went on the runs. Then they got aggressive and started going downhill, not necessarily making buckets all the time, but getting to the free throw line while they were going downhill. But, you give them credit because they were extremely physical tonight and they did a good job of staying up in us, forcing our offense to look stagnant at times because of the physicality, and that’s something that we’re going to have to combat in the next game.”

Was tonight’s game the result of fatigue?:
“We got beat tonight. You can say anything you want to about the seven-game series and us having a day, or whatever, but bottom line is this is the playoffs and we have to come to play. We didn’t. We got beat. It’s one game, so we have to bounce back to the next one.”

On Russell Westbrook’s performance?:
“I thought he was good. I thought he was a good pick and roll early on. I thought he was good in the post as the game went along. He had a great performance on both ends of the floor.”

What do you have to do from keeping Durant and Westbrook from getting those types of looks again?:
“We have to do a better job of trying to execute pick and roll coverage in the way that we had talked about. If we can, hopefully that will limit them some. If we don’t, and they’re able to turn the corner like they did tonight, it’s going to be a tough night for us.”

Were you surprised at how quickly this thing got out of hand?:
“A little bit. It got out of hand quickly with those guys making pull up jump shots. We didn’t get contests on it and like I said, we didn’t execute pick and roll coverage all the time. But at times, it’s one of the toughest shots in the game when you feel like you know you have somebody coming behind you and someone stepping out in front of you. I have to give those guys credit. It’s something that Durant does get and Westbrook has shown he is capable of. Both of those guys hit it tonight.”




Andrew Bynum:

On if the Lakers left their energy in the past series:
“This team (Thunder) obviously had rest but they came out and hit shot after shot to get the lead. Sometimes, even when we would contest, they would still hit a bunch of shots.”

On what he and Pau Gasol talked about after the game:
“We were just talking about what we were going to do offensively as far getting us more involved in the high-low, because we have an advantage there and we have to get to it. They were being aggressive in trying to take away options. They obviously had seven days to study us, so they know our offense. We need to be aggressive.”

On if the series is going to be one-sided:
“We know it’s going to be back and forth. We need to make adjustments. We have a lot of tape to watch and we have to see exactly how they killed us and then try and correct it.”

On if the Thunder are ‘as good as advertised’:
“Obviously, they’re a good team but tonight they shot exceptionally well. We need to make defensive adjustments on them.”




Metta World Peace:

On the game:
“I mean, I thought we did ok. You know, it was a game, a game of adjustments and I thought we did ok. We played Denver at home also and they blew us out also. So we keep focusing.”

Ok is not going to do it with this team, how do you have to improve?
“I think that’s obvious. I think it’s obvious you have got to do better than ok. But we’ll be ok.”

Are you discouraged by how you played or do you just shake it off?
“No, not discouraged, not at all. We’ve been through, I mean just being here, I’ve been through more tough games. We should be ok.”

Did any of the crowd or booing affect you at all?
“I mean, I think the Oklahoma City fans do a good job of supporting their players and their team. Obviously, the city of Oklahoma has to be some of the best fans in the NBA. They took on a team that needed shelter and they were able to support their team and able to pay the players. So obviously they love basketball here.”




Kobe Bryant:

On containing Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant:
“We have to do a better job on screen and roll coverages. [The Thunder] were coming off screens, rising and getting great looks at the basket, so we have to do a much better job on that.”

On starting 7-for-8 and then falling behind:
“[The Thunder] came in extremely well prepared and moved their defense around extremely well. [The Thunder] set great screens and found a great rhythm.”




Scott Brooks:

Opening Statement:
“We played a good defensive game and offensively with only four turnovers. I thought a lot of guys stepped up tonight. Nazr (Mohammed) came in and gave us solid minutes. Nick (Collison) hit some timely shots. Russell (Westbrook), Kevin (Durant) and James obviously played a very good game. Our offense was good and we didn’t turn the ball over. That’s been a problem most of the season and the last series we did a good job of taking care of that, and we did it again tonight.”

On the bench tonight and Kendrick Perkins:
“Our bench was good, and they’ve been good all year. We’ve had guys step up throughout the season even when we had some injuries. Guys came in and filled their role. We did a really good job of defending. They had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, four on one possession and, in the second half, they only had three. That was a big point of emphasis going into this game. They’re a very good team. They’re big. They’re strong and they crash the boards. We wanted to make sure we put a body on them. Perk (Kendrick Perkins) re-aggravated his hip and came back on the bench. He was ready to play but we didn’t need him at that time. He’ll get some treatments and we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

On the team’s performance tonight:
“With the turnovers we’ve had throughout the season, it’s good to see the last series and tonight that we only had four turnovers. That’s huge. We’ve had four in the first six minutes of games sometimes. We did a great job taking care of the basketball. That’s one of the things that we talked about all year and we’ve really done a good job of that. Kobe Bryant is one of the best players to ever, ever play this game and all we want to do is make him take some tough shots, and he can make those tough shots. We did a good job on him, but it’s only one game. We need to do the same thing come Wednesday night.”

