Lakers Gameday | 04/18/10 | Thunder

ROUND 1 GAME 1 | APRIL 18 | SUN | 12:00 PM | STAPLES CENTER
79
87
GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Oklahoma City Thunder 13 26 17 23 79
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 27 20 17 23 87



  • GAME RECAP
  • GAME HIGHLIGHTS
  • QUOTES
  • GAME PREVIEW
  • COACH PREVIEW
  • INJURY REPORT
  • GAME NOTES

Lakers' inside duo overpower Thunder 87-79

By Bryan Chu, for NBA.com

On a play away from the ball in the first quarter, Andrew Bynum may have very well set the tone not only for himself, but for the rest of the series.

After getting tripped up on a previous defensive play by Oklahoma City's Jeff Green, Bynum bounced up and barreled into Green's chest. No whistle. No harm. But it was a play Bynum felt he needed to make.

"I wasn't going to just let that happen without retaliating," said Bynum following the Lakers wire-to-wire, 87-79 victory against the Thunder in Game 1 of the first-round Western Conference playoffs.

"That's just part of being aggressive and letting people know and having a presence out there."

With the victory, the defending champions take a 1-0 lead in the opening round with Game 2 at home on Tuesday. Historically speaking, Lakers coach Phil Jackson's track record bodes poorly for the Thunder, who have now lost eight straight at Staples Center.

After winning Game 1 in any length of series, Jackson is 47-0 (Chicago 24-0; Lakers 23-0).

Couple that with the presence of Bynum, who came back from a 13-game absence with a strained left Achilles' tendon and finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in 30 minutes, and the team's defensive intensity, the Lakers seemed to have flipped the switch back on.

Bynum wasn't the only Laker to set the tone for the best-of-seven series.

Ron Artest locked down Kevin Durant, who finished with a game-high 24 points but was 7-for-24 shooting. It was a disappointing playoff debut.

"It was a tough one for us tonight," Durant said. "I had some good looks. Some great looks. I wasn't able to make them. That's discouraging."

Durant had only three field goals in the second half. What won't be on his highlight reel: a blown layup; a soft jumper swatted away by Kobe Bryant; a 3-pointer that didn't draw iron.

On how the team guarded Durant, Jackson was remise not to take a shot after talking earlier in the week about the NBA's leading scorer's knack of drawing fouls.

"We tried to keep our arms out of there so he couldn't get those reach-in fouls that send him to the line," Jackson said. "He still got there 11 times, which is incredible."

If anything, this game encapsulated what the Lakers were hoping for in acquiring Artest. Though he had a forgettable game offensively (3-for-11 shooting, 1-for-8 from deep), Artest bodied up Durant in what was a throwback game for him.

"When I was in my prime, I wasn't in the playoffs that deep," Artest said. "That's part of the reason why I lost weight so I can show people how I was when they didn't get to see me and how I played defense. No not at all (playing like I was in my prime). I think I have a chance to get better."

So do the Thunder.

Despite trailing for the entire game and at one point down by as many as 17, Oklahoma City managed to keep the game within eight points thanks to second-year point guard Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook was the blue blur.

During a span of eight minutes between the end of the second and beginning of the third quarter, Westbrook scored 15 of the Thunder's 16 points. He ended the game with 23 points on 10-for-16 shooting and eight assists The Lakers had no answer for the speedy guard as the Thunder outscored the Lakers in the paint 42-34.

"Russell with his speed is really how they hurt us," Derek Fisher said. "In transition when we had turned the ball over...that's when we really got hurt. We'll have to do a better job Tuesday night."

Up eight into the fourth quarter, the Lakers continued to trade baskets with the Thunder. The final minutes were anticlimactic as both sides committed their share of fouls and free throw attempts.

The closest the Thunder got to within in the second half was 77-71, but then a late Fisher 3-pointer closed the game out.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks was proud of his team in their first playoff game.

"I thought our effort was really good this afternoon," he said. "Nervous, I didn't see that. I saw a team that played with a lot of effort (and) didn't hit shots."

After missing four of his last five games taking time off to rest his knee and fractured finger, Bryant struggled from the field. He scored a team-high 21 points, but on 6-for-19 shooting. He was also uncharacteristically poor from the line (7-for-12) too. In the month of April, Bryant is 27-for-79 from the field.

"I'm sure Kobe's not happy with his game," Jackson said. "I think it's a rhythm problem more than anything else. It's just a lack of playing in the last month."

The first half was all Lakers.

