I always say, “If you’re going to fail, then fail spectacularly.”
The Lakers must have heeded those words on Monday night, as Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal series was nothing short of a bloodbath. Oklahoma City took a 15-point lead into halftime … and then it got ugly. The Thunder outscored the Lakers by 15 points in the third quarter, thereby making the fourth quarter academic.
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for 52 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists in the blowout victory.
Los Angeles played for the fifth time in nine nights, and it showed. The quick-hit, fast-paced Oklahoma City offense controlled the pace, shot the lights out from three-point range early in the third quarter (53% from the field overall) and committed only four turnovers, a number that you will hear referenced one million times in the next 48 hours.
Everyone waited for the response to Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) in Oklahoma City following the James Harden incident from the regular season. His “I don’t shake hands with subs” ranks among the greatest one-liners that we’ve heard in quite some time. Embrace your inner villain, I say. Harden scored 17 points on 4-for-11 shooting with nine free throws.
All season, the knock on the Lakers (inconsistent play from their 7-footers aside) was their bench. That wasn’t the case on Monday night. The Lakers’ starters all finished the game with a +/- of -19 or worse.
Blame it on tired legs from the Lakers, if you must. The Thunder certainly exhibited no rust, as some might have anticipated, coming out of their extended break. Fresh legs, young legs and hot shooting — a recipe for disaster if you’re a fan of the Lakers.
I posted this to my Twitter account (@swollendome):
At least Kobe, Bynum & Gasol only had to play 32, 30 and 30 minutes, respectively … #silverlinings
Game 2 is set for Wednesday. Mike Brown, under fire for needing seven games to eliminate the Nuggets, is going to need an answer for Russell Westbrook.