On different guys stepping up offensively and defensively:
“I thought DC (Daequan Cook) had good minutes. Naz came in and gave us good minutes when Perk re-aggravated his hip. Bynum is one of the best bigs in basketball and we did a good job of not giving him the easy opportunities. But he had a good game. Same thing with Gasol—we want to make sure that he doesn’t get a lot of easy shots, but he still had a good game. I thought our bench did a really good job of taking care of the basketball, holding each other accountable on defense and rebounding the ball.” Were you surprised about the domination of the game?:
“We play good basketball. Like I told the guys, it’s one game. It’s the first team to four that wins this series. Regardless if we won by one or 20, it doesn’t have any impact on Wednesday night with the same energy. We know that the Lakers are going to play much better.”




Thabo Sefolosha:

Talk about your defense on Kobe tonight?
“It’s always tough going against a guy like that. You have to be really focused on staying in front of him. Just making it tough on him.”

Does this moving forward mean anything?
“It means we are up 1-0, but you know there is a lot more basketball to be played so you know we aren’t going to get overly excited. But I think the first win is good to take, and we did what we were supposed to. Now we got to get back to work and worry about game two now.”




Russell Westbrook:

How you controlled the game tonight:
“I think it was a team effort. Everybody came out tonight and did a great job of distributing the ball, finding open guys, and getting easy shots. It was a good thing for us and we took care of the ball.”

Are you playing your best basketball of the year right now as a team?:
“I think we are doing a pretty good job. Like Kevin said, I think we could always play better. We’re just taking care of business and home court. For improvement, we are going to go back and watch tape to see what we can get better at.”

How do you feel this game 1 feels different from your previous game 1?:
“I just feel a little more experienced and a lot more comfortable. My team does a great job of getting me open, getting me to the spot and getting me affected. I’m just feeling a lot more comfortable in my fourth year now.”




Kevin Durant:

On playing so well after a long break:
“To be honest, I think we needed a few days off. With the way the season is going – we are almost playing every other day. So a few days did help. Coach (Brooks) did a great job of letting us go at it in practice by competing hard in practice. It got us ready. We came out tonight with a lot of energy. We have to do that the rest of the series. It’s going to be a tough series. I’m looking forward to it.”

Are you playing your best basketball of the year right now as a team?:
“To be honest, I think we could be better. We could do a lot of things better such as executing on the offensive end, helping each other out more on the defensive end and cutting down on our turnovers. We did a decent job tonight but we have to keep pressing. But, I don’t think we are the best right now. We can always get better and I think if we have that mindset, then we have a good chance. It’s all about growing and learning from our mistakes.”

Is the 2010 series against the Lakers fueling your development as a team?:
“That was two years ago. It was a great learning experience for us. Lakers are a tough team and they play us tough each time. We respect them a lot. I think the 2010 series, we made them respect us too. But at the same time, no matter who we play, we want to come out and play our game, which is defense first and playing together on the offensive end. At this point, it’s about us and how we can do well as a team. At the same time, we are always growing and always getting better.”




James Harden:

Thoughts on tonight’s game:
“We did a pretty good job on the defensive end and a great job of offensive rebounding. That was one of the big keys. We just tried to keep them off the boards. It felt great to be back on the court after a long time off.”

Thoughts on the 20 assists and four turnovers by the team tonight:
“Russell [Westbrook] and Kevin [Durant] did a great job of finding everyone and really controlling the ball. That was a key to the game.

Thoughts on the big run to start the third quarter:
“The first group did a great job of executing and getting a couple easy baskets and Kevin [Durant] hit a couple threes. Everyone helped out and did a great job, too.”

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Lakers - Thunder Preview

JEFF LATZKE


Metta World Peace made his return from a seven-game suspension in front of a home crowd eager for him to help the Los Angeles Lakers survive a first-round playoff scare and advance with a thrilling Game 7 victory.

His next stop doesn't figure to be nearly so friendly. The Lakers start the Western Conference semifinals Monday night at Oklahoma City in the teams' first meeting since World Peace - formerly known as Ron Artest - gave the Thunder's James Harden a concussion by hitting him in the head with his elbow.

