The Los Angeles Lakers view of a winning record proved to be momentary. The Lakers slid below .500 once again after losing 122-105 to the best team in the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder’s usual suspects were on, as usual. Now matter how much the Lakers could have turned it around from one month previously, allowing 122 points is no way to win a basketball game, or make the playoffs.
In over 35 minutes, Russell Westbrook had a double-double against his home town team with 37 points and 10 rebounds. Holding to form, the Lakers could not keep the athletic guard out of the paint. Westbrook only attempted 2 shots from 3-point land, half of his average for the year. He got to the rim whenever he wanted. Kevin Durant added 26 points. And even though the Lakers cut the lead to 5 points late, the Thunder both began and ended the game with a big lead.
There is still time to finally turn the corner and show a different Lakers team. But giving up 122 points illuminates that the Lakers need to do more than just make up 2.5 games on the 8th seeded Jazz. If the Lakers even turn it around in this gut-check part of the season they are going to need to do more than just qualify for the playoffs. They are going to need to avoid Oklahoma City. The Lakers allowed 122 points in their final regular season contest against the Thunder.
The Thunder are currently in 2nd in the West, but they could invariably take over the top seed from the Tony Parker-less Spurs. If they do, the Lakers need to do more than just make the playoffs as the 8th seed. This is not the NHL.
Derek Fisher played his first significant minutes for the Thunder in 2013, and made a significant contribution on the floor. He bullied around Steve and Steve, got to the line after his usual coast to coast drive, and was 3-4 from the field. He played off the ball while Westbrook was on the floor, like he would have if he wore the same colored jersey as Kobe. And he showed once again that his timely play means teams want him on the floor, at times.
But with each outing like Tuesday’s against the Lakers, Fisher seems slightly less like a Laker. That’s not because he wouldn’t wear the Purple and Gold, but because management wouldn’t have him do it. Nevertheless, he, Russell Wilson, and Reggie Jackson continