Now, what if you're in that same situation, but you owe someone $900? You have that money, and now you have to hand that over, maybe in 100 dollar bills. You're freaking out. You're so nervous that you can't tell if you have to pee or vomit. That's a palpable amount you can comprehend, and unfortunately, deal with. Oddly enough, $900 is a much scarier prospect than some abstract concept of owing a million dollars that you surely don't have.
I'm holding on to this very shoddy analogy like a small Asian boy holds on to his teddy bear at night as a 27 year-old living in New York City as I think about last night Lakers/Thunder game, in which YOUR...Oklahoma City Thunder laid a 119-90 shellacking on LA. The Lakers got jumped last night, but in many ways, a 29-point, out of control loss might be slightly easier to digest than a close, 10-point loss with 48 minutes of hustle. To examine, let's go over some numbers for Oklahoma:
- OKC shot 53% for the game, 41% from three and 81% from the line.
- After leading the league in the regular season in turnovers, OKC produced just 4 last night...and one was from Royal Ivey in garbage time
- James Harden, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored 69 points on 22 for 42 shooting
- Westbrook neared a triple-double with a 27/7/9 line
- Despite taking (and making) mostly jumpers during the game, the Thunder still scored 44 points in the point
- OKC scored 22 points off the Laker 15 turnovers and got to the free throw line nearly double the time
- The Thunder had 13 steals...to the Lakers 1
- LA shot a respectable 43%, but produced 15 turnovers
- The Lakers had zero (yes, ZERO) fast break points
- Even in losing by such a large margin, the Lakers still won the rebounding battle 43-41
- Andrew Bynum was active, throwing down a 20/14
- Taking out garbage time, the Lakers shot 5 for 12 from three-point range
- The Lakers got hung up for 39 points in the third quarter. They gave up less than that in the second half of Game 7 against the Nuggets
The Lakers weren't completely manhandled offensively, if you can believe it. They still shot 43% from the field, and before garbage time, crushed the Thunder on the boards. In the first quarter at least, the team seemed active, moving the ball around crisply, confusing the Thunder defense and leading to easy baskets for Andrew and Pau inside. Moving out to the three point line, in an achievement for LA, they shot 5 for 12 before the game got to the subs. At the stripe, they got there 15 times and sunk nearly all of their free throws. And then it all fell apart. The Thunder, as we've said before, were faster and more aggressive. They had the first step on every single possession, on both ends.
To me, the stats tell the story: every way that the Thunder beat them was on energy and aggression, which visually and statistically, the Lakers lacked. After an explosive first 10 minutes, keeping neck and neck with OKC, LA simply lost the explosiveness that we saw all throughout Game 7. They were slow getting around screens and rotating defensively. It's not like they weren't hustling or fighting; they just looked 2 steps slow. The passes weren't as crisp and their pivots weren't as tight. The Lakers simply could not control the pace of the game, a imperative task if the Lakers think they can win this series. It looked like LA had played a game 40 hours earlier in a city that's a 3 to 4 hour flight away, depending on tail winds.
All in all, the Thunder did exactly what they were supposed to do; they saw a weakness, attacked it and executed it with an assassin's efficiency. Please don't read this wrong; this Oklahoma team is really effing good. James Harden was unbelievable and somehow, your MVP-runner up Kevin Durant only looked like the third-best guy on his own team. But they're not perfect, and for the most part, they were last night. The Lakers, with more rested starters, have two days to regroup, rest and come out in Game 2 knowing that they're far better than how badly they got beat last night. Losing by 30 in many ways is so much easier than losing a close contest; you just chalk up a loss to one team playing poorly and the other one playing as best they possibly could. In a 10 point loss, I think the logic goes to "We gave them our best shot, and they're still standing. Damn."
This is a prideful Lakers team that knows their destiny if they were to make a relatively early exit in the playoffs. I'm not going to freak out and say that the Lakers have no chance of winning this series; I said it earlier this week that I think Oklahoma takes it in 7, but in that deciding game, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Lakers storm back. But I have to see more energy on Wednesday than I saw last night.
The Lakers aren't dead yet. Hang on, kids.