Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers Game Recap – Dec. 23, 2015

By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer | mailbag@okcthunder.com

LOS ANGELES – With about four-and-a-half minutes to go before halftime, the Thunder flipped a switch. Whether it was getting angry or finding a groove, Billy Donovan’s club got every shot it wanted and was absolutely suffocating on the defensive end for the next 10 minutes of game action. That’s all that was needed to generate a runaway win.  

The Thunder’s 120-85 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night started off on the right foot, as it built a 25-10 lead early in the first quarter. The Lakers rallied back, however, eventually taking a three-point lead mid-way through the second period.

That’s when the Thunder decided that enough was enough, and on the backs of the starting five of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams, it blew the doors off the game. Donovan’s club ended the first half on a 14-2 run, then out of the halftime break it held the Lakers scoreless until the 6:21 mark of the third quarter, putting together a 22-0 burst to start the half.

By the time the Lakers came to after that knockout blow, it was a 34-2 spurt that spanned halftime for the Thunder, and enough to ensure the starters could sit out the final quarter. It was a dizzying display of intensity, focus and downright incredible athleticism as the Thunder turned steals, blocked shots and defensive rebounds into immediate offense at the rim.

 

 

“We had some good defensive stances, we got out on the fast break, we shared the basketball and we played the right way,” Donovan said.  

“It’s fun basketball when everybody’s touching it and everybody feels involved,” Durant echoed. “We were making plays for each other. It’s fun to see the ball hopping around and everybody getting good shots.”

For the night, the Thunder defense held the Lakers to just 36.0 percent shooting while forcing 13 turnovers. Outside of the run the Lakers made in the second quarter, Oklahoma City used its length, size and quickness to cover up areas of the floor where Los Angeles tried to attack, then forced the Lakers into difficult decisions and contested shots.

On offense, the Thunder simply rolled, aside from the three-point line. On the night, it shot 53.7 percent from the field, including 46-for-76 inside the arc. The Thunder’s proficiency inside was so great that it outscored the Lakers 76-32 in the paint, which was partly due to its 27-7 advantage in fast break points on the night.

 

 

“We have a level that we need to play as a team and we came out and competed at a high level,” point guard Russell Westbrook said. “We did a good job of keeping our pace up, playing together and moving the ball around. Everybody was getting shots and everything was flowing.”

Westbrook relentlessly attacked the rim, scoring 23 points and registering eight assists and eight rebounds in 29 minutes, while Kevin Durant scored 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting to go with seven rebounds and five assists. Serge Ibaka added 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting and Enes Kanter scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds off the bench.

 

Watch Thunder Highlights:

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Roberson Shines on Both Ends

The catalyst all night for the Thunder, in many ways, was Roberson. The third-year guard scored a career-high 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting to go with seven rebounds and three assists. He was a threat at the rim for alley-oops and put-backs, but more importantly he was extremely disruptive on the defensive end, which helped lead to offense.

 

Andre Roberson scores career-high 15, blocks 4 shots, grabs 7 rebounds, 2 steals.

A photo posted by Oklahoma City Thunder (@okcthunder) on

 

“Andre Roberson gave us a great defensive effort,” Donovan said. “There is so much more to defense than someone just being able to guard the ball. Chasing around Kobe or Lou Williams, they’re running off of screens and they are back cutting. There are multiple options for these guys reading screens. You really have to be engaged and locked in on what you’re doing.”

“He was active with his hands, he got out on the fast break, he ran the floor, he put pressure at the basket offensively, he had a couple nice back cuts, he had some great contests on jump shots and came up with a lot of loose basketballs,” Donovan continued. “He created scoring opportunities for us even though he may not have been the one scoring. He did a lot of positive things all the way around tonight.”

Roberson’s impact was personified by the first play of the second half, where he blocked a shot and then raced down floor for an alley-oop dunk off a Westbrook pass.

 

 

His energy and effort produced two steals and four blocked shots, along with a high in plus/minus for any player in the league this year at plus-45 for the night.

“The chemistry is definitely growing stronger and stronger each and every game,” Roberson said. “I’m just trying to find out when to be in the right positions and where to be. It’s coming along day-by-day.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

By the Numbers

19 – Number of times this year Enes Kanter has scored at least ten points off the bench, the most for a forward or center in one season in Thunder history

61-35 – The Thunder’s rebounding margin, which was an area of emphasis coming into the game

76 – Points in the paint for the Thunder, the most in a regulation game in Thunder history

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The Last Word

“We just took care of where we want to be towards the end of the year. We did a good job of taking two big steps with two road wins for us. We just have to get ready for Christmas.” – point guard Russell Westbrook

 

 

Tags
1/
Tags