- GAME HIGHLIGHTS
- GAME RECAP
- COACH PREVIEW
- GAME PREVIEW
- INJURY REPORT
- GAME NOTES
Lakers rout Thunder, take 3-2 series lead
By GREG BEACHAM
LOS ANGELES(AP) Pau Gasol had 25 points and 11 rebounds, Andrew Bynum added 21 points and the Los Angeles Lakers vigorously rebounded from back-to-back losses with a 111-87 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, taking a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Kobe Bryant had 13 points and seven assists in three quarters of work as the defending NBA champions coolly shook off the eighth-seeded Thunder's series-tying blowout win in Game 4 with a comprehensive thrashing of the postseason newcomers.
With their offense purring and their defense throttling Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Lakers led by 21 points at halftime and went ahead by 32 late in the third quarter of their third home victory in the series.
Game 6 is Friday night in Oklahoma City.
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
7 Fastbreak points for the Thunder, who’d killed L.A. in transition in Games 3 and 4 in Oklahoma City. The Lakers managed 12 FB points themselves to take the category.
14 Three-pointers attempted by the Lakers, of which five went down. Ron Artest nailed two of them, both from the corner, while Jordan Farmar was 2-for-2 off the bench. Nonetheless, that L.A. took only 14 was a good sign, since it meant interior attempts were coming in droves (48 FGA’s in the paint).
27 Assists for the Lakers, who moved the ball well throughout the evening. Kobe Bryant led the way with seven dimes in three quarters, while Pau Gasol and Ron Artest added five each, Lamar Odom four off the bench.
56 Points in the paint for the Lakers, led by the impressive interior performance from Gasol (25 points) and Andrew Bynum (21 points).
69.2 Combined shooting percentage for Bynum (8-of-10) and Gasol (10-of-16).
Mike Trudell, Lakers.com
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson on winning tonight:
“It is a big deal for us to win tonight and get a couple more days off. I know they will make some adjustments as well and we will have to go back there and play a real stellar game.”
On Kobe’s shooting tonight:
“I thought he had a number of moments tonight where he could have taken shots and he chose to penetrate or pass to his teammates. I will encourage him to shoot those shots next game.”
On starting off strong in Oklahoma City:
“I do not really want them doing that. I am not sure they will have the energy themselves to do that. There will obviously be tremendous crowd energy there for the young team and they will feed off that energy of course as a young team will do. We have faced this for so many years we understand we will have to save some energy for their surges and we will play through. I think we will have to rotate together and carry the ball in shots.”
On Pau Gasol’s performance tonight:
“We had a certain sense. There was attention out there tonight, a directed moral focus. I was very pleased with the way Pau played tonight I thought he moved the ball and attacked in certain situations that were very important for our team. For easy layups he did the right thing and took the direct line many times and he controlled their defense so he was able to get Andrew [Bynum] some easy baskets, he played well off that secondary role.”
Lakers’ Guard Kobe Bryant on his offensive game tonight:
“I was just aggressive. Skidding the paint, making them make decisions. When I do that, I collapse the defense so they just have to make a choice.”
On guarding Russell Westbrook:
“I enjoy a challenge. I felt that he’s been playing sensational. If we’re going to be eliminated, then I want to go into the summer thinking that I could have done something about it. So I accept the challenge.”
On getting the assignment of guarding Russell Westbrook:
“It’s about time, we had to make some adjustments. Ron has been working extremely hard on Durant. Russell has just done such a great job of getting into the paint. I think I’m a pretty good defensive player myself. So I took the assignment.”
On Game 6:
“We just got to get rest, get ready and see if we can have a better showing in Oklahoma then we did the last time.”
Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on what the Lakers did well on offense tonight:
“We moved the basketball a lot better today. Everybody was passing, cutting and we were just getting good offensive opportunities every time.”
On how the Lakers were, mentally, coming into this game:
“I think we were definitely more prepared for the game. Everybody, before the game, kind of [kept] to themselves, to really think about what they had to do and that helped.”
On how the Lakers controlled the fast break points of the Thunder:
“Well I think that the guards got up more today, pressured Westbrook in the backcourt so he didn’t get the ball with that energy coming up the court. That really helped slow him down and we just made a conscious effort to get back because we got challenged, especially me, I got challenged, to run back on defense.”
Lakers’ Lamar Odom on if the home crowd helped the Lakers win tonight:
“Home court always gives you an advantage, gives us a lot of energy. It’s good to come back home. We did all the little things that we needed to do to win a game; got the ball inside. I think on the first five baskets, we had four assists. ‘Drew and Pau played great.”
On how they played so well defensively:
“Second and third effort. We didn’t give up too many offensive rebounds, especially in that first half.”
Lakers’ Jordan Farmar on what the Lakers’ game plan was tonight:
“Definitely to get points in the paint, really attack and make them play defense. But it’s important for us, if our good shooters are open to take shots and knock them down. It really spreads the defense, helps Andrew and Pau get some more space to work with. It’s just about playing the right way and being smart about it.”
On why the Lakers can’t play like this every night:
“We ask the same question. It’s tough; they do a great job at home. They come out really firing and their crowd gives them a different kind of life. We have to try to come out the way we did tonight there and take the crowd out of the game.”
Lakers’ Forward Pau Gasol on getting the ball inside the paint:
“That’s the key for us to be able to move the ball, attack, and penetrate. With passing, with dribbling, and finishing out the plays. I think we did a good job on that by being aggressive and assertive.”
On Kobe Bryant in tonight’s game:
“His defensive effort was excellent. Absolutely. He was a big factor in stopping [Russell] Westbrook and containing him to make sure he doesn’t get in the lane as he has. So Kobe did an excellent job tonight as far as defending and also setting up. He had seven assists I think. That’s also really important. He took his shots, he was aggressive. Overall just a great effort.”
On the importance of establishing his presence, along with Andrew Bynum’s in the paint tonight:
“We had 18 out of 26, both of us combined. So yea, we shot the ball well and we were aggressive. I think we made ourselves a big presence in the lane. We were effective. We’ll try to continue to do that in game 6. It will be a little more difficult in Oklahoma, but I think we need to be as aggressive as we were tonight as a whole.”
Thunder Coach Scott Brooks on tonight’s game:
“We got our butts kicked. There’s no way around it. They out-played us from the opening tip to the end up the game.”
On Kobe Bryant:
“Kobe had an impact on the game. The stat sheet does not show that. The guy was competing and set the tone defensively. He did a good job of guarding Russell to start the game. That kind of threw us off a little bit. Kobe’s a great player. He found his way.”
On the difference in tonight’s game:
“They controlled the game… That’s not the way we wanted to play. We got to go back home, take care of our home-court and make it seven games.”
On the emotional state of his team after this loss:
“All the guys in our locker, got our butts kicked. We’ve been beat up before. The only thing you can do is come back and respond. We don’t get too high, we don’t get too damp. The one thing that we always do is that we always respond.”
Thunder’s Forward Kevin Durant on tonight’s game:
“Kobe did a good job on Russell. It was tough for us to get looks as our point guard was being guarded. As a whole team, they did a great job of closing the paint up on us and making us take shots. It was a tough game for us.”
On the Lakers’ source of energy tonight:
“First off, the crowd was a lot better than it was in the first two games here. I guess that brought the energy, just like our crowd brings us energy in Oklahoma City. They also fed off [Andrew] Bynum. He had some easy points here and there and that got the whole team excited. It was tough to fight back.”
On the Thunders’ post-game locker room thoughts:
“It’s not the end of the world. There’s game 6 coming up and it’s an opportunity for us to try and tie the series up. We went back to our place down 2-0 and we did a good job of winning two games in a row. We’ll see how we bounce back and everybody has been positive since day 1 and we‘ve got to continue to be that way.”
Thunder Guard Russell Westbrook on being guarded by Kobe Bryant:
“It was a different look. Just got to be confident in what I’m doing.”
On what adjustments he plans to make for Game 6:
“Just watch film and see what I could have did to help my team out. See what I could have did to get in that lane more and get my teammates the ball.”
On what went wrong at the beginning of tonight’s game:
“Just got to start off on the right foot. They came out and jumped on us and got into us early.”
Thunder Forward Jeff Green on what the Thunder need to do differently in Game 6:
“We can’t come out lackadaisical like we did. We can’t allow them to get such a good lead on us in the first quarter. We can’t dig our self a hole like that.”
On what the Lakers did well tonight:
“They stepped it up another notch. That’s a championship team. They came ready to play. They put us back on our heels and we didn’t respond.”
Thunder Guard James Harden on how this performance was uncharacteristic for his team:
“It’s not like us, especially on the defensive end. If we’re not making shots, we can’t let them take over our defense. We have to bounce back and be ready.”
On his team’s ability to bounce back from a game like this:
“We always bounce back from losses, tough losses or even blowout losses. We have to recuperate, watch some tape and just get better.”
By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP)—Although the Los Angeles Lakers still aren’t certain what ailed Kobe Bryant during two dismal games in Oklahoma City, they’re certainly hoping two days of pure rest can cure it.
Wearing street clothes and a confident smile, Bryant watched intently while the Lakers finished up practice Monday in the midst of a first-round playoff series that’s been a whole lot less relaxing than the defending champions had hoped.
It’s the rest Bryant took in Game 4 in Oklahoma City—where he didn’t take a shot until the second quarter and scored just 12 points—that has left Los Angeles worrying about an extra-long summer.
Is Kobe hurt more than he’s letting on? Was his passiveness meant to send a message to his teammates, as he’s apparently done in the past? Or was he simply not feeling it against the eighth-seeded Thunder’s aggressive defense and youthful enthusiasm?
“I feel good right now,” Bryant said Monday. “I’ve battled some injuries, but I feel good today.”
Bryant wasn’t in the mood for many complete sentences, saying he feels “100 percent” even though “some nights it’s been tough.”
When asked if he’s at the top of his game, Bryant said: “I will be.”
Nobody will know for sure until Game 5 on Tuesday night, when the Lakers will have the backing of a home crowd that has paled in comparison to the volume and intensity of Oklahoma City’s eager fans, according to both teams.
To prevent Kevin Durant from starting his NBA playoff career with a historic first-round upset, Bryant and his fans might need to shake off their Hollywood cool.
“We don’t get angry,” Bryant said. “There are certain things that we have to do to execute to win. Angry doesn’t get it done. Emotion doesn’t get it done. You’ve got to execute.”
The Lakers were thoroughly trounced 110-89 in Game 4, and their superstar’s curious performance seemed to be about more than just his injured ankle, knee, hamstring and finger. A Lakers spokesman confirmed Monday that Bryant’s broken index finger on his shooting hand has healed, but he’s now bothered by unrelated arthritis in the same digit.
Bryant didn’t take a shot until 9:06 remained in the second quarter, and he was a shadow of his usual assertive self. He finished with 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting, sitting out the fourth quarter to get a head start on the series’ first two-day break.
Bryant shot just two free throws after getting none in Game 3, clearly indicating he wasn’t driving to the basket with regularity. Bryant scored 24 points in Game 3, but also went 2 for 10 in the fourth quarter of a five-point loss.
Although ample playoff history suggests only Kobe can stop Kobe, he credited his unimpressive numbers to the Thunder’s defense and a team-wide attempt to get the ball inside.
“(Oklahoma City) is a young team that plays hard, that’s playing with house money, so they go in there and let it all hang out,” Bryant said. “It’s a series, it’s a challenge. It’s how playoff basketball should be.”
Yet Bryant was his usual take-charge self during much of the series’ first two games in Los Angeles. He scored 39 points in Game 2, earning 15 free throws and generally disrupting the Thunder’s potent transition game by taking much of the Lakers’ offensive responsibility on his shoulders, freeing up his teammates to worry about defense and rebounding.
“We put so much focus on him,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “We’re just trying to make him make some tough shots, and he’s able to make those tough shots from time to time, but it’s hard every game, every possession if you have to make the tough shots. We’ve done a good job on him. That doesn’t mean anything in Game 5. He’s one of the best players.”
When he wants to be.
On rare occasions during his years in Los Angeles, Bryant has been done similar disappearing acts, leaving the Lakers’ offense without its central component. Bryant attributed each instance to a specific cause, whether it’s illness, injury or wanting to get his teammates more involved.
One of the most memorable no-shows occurred late in the 2004 regular season, when Bryant took just one shot in the first half of a critical game in Sacramento. He straightfacedly attributed his passivity to the stellar defense of the Kings, a decidedly average defensive club—and many interpreted his effort as a way of reasserting his dominance on that fractured team, which lost to Detroit in the NBA finals before Shaquille O’Neal’s departure for Miami.