Behind Bynum, Pau Gasol, who had 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Fisher's hot hand, Los Angeles took a 27-13 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

Active hands helped caused nine Thunder turnovers and a season-low of 13 points in the first quarter. Oklahoma City also tied a season low in the first half (39 points).

Bynum served up a facial on Nenad Krstic, slamming a one-hander on Krstic's dome in the second quarter.

"That kind of got me going a little bit, that play just because I was able to get that dunk," Bynum said.

Fisher on Bynum's play: "He looked comfortable. He looked strong. He looked explosive. He was decisive with his movements and he didn't look afraid to load up the Achilles and push himself...he's going to be a guy teams are going to have difficulty holding him down."


Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
GAME PHOTOS



MORE FROM BASKETBLOG
NUMBERS
2 Double-doubles for the Lakers, as both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum posted point-rebound DD’s. The Spaniard was good for 19 and 13, while Bynum went for 13 and 12.

9 Blocks for the Lakers, six more than the league’s best shot-blocking team in the regular season, OKC. Bynum swatted four shots himself in 30 minutes, while Gasol blocked three and Kobe Bryant two.

12 OKC’s edge in fastbreak points (14-2), which wasn’t enough to overcome L.A.’s advantage on the glass (41-36) and from the 3-point line (eight makes to two).

30.4 Kevin Durant’s shooting percentage, as he was limited to 24 points 7-of-23 shooting thanks in part to Ron Artest’s solid defense throughout the afternoon. KD grabbed six boards with two assists and four turnovers in 42 minutes.

31.6 Bryant’s not-much-better percentage on 6-of-19, though he did add three assists, two steals, two blocks and two rebounds with two turnovers in 41 minutes.

Mike Trudell, Lakers.com



Lakers-Thunder Highlights



Lakers-Thunder Quotes


Lakers’ Coach Phil Jackson on Kobe Bryant:
“I thought he made plays. I like the fact that he made plays out there. He made some passes for the other guys and that’s the important part.”

On stopping Russell Westbrook:
“I thought we did a really good job in the fourth quarter. Our team did a really good job of stopping the penetration in the fourth quarter. Third quarter, second quarter, I thought he did some things to push the ball down our throat. We’re going to have to watch that we take charges and not just stand there and get escorted to the basket, as they say.”

On the adjustments to be made to the play of the bench:
“I really can’t speak to that issue of what’s going to happen. This is what happened in this game. I think that we know that we have to get easier baskets. We know that we need to get easier scores out there. And that’s an important aspect of our game is to work, to run, to get some easy baskets.”

On Kobe Bryant’s shooting:
“I think that he’s worked on his shooting. I think that some of his shooting looked okay at times today. I’m trying to convince him to take open shots. He had open looks that were pretty good. I thought that he tried to advance the ball a little bit too far at times on sequences and got himself in there.”

On Kevin Durant:
“The team is much more alert as to where he is on the floor. I thought they helped out. His shooting was off today and I think he will shoot much better in the next game.”








Lakers' Guard Kobe Bryant on today’s game:
“We did a good job. We played with each other very well. We were quick on our rotations and we anticipated very well. I had a few lapses during transitions in terms of our defensive rotations, getting back and protecting the basket. We did a good job all around.”

On how both teams performed in today’s game:
“We did pretty good. [The Thunder] are extremely well coached. They’re a good team to play.”

On the Lakers’ defense:
“We did a good job. We tried to limit as many opportunities as much as possible, it’s just tough to do. We did a good job on them tonight. We have a long way to go.”

On the Lakers’ team chemistry now that Andrew Bynum is back:
“We understand how to play with each other. We’ve been here for a while, guys have been here for a long time. So it’s a pretty smooth transition for us.”








Lakers’ Center Andrew Bynum on how he felt his first game back since the recent injury:
“Conditioning for me, especially in the first quarter, was tough just coming back. But I think it’s going to get better. Obviously just playing more minutes, keep it up. The coaches challenge me to play defense and then try to alter as many shots as possible and get every rebound; that’s really my focus.”

On the team currently:
“We have great scorers in Kobe and Pau, who can take care of that. So as long as I can stop the other team, from getting so many layups and get on boards and alley-oops, I think we’ll be OK.”

On the emotion he showed after a dunk in the first half:
“Yea, it kind of got me going there a little bit out there. And that basket hyped the team up; everybody was jumping on the bench. And, you know, that’s the type of player I can be, exciting, creating all the energy for our team, whether it’s coming over blocking shots or getting easy dunks, trying to get some easy baskets for us.”







Lakers’ Lamar Odom on whether there is an adjustment to coming off the bench again:

“Not really. Just play the game. Pick my spots. When an opportunity is there, try to take it, make the play.”

On the team’s big men coming together:
“I thought we were pretty good. I’m used to playing with Drew now. Pau did a great job.”









Lakers' Pau Gasol on the Lakers effort tonight:

“I think we turned it up. We turned it up quite a bit. That is the intensity it will require to win games in the NBA, especially at this time of the year.”

On Oklahoma City’s better play after the first quarter:
“They made some plays and we couldn’t make ours. The intensity was there. They’re a good team. Westbrook got going. We let him get in the lane too many times.

On what Andrew Bynum brings to the table:
“Energy, size, intimidation, a lot of good rebounding, good post presence – several things. He’s fresh. He’s ready to roll.”









Lakers’ Ron Artest on his focus tonigh:

“I was more focused on the effort, more focused on the total game. I was more focused on what the team did.

On whether he was satisfied with holding Kevin Durant to 24 points:
“No, I’m not satisfied. I’m never satisfied. I’ve been guarding the best player for my whole career. I’m more satisfied with the team more than myself.”









Thunders’ Coach Scott Brooks on this afternoon’s game:
“I thought our effort was really good this afternoon. Offensively we just didn’t have a lot to give. The Lakers were playing as a good defensive team. Our offense was not really scoring because we were holding the ball and standing around too much. There were times in the game when we did a good job of moving it and setting good screens, and coming off of them. But we didn’t do it enough.”

On both teams:
“To the Lakers’ credit, they’re a very long, athletic team, and they protect the basket very well. I thought both teams really played hard out there on the floor. Defensively, as well as we could possibly play and that’s how we’ve won games all year long so I’m proud of the guys who came out with a great effort defensively.”

On staying in the game despite the closeness in score:
“Well that was the message at halftime. It’s one thing if we were playing great basketball and we did everything with our “A” game, then I would be nervous, I’d be worried. But we didn’t play well. The Lakers are a good team. They’re so long. But I’m encouraged that we came out and competed. You never know what to expect. It’s a lot of our first times playing in the playoffs. Nervous, I didn’t see that. I saw a team that played a lot of effort. Didn’t hit shots. We had other games where we didn’t hit shots and it had nothing to do with nerves.”







Thunder’s Forward Kevin Durant on today’s game offensively:

“It was a tough one for us tonight. On the offensive end we couldn’t get going. We had free shots, you know, it’s all about making them and finishing them. You have to give credit to the Lakers.”

On the Thunder’s defensive play:
“On the defensive end we played hard. We played hard every possession. But it was a tough game and we’ve got another one.”

On if his first playoff game felt any different than others:
“Nothing really to be honest. A lot of people say it would be different, but it felt the same… as the regular season and it was just fun, exciting to be out there. I wish we came out on the other side of the ‘W’ but it’s a long series.”

On if tonight was a missed opportunity because the Lakers have ailing injuries currently:
“You could say that. But I think that, like I said, if you play hard… they’re a great team. They’ve got a lot of guys that fill in for the people that are hurt. Anytime that [we started coming] back, they made good plays. So we just have to go back to the drawing board tomorrow.”

On if tonight was discouraging of encouraging:
“It was discouraging, especially for myself. I got some great looks and I wasn’t able to make them. That’s discouraging but it’s all about working hard. So tonight we’ve got to go back and continue to keep working and improving.”







Oklahoma City Thunder’s Guard Russell Westbrook on playing the Lakers tonight:

“They are a tough team, especially with Bynum back; it makes them really big in the paint. They are tough to keep off the ball.”

On the Thunders’ slow start and things to improve on for game two:
“I just tried to let the game come to me and get everybody involved and get everybody going and just get into the flow. We need to just rebound and take care of the basketball. We need to get a good shot every possession.”

On playing in his first playoff game against the defending champions:
“I tried to just go out and do nothing different. Just go out and play the same game I have been playing all season long. You can put too much pressure on yourself and I do not want to do that. It is just all about competing and doing what you can.”









Oklahoma City Thunder’s Guard Thabo Sefolosha on tonight’s game:

“That was a pretty physical game. With Bynum and Gasol it makes it tough to get to the basket, but at the same time we had trouble shooting from the outside on offense, so it was just a tough night to make baskets.”

On playing Kobe Bryant:
“Kobe is Kobe. But I think I did a pretty good job on him tonight. He finished with 21 points, but I think we did a good job defensively. We held him where we wanted him to be and made them [Lakers] toughen up.”









Oklahoma City Thunder’s Forward Jeff Green on playing the Lakers tonight:

“The Lakers did a great job on defense. But we just worked with what they gave us. We have guys who can shoot threes so we just have to be confident when we do it.”

On playing the Lakers’ bigs:
“They bring extra height when you have more bigs. But that is a challenge for us and we just have to have our guys hit the board and make their shots.”

On his shooting tonight:
“I am going to take what they [Lakers] give me. They let me shoot threes and I am confident enough to knock those types of shots down. Russell did a great job tonight and Kevin did too [at shooting] and whatever the Lakers give us we are going to take it.”










Oklahoma City Thunder’s Center-Forward Nick Collison on the Lakers defending Kevin Durant:

“They did a good job and they are a defensive team. Artest does a good job and he has big guys behind him so we are going to have to give Kevin more space.”

On playing with Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom:
“When they spread out across the base line they can cover a lot of space and length. We are going to have to do a better job at covering them. We can’t stand there and wait for plays to come to them. We will need to give our scorers more space.”

Lakers-Thunder Preview

By Beth Harris, AP Sports Writer


LOS ANGELES — Two days of long practices and bonding over a steak dinner have the Los Angeles Lakers ready to defend their NBA championship.

They'll begin Sunday against All-Star Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, whose youth and speed the Lakers will counter with Kobe Bryant and experience.

After stumbling through the end of the regular season, the Lakers are feeling good again with Bryant's improved health and the return of Andrew Bynum.

They went out Friday night for a steak dinner, limiting the basketball talk to the goal of earning a third consecutive trip to the NBA finals.

The Lakers earned the top seed in the Western Conference with 57 wins. The Thunder claimed the eighth spot to earn their first postseason berth since moving from Seattle two years ago.

The Lakers won two of the teams' three regular-season matchups, but by just three points.


Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited








Lakers-Thunder Injury Report


Ron Artest (sprained left thumb) will play.
Shannon Brown (sprained right thumb) will play.
Kobe Bryant (avulsion fracture, right index finger) will play.
Andrew Bynum (left Achilles strain) is probable.
Jordan Farmar (strained left hamstring) is probable.
Sasha Vujacic (severe sprain, left ankle) is out.
Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) is probable.

Nenad Krstic (right knee contusion) is day-today

Lakers-Thunder Game Notes

SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers won the season series with Oklahoma City 3-1 after sweeping last season’s series with the Thunder (3-0) for the second straight year, having gone 4-0 against the Thunder in 2007-08. This was the 5th consecutive season series victory for the Lakers over the Thunder. The two teams have met 218 times but just seven times since the Thunder relocated to Oklahoma City prior to the 2008- 09 season. Los Angeles leads the all-time series 134-84. In their most recent meeting, however, the Lakers lost to the Thunder 75-91 at the Ford Center, snapping their 12-game win streak over the Thunder and marking their first loss to Oklahoma City since the team’s relocation from Seattle. The Lakers are 13-2 in their last 15 games against Oklahoma City and have won 12 of their last 13 against the Thunder overall. On the road against the Thunder, the Lakers have gone 8-2 in their last 10 overall. The Lakers have now played six times during the regular season at Ford Center in Oklahoma City, going 0-2 against the New Orleans Hornets while the team was temporarily relocated from 2005-07 but 3-1 against the Thunder. At home, the Lakers have gone 8-2 in their last 10 games against the Thunder and are 14-8 all-time against Oklahoma City at STAPLES Center. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 26-12 against the Thunder. In 2006-07, Kobe Bryant established a Lakers series record with 46 points 4/6/07 at KeyArena only to surpass it nine days later with 50 points 4/15/07 at home against the then Sonics. In those games, he surpassed the old mark of 45 points established by himself in January of 2003 and Jerry West in December of 1970. In 50 career games including 43 starts, Bryant is averaging 25.1 points against the Thunder.

LAKERS vs. OKLAHOMA CITY IN THE POSTSEASON
The Lakers and Thunder have met seven times in the postseason (1978, 1979, 1980, 1987, 1989, 1995 and 1998) with Los Angeles advancing on five occasions (1980, 1987, 1989, 1995, 1998). The Lakers have won their last five straight playoff series versus the Thunder. The Lakers are 1-1 in the First Round against Oklahoma City, defeating the Thunder in 1995 (3-1) but losing in 1978 (1-2). Los Angeles has gone 2-1 against the Thunder in the Conference Semifinals, winning in 1998 (4-1) and 1989 (4-0) but dropping the 1979 series (1-4). In Conference Finals matchups, the Lakers are 2-0, defeating the Thunder in both 1987 (4-0) and 1980 (4-1). Overall, the Lakers are 21-9 all-time against the Thunder in the postseason, going 12-2 at home and 9-7 on the road.

