- GAME RECAP
- GAME HIGHLIGHTS
- COACH PREVIEW
- GAME PREVIEW
- SCOUTING REPORT
- INJURY REPORT
- GAME NOTES
Kobe takes over late to give Lakers 2-0 series advantage
By Bryan Chu, for NBA.com
The scowl and swagger are back.
With the Lakers trailing in final two minutes, Kobe Bryant did what he did best -- take over the game.
Bryant scored seven of the team's final nine points as the Lakers narrowly took Game 2 over the Thunder 95-92 Tuesday at Staples Center to grab a decisive 2-0 series advantage.
After struggling for the past month with a battery of injuries, Bryant answered back to those who doubted his game, scoring 15 of his game-high 39 in the final period.
"After 13 years," smirked Bryant, "you think they'd know better."
The Lakers have won eight straight over the Thunder at Staples Center. More importantly, however, is holding court. When the Lakers take Game 1 and 2 of a best-of-seven series they are nearly unbeatable, posting a 39-1 record.
Oklahoma City could have easily left Los Angeles with a split, however.
The Thunder held an 88-86 advantage with 2:49 left in the game, but then Bryant put the defending champs ahead 93-88 with 1:18 left in the game.
But a pair of free throws by Russell Westbrook and flip shot by Jeff Green cut Los Angeles' lead to 94-92 with 15.1 seconds remaining in the game. Kevin Durant fired an off-balanced 3-pointer on the next possession, but his shot went wide right. Pau Gasol split a pair and the Thunder had one final shot with 7.7 seconds left, but Green's 3-pointer was long.
"I'm getting the looks I want, they're just not falling," said Green, who finished just 2-for-11 shooting and 1-for-6 from 3-point range after going 4-for-12 the previous game. "But I'm still confident in my shot and I'm going to continue to shoot them and they're going to drop when I go home."
During Bryant's run, Durant struggled.
He was hounded by Ron Artest all game. And in the final minutes, Pau Gasol drew a charge on Durant and then helped Artest cause a Durant turnover.
Durant finished with 32 points on 12-for-26 shooting, but recorded a eight turnovers, which tied a career high.
Nevertheless, playing the defending champs this closely gives the Thunder confidence heading home.
"Our energy on the defensive end was phenomenal," said Durant, whose team recorded 17 blocks and held the Lakers to 37.5 percent shooting in Game 2 and 41 percent shooting in Game 1. "We just have to correct the offensive."
Game 3 will be in Oklahoma City on Thursday and will be no easy task.
"That place is going to be rocking and rolling," Bryant said. "These young guys play with a lot of energy here so multiply that by 10. The last time [a 91-75 loss] we were up there they did a number on us. We are well aware of what they are capable of and how explosive they are. It's going to be exciting."
For the first time in more than a month, Bryant seemed to have control of his jumper and was aggressive for much of the game. His first shot, a 21-footer from the left wing, was nothing but net. His stepback fallaway -- a shot that has abandoned him for the last few games -- was dialed in.
He ended shooting a pedestrian 12-for-28 from the field, but that's far better than the 30.3 percent clip he had been shooting in the month of April. He also found his rhythm at line making 13-for-15.
"You expect him to make big shots," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "Unfortunately he did again tonight."
The Lakers trailed did trail at halftime. But Gasol came alive in the third period. After scoring 10 points in the first half, Gasol recorded 11 in the third period. He finished the game with 25 points on 8-for-14 shooting and snagged 12 rebounds.
After a stellar Game 1, Andrew Bynum didn't have the same impact. He had six points on 3-for-9 shooting and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes of play. Other role players like Derek Fisher (five points, 2-for-10) and Artest (five points, 2-for-10) also had little impact offensively, but their play defensive was stellar.
Fisher was responsible for Russell Westbrook's foul trouble and Artest shut down Durant down the stretch.
Plagued with foul trouble all game, Westbrook finished with 19 points on 5-for-10 shooting in 29 minutes.
Fisher drew three of Westbrook's early fouls with his cagy veteran experience and aggressiveness. Westbrook, who played a total of 10 minutes in the first half, picked up an early reach-in and then an offensive foul. His second personal was at the 5:35 mark and the Lakers finished the quarter outscoring the Thunder 15-5 to go up 26-18 at the end of the first quarter.