Coach Phil Jackson accepted Bryant’s version of events in Oklahoma City, while veteran point guard Derek Fisher said he was “somewhat” certain Bryant was trying to jump-start Los Angeles’ offense by feeding 7-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
The Lakers were much more worried about their transition game than Bryant’s offense Monday, repeatedly stating their determination to get back on defense to slow the fleet-footed Thunder’s breakout chances. Gasol and Bynum both acknowledged being worried about Oklahoma City’s growing confidence.
“We can’t afford to lose this game,” Gasol said. “We want to establish ourselves and send a message to them that they might be playing well and won two games at home, but that’s all they’re going to get. … They’re coming in with the momentum, an eighth seed with nothing to lose, but we need to make a statement in Game 5 that there’s no chance, there’s no light.”
NOTES: The Lakers are 17-0 at home in the fifth game of a playoff series tied 2-2. … Lakers F Josh Powell also didn’t practice while his wife gave birth. … G Sasha Vujacic is off crutches, but still isn’t ready to return from his ankle injury. Vujacic isn’t certain whether he could be ready by the second round. … C DJ Mbenga had a second laser surgery on his eye to repair two retinal holes. Mbenga, who won’t play in Game 5, got elbowed in the head during practice. … The Thunder practiced at home Monday before flying to California.
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.
DJ Mbenga (retinal surgery, left eye) is out.
Sasha Vujacic (severe sprain, left ankle) is out.
Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) is questionable.
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 23-11 all-time against the Thunder in the postseason, going 14-2 at home and 9-9 on the road.
BRYANT MOVES PAST JERRY WEST FOR 1st ON LAKERS ALL-TIME PLAYOFF SCORING LIST; 5th ON NBA’S ALL-TIME LIST
With a fade away jumper at the 8:58 mark of the third quarter April 22 at Oklahoma City, Kobe Bryant moved past Jerry West (4,457) for 1st on the Lakers all-time playoff scoring list and 5th on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list. Last postseason, with 32 points 5/21 vs. Denver, Bryant (4,477) 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. Next up on the all-time NBA list is Karl Malone (4th/4,761). 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 Dirk Nowitzki (25.7) have a higher postseason scoring average than Bryant (25.0).
JACKSON-LED TEAMS A TOUGH OUT AFTER WINNING GAME 1
When Phil Jackson wins Game 1 of any playoff series, best-of-five or best-of-seven, his teams are 44-0, having gone 24-0 with Chicago and 20-0 with the Lakers.
JACKSON-LED TEAMS A TOUGH OUT WHEN LEADING A PLAYOFF SERIES
When holding a series lead of any kind, Phil Jackson, currently in his 19th postseason as a head coach, is 51-1 all-time. Overall, Jackson owns a 211-93 postseason record, with his 211 victories being the most of any NBA coach in playoff history. Additionally, Jackson’s 304 career playoff games are also the most of any coach in playoff history, while his .694 postseason win percentage is tops among all coaches as well. Currently at 100 playoff victories with the Lakers, Jackson is two wins shy of Pat Riley (102) for most playoff victories in Lakers franchise history. With the Lakers 2009 NBA Championship, Jackson (10 as head coach, 2 as player) surpassed legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach for most championships won by a head coach while also passing fellow Hall-of-Famer Bill Russell (11) for most championships won by a player/coach. Should the Lakers reach the NBA Finals this season, it will be the 13th time he has taken a team to the final round, tying him with NHL coaching legend Scotty Bowman for most trips to the finals in a major pro sport played in the U.S.
THIRTY-ONE TOO MANY
In their 96-101 loss at Oklahoma City April 22, the Lakers attempted a playoff franchise-high tying 31 three-point attempts (10-of-31 (.323)) for the third time in franchise history, falling to 0-3 in those games. The Lakers shot 9-of-31 (.290) on three-pointers on 5/25/09 in a 101-120 loss at Denver in Game 4 of the 2009 Western Conference Finals. Los Angeles also attempted 31 three-point attempts (10-of-31 (.323)) on 5/24/02, in a 90-103 loss to the Sacramento Kings in Game 3 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals.
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 now 134-69 (.660) in opening round games. In Game 1’s of their first postseason series, the Lakers are now 34-12. 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. With their victory over the Thunder in Game 1 of the First Round on April 18, Phil Jackson-led teams (Bulls and Lakers) improved to 15-0 when opening their postseason at home.
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).