Oklahoma City has had more than a week to anticipate the matchup after sweeping defending NBA champion Dallas in the first round, giving fans plenty of time to get fired up to welcome a player who became instantly infamous three weeks ago.

''Good, old-fashioned Southern hospitality. That's the type of reception that I expect that he'll get, and that's fair game,'' said former teammate Derek Fisher, now a bench player for the Thunder. ''The fans will be excited. I'm looking forward to being on this side of these fans this time at this point in the season.

''I can only imagine the amount of energy they have stored up. We'll have to properly use that energy. Can't get too caught up in it.''

With Harden leading the way, the Thunder insisted they're over the incident that happened in the Lakers' 114-106 double-overtime victory on April 22 in Los Angeles. Instead, they're focused on reaching the conference finals for a second straight year.

''What can I say? The focus is going out there and doing whatever it takes to win,'' Harden said after practice Sunday. ''I'm not worried about him or what he has to say.''

World Peace proclaimed after the Lakers' win over Denver the previous night that he doesn't shake the hands of substitutions, even his best friends. So Harden, the league's Sixth Man of the Year, certainly isn't getting one to go along with the personal apology he never got.

''Shaking hands is, like, so low on our concerns right now, it's not really an issue,'' Oklahoma City forward Nick Collison said.

''I think we're going to be ready to play.''

Starting center Kendrick Perkins went through Oklahoma City's practice Sunday for the first time since straining a muscle in his right hip in a Game 4 victory against Dallas eight days earlier.

Collison and Harden said they expect Perkins to play in Game 1, although coach Scott Brooks refuses to make a decision until at least Monday and possibly not until game time.

Perkins was active enough in practice to sweat through his T-shirt, and he appeared to be pain-free during a round of jump shots after practice. He was not made available to speak to reporters.

Beyond providing resistance to the Lakers' All-Star frontcourt tandem of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, he's also the team's primary enforcer if there's another dust-up.

''That's the only thing that we care about: It's the first to four who wins the series,'' Brooks said. ''The subplots, that's part of NBA basketball. You don't worry about that. If you focus on that, your attention, your focus is not where it needs to be.

''We understand what happened. It happened. We moved on weeks ago.''

That may not hold true for the sellout crowd expected at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

''That's not my concern. My concern is playing the game of basketball,'' World Peace said on TNT after the Lakers' Game 7 win.

''Everything else is not really - it's not important to me.''

Fisher has the unique perspective of having won five NBA titles with the Lakers before they traded him away this season. He bought out his contract with the Houston Rockets and signed with Oklahoma City in late March, and perhaps it was inevitable that he would face his former team now.

He agreed with Kobe Bryant's sentiment that the series would compare to playing against his brother, although he considered even those to be loaded words.

''Your brother oftentimes was the recipient of some of the hardest blows you ever delivered. I'm sure he's planning to deliver quite a few, and I'll be ready to deliver some as well,'' Fisher said. ''It's going to be fun to just have to compete against the best. That's what we want to be.''

Beating the Lakers may be the only way to take all the focus off what happened three weeks ago and put it back on the championship chase.

''Hopefully, he has the same feelings that we all have. It's a bad play. It should have never happened,'' Brooks said. ''But we're focused on playing basketball. It's not going to be between James and Ron. It's going to be about us playing good basketball as a team to beat that team.''

5/12/12
W LAL 96, DEN 87
5/10/12
L DEN 113, LAL 96
5/08/12
L DEN 99, LAL 96
5/06/12
W LAL 92, DEN 88
5/04/12
L DEN 99, LAL 84
Probable Starters
Lakers
#15 World Peace SF #35 Durant
#16 Gasol PF #9 Ibaka
#17 Bynum C #5 Perkins
#24 Bryant SG #2 Sefolosha
#7 Sessions PG #0 Westbrook
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Lakers Matt Barnes
(sprained right ankle) is probable.
Devin Ebanks
(middle & ring finger contusions, left hand) is probable.
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Eric Maynor
(torn right ACL is out.
Kendrick Perkins
(right hip muscle strain) is day-to-day.
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PLAYOFF SERIES
Game 1: 5/14 - LAL @ OKC
Game 2: 5/16 - LAL @ OKC
Game 3: 5/18 - OKC @ LAL
Game 4: 5/19 - OKC @ LAL
* Game 5: 5/21 - LAL @ OKC
* Game 6: 5/23 - OKC @ LAL
* Game 7: 5/27 - LAL @ OKC
REGULAR SEASON
Game 1: 2/22 - LAL @ OKC L 100-85
Game 2: 3/22- OKC @ LAL L 102-93
Game 3: 4/22 - OKC @ LAL W 114-106
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