Though he didn't hold Durant to another 7-for-24 performance, Artest did make life tough for the NBA's leading scorer.
"Ron has done a great job," Lamar Odom said. "He's made [Durant] take tough shots."
5 OKC’s edge in fastbreak points, much better than the 14-2 margin it held in Game 1.
8 Turnovers for Kevin Durant, including two crucial cough ups in the final minutes, thanks to Ron Artest (four steals) and Pau Gasol’s helping hands. Durant did manage 32 points on 12-of-26 shooting with eight boards and four blocks.
17 Blocks for the Thunder, the league’s best shot-blocking team in the regular season, though they managed only three swats in Game 1. Serge Ibaka had seven of them himself.
19 Offensive boards for the Lakers, thanks in part to the Thunder’s super-aggressive defensive style, as OKC’s bigs repeatedly went for blocks. L.A. won the overall battle of the glass 49-37.
39 Points from Kobe Bryant to lead all scorers, on 12-of-28 shooting and 13-of-15 from the line. He scored 15 of his points in the fourth quarter and added five boards with two steals and an assist.
Mike Trudell, Lakers.com
Lakers’ Coach Phil Jackson on tonight’s game:
“Well we got a momentum change in the second quarter. They came out and played a stellar second quarter; got some blocked shots, we messed up some fast breaks, we changed the momentum in the game and had had ourselves a real difficult time out there and it gave them the opportunity to get in this game and stay in.”
On Andrew Bynum’s performance:
“He had the game, you know, where he could control. I thought in the first half he took a lot of shots that forced into shooting the ball off transition, you know, in difficult situations out there. In the second half, he had the game in front of him and he could kind of read what he wanted to do and it was much better.”
On the Lakers’ free throw shooting tonight:
“We missed some down the stretch, a few down in the last minute there that… hurt us. There’s been a situation for us lately in which we’re going to have to really buck up and start seriously taking our attempts because of the reasons that cost us these ball games.”
Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on whether he made a conscious effort to be aggressive offensively tonight:
“Yea, I had to be more aggressive… Being about what I do, what I do best, so I just had to be more aggressive and then the truth would follow through.”
On making adjustments on his shot:
“My finger felt fine; it felt good… I put in a lot, a lot of work over the last month or so everyday, just kind of fine tuning things. Trying to figure things out with the stroke, trying to get it back to being consistent, and tonight it felt good.”
On his mindset coming into the fourth quarter:
“You know I had to get something going. It’s a mixture kind of what the defense gives you but also being creative and creating those opportunities. And in four quarters I’m going to have to provide a spark, whether it’s off a pass or scoring myself.”
On the Thunder’s defense:
“They’re the best shot-blocking team in the league and they do a great job of taking charges down low so they are a very solid defensive team. They protect the basket and as a result a lot of easy opportunities that we normally get at the rim are contested ones.”
Lakers’ Center Andrew Bynum on being up 2-0 in the series:
“We got to go on Thursday, ready to close out the series. Can’t let them gain any momentum. They’re going to be on, they’re going to be playing harder, more aggressive. And we just have to step up our defensive game up and keep them down.”
On the adjustments that need to be made for Game 3:
“Obviously we need to shoot the ball better. Especially me, missed a bunch of shots today.”
Lakers’ Forward Lamar Odom on tonight’s game:
“We just took our time and we found a way to win the game.”
On Thunder players’ athleticism:
“They’re the youngest team in the league. You expect that from them. Just by getting to the basket, getting to the hole.”
On the Lakers offense tonight:
“We want to share the ball a little bit more. Two guys in double digits. But when those two guys are Pau and Kobe, you can fill it up.”
On Ron Artest’s defense on Kevin Durant:
“Ron has done a great job. He’s made him take tough shots.”
Lakers’ Pau Gasol on the Thunder defense:
“We didn’t do a good job of recognizing how much they were trying to pack the lane in. We’ve got to make sure when we put the ball on the floor, we’re ready to kick it out and find our shooters and get them good looks out there. They really collapsed the lane and they did a good job of blocking shots, obviously and rebounding pretty well.”