OPENING ROUND HISTORY (Los Angeles era only)
The Lakers have opened the Playoffs in the FIRST Round 38 times and in the SECOND round on seven occasions (1962, 63, 65, 66, 80, 82, 83) since moving to Los Angeles prior to the 1960-61 season. The Lakers have won 35-of-45 opening playoff series over that span and are 132-67 (.663) in opening round games. In Game 1’s of their first postseason series, the Lakers are 33-12. When the Lakers have had home-court advantage in the opening round, they have posted a 32-2 series record. When winning Game 1 in the opening round, the Lakers have a series record of 32-1. Their lone loss came to the Phoenix Suns (2-3) in 1993. When falling behind 0-1 in the opening round, the Lakers are 3-9.

HOW CHAMPIONS HAVE FARED THE NEXT SEASON

Since the NBA’s inaugural season in 1946-47, 20 of 63 winners of the NBA Finals have followed their championship seasons by winning the NBA Finals. Among the other 43 teams, nine lost in the NBA Finals, 17 lost in the Conference Finals, 10 lost in the Conference Semifinals, five lost in the First Round and two failed to make the playoffs.

THREE OR MORE CONSECUTIVE VISITS TO THE FINALS

Since the NBA’s inaugural season in 1946-47, 11 teams have advanced to the NBA Finals three or more consecutive seasons with the Lakers doing so on five separate occasions (1952-54; 1968-79; 1982-85; 1987-89; 2000-02). Among the other teams to advance to three or more consecutive Finals, only the Celtics did so more than three straight seasons (New York: 1951-53; Boston: 1958-66; Boston: 1984-87; Detroit: 1988-90; Chicago:1990-92; Chicago: 1996-98).

THE CONFERENCE ONE SEED
Since the NBA went to the Conference format prior to the 1970-71 season, the Lakers have now held the #1 seed 16 times (1972, 1977, 1980, 1982-90, 2000, 2008, 2009, 2010), winning the West 12 times and the NBA Championship on eight occasions. This is the 11th time the Lakers have owned the #1 seed since the current format featuring 16 teams was instituted prior to the 1984 NBA Playoffs. The Lakers are 32-4 in games against #8 seeds under the current 16-team format (all best-of-five game series). Overall, as the Conference #1 seed, the Lakers are now 175-83 (.678) all-time in the playoffs.

JACKSON-LED TEAMS A TOUGH OUT AFTER WINNING GAME 1

When Phil Jackson wins Game 1 of any series, best-of-five or best-of-seven, his teams are 44-0, having gone 24-0 with Chicago and 22-0 with the Lakers.

STAPLES CENTER ADVANTAGE
Since moving to STAPLES Center prior to the 1999-2000 season, the Lakers have won 83% of their postseason games (63-13). The Lakers have topped the century mark in over half of their postseason home games at STAPLES Center (44-of-76) while the opposition has been held under 100 points in all but 21 of those games. In their last 39 home playoff games, the Lakers are 33-6.

BRYANT 6th ON NBA’s ALL-TIME PLAYOFF POINTS LIST; 2nd ON LAKERS ALL-TIME LIST
Last postseason, with 32 points 5/21 vs. Denver, Kobe Bryant moved past Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (4,070) for 2nd on the Lakers all-time playoff scoring list. Overall, in the 2009 Playoffs, Bryant moved past Larry Bird (3,897) for 6th, past John Havlicek (3,776) for 7th, past Hakeem Olajuwon (3,755) for 8th and past Earvin “Magic” Johnson (3,701) for 9th the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list and 3rd on the Lakers franchise playoff scoring list. In moving past Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar, only Jerry West (4,457) has scored more points in a Lakers uniform during the playoffs than Bryant (4,381). Next up on the all-time NBA list is Jerry West (5th/4,457). Among all players with 2,500+ postseason points, only Michael Jordan (33.4), Jerry West (29.1), Elgin Baylor (27.0), Hakeem Olajuwon (25.9) and Shaquille O’Neal (25.2) have a higher postseason scoring average than Bryant (25.0).