On whether making more jumpers would help the Lakers counter the Thunder defensive presence down low:
“I would be good. It will help if we make a couple jumpers, open things up because then they are going to have to make an adjustment. We have to recognize how much they try to pack the lane.”
On whether the Lakers need to turn up the intensity in Oklahoma City:
“A lot, actually. I think we’re going to have to play even harder and smarter. Can’t get too tentative out there. Just got to play our game.”
Lakers’ Guard Jordan Farmar on Kobe Bryant’s offensive contribution to the team:
“He should not be caring the weight like that. We have too much talent on this team and when we spread it around, it makes it much easier in the long run.”
Thunder Coach Scott Brooks on tonight’s game:
“That was about as well as we can play and just came up a little short. A couple of times the last three or four weeks, we’ve had games like this where both teams laid it on the line and somebody has to end up losing the game. Unfortunately, we lost the game tonight.”
On what made the difference tonight:
“Kobe made some big shots down the stretch. We didn’t come up with the stops that we need. Overall, I was very happy with the way we played. Unfortunately, we didn’t come away with the win. I thought our guys, defensively, that’s two games in a row we gave the effort defensively. That’s how you win games. We’re still trying to figure out how to win some of these close games. I thought our guys played with great pride.”
On the momentum of this series:
“The Lakers did what they are supposed to do. They protect their home court. The one thing I told the guys: ‘just because it’s game three in our building -- and we have a great building, everybody is excited about it -- we still got to go out there and leave all of our energy and all of our efforts on the floor at the Ford Center.’ I’m excited about it.”
On Game 3 in Oklahoma City:
“I’m excited to come back with the same kind of defensive mentality that gave us a chance to win the game tonight.”
Thunder’s Forward Kevin Durant on what the Thunder could have done differently to win:
“I wish I could tell you because then maybe we would have won. I think we ran the plays that coach drew up, we could have run our cuts a little longer. Russell [Westbrook] missed a jumper in the lane that looked good when it left his hands. The last play that was drawn up for me felt good when it [the ball] left my hands, but they [Lakers] are a great team with just great defense. To be honest with you I really don’t know.”
On the Thunders’ confidence from playing such a close game:
“I think that our offense was phenomenal. Our energy on a defensive end was phenomenal; of course you cannot play perfect defense an entire game. We got a lot of offensive rebounds and we played hard. One of the hardest games we have played all season. It gives us confidence that we are going back to our home court, it is a good thing. We have to take care of business at our home.”
On defending Andrew Bynum:
“We are trying to close them up. They do a great job running their triangle offense. It is easy to overload on that strong side. Whoever has the ball we try to make it tough on them. Of course Andrew is so tall and athletic. We played hard tonight and I know we had some mistakes, but we just have to learn how to correct them a get ready to play game three.”
Oklahoma City Thunder’s Guard Russell Westbrook on their effort in tonight’s game:
“It was a tough game. We fought hard and we just weren’t able to come out with the victory.”
On whether it was tough to lose such a close game:
“Definitely. We were close throughout the game and we fought strong, and we just weren’t able to come up with the big shot.”
On whether the home crowd in Oklahoma City makes a difference in the way the Thunder plays:
“We can’t settle. We got to go in and play the same way we played tonight on the defensive end, and hopefully come out with a win.”
Oklahoma City Thunder’s Forward Jeff Green on whether they can beat the Lakers:
“Yea. Well I mean our offense isn’t always there. As far as our defense, I think we can pick it up a little bit. But we’re going home to our crowd which is gonna give us a lot of energy and we’re gonna be ready to play.”
On his own shooting in tonight’s game:
“I’m getting the looks I want, they’re just not falling. But I’m still confident in my shot and I’m gonna continue to shoot them and they’re gonna drop when I go home.
On guarding Kobe Bryant in tonight’s game:
“It was very difficult, especially when he gets it going. When he gets to the free throw line or when he gets some rhythm going. But he is one of the top players in this league. It’s a great challenge for myself but you know, I had great teammates who had my back and I’m gonna continue to guard hard.”
Oklahoma City Thunder’s Center Serge Ibaka on competing against the Lakers:
“They’re just a good team and it’s tough. They’re focused and aggressive.”
By Beth Harris, AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Phil Jackson wants a better sustained effort from the Lakers against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He got it for one quarter in the playoff opener, then watched the defending champions lose energy the rest of the way.
The Lakers won 87-79 Sunday mostly on the strength of their dominating first quarter, in which 7-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum scored and rebounded with abandon and the team shot 54 percent.
Although never losing the lead, the Lakers didn’t win another quarter and the Thunder got within six points with 3 1/2 minutes remaining.
“Our guys sustaining that effort is where we really have to keep working,” Jackson said after practice Monday. “The big issue with us is we have to have good court balance, take good shots so that their run-out opportunities aren’t available to them or they’re more difficult than they’ve been.”
A subdued Kobe Bryant said he shares Jackson’s concern, although he maintains that getting the win was the most important thing.
“We’ll do better,” he said. “The games are prettier when you score a lot of points and stuff like that, and that’s what we’re capable of doing but at the end of the day, defense and rebounding wins championships.”
Bryant scored 21 points on 6 of 19 shooting, but missed five of 12 free throws. He’s been bothered by a swollen right knee, a broken right index finger and a sore tendon in his left ankle, all of which contributed to his missing four out of the team’s final five games.
“His shot selection, he’s had to narrow that down a little bit because he can’t just elevate and get over people,” Jackson said. “In the second half, I thought he might have tired.”
Bryant went limited minutes on the practice court Monday, although Jackson said he arrived early to work on his shooting.
“He was very subdued when he was in the training room and in the video room,” the coach said. “I didn’t initiate a conversation but once with him.”
Lakers reserve center DJ Mbenga will be re-evaluated on Tuesday after undergoing retinal surgery. He was hit near his left eye twice in practice last week and will have to wear protective glasses if he’s cleared to play.
The Thunder will be looking for its first playoff win since moving from Seattle two years ago in Game 2 at Staples Center on Tuesday night.
“We can’t let them dictate our offense for us,” Jeff Green said. “We have to be more aggressive as far as getting to the rim, making them move side to side, not allowing them to set up on one side of the floor by zoning us up. It’s numerous things that we can do to have a better offensive game.”
The Lakers expect a better offensive effort from Kevin Durant in Game 2. The NBA’s scoring champion had 24 points—six under his average—on 7 of 24 shooting while being hounded by Ron Artest.
“Kevin is one of the great players in this league and all great players have nights like this,” Russell Westbrook said. “He’s going to find his way.”
Durant didn’t speak with reporters before practice Monday.
The Thunder played tentatively in the early going of Game 1, not surprising for the NBA’s youngest team.
“The second game, those nerves won’t be there and they’ll be more effective coming out of the gate,” Gasol predicted.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said his team can’t defend any better than it did in the opener, but their offense must improve. Durant said he was frustrated by missing shots that had gone down for him in the regular season.
“Kevin is just going to have to keep working,” Brooks said. “He’s had some bad shooting nights, but what he needs to do is find other ways to help us win. He’s one of our better rebounders and he needs to be able to do that better.”
Jackson’s teams have never lost a playoff series after winning Game 1, going 44-for-44 with Chicago and the Lakers.
“This is a very good opportunity now to give them a good psychological hit,” Gasol said. “Get an even more convincing win in Game 2, then go to Oklahoma.”
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 Scouting Report
The subtle wrinkles that coaches use to enhance a common play set is an area that we examine as we prepare for game 2. A specific example of this that Oklahoma City used in Game 1 was their play called “DOUBLE DOUBLE”. While that call makes many people think of in-n-out burgers, for us it is a challenging sequence that Oklahoma City has used with great success this season. This is a double high screen and roll that can be used as a play set or as part of their secondary offense that they flow into. They like to set the double high screen on the ball then both screeners continue on to set a staggered screen for someone coming out of the corner (usually Durant). There are many possible scoring opportunities out of this action and if all else fails they usually end up with Durant in an isolation in the middle of the floor.
Regster to Lakers Courtside Connection to read more.
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.
DJ Mbenga (retinal surgery, left eye) is doubtful.
Nenad Krstic (right knee contusion) is day-to-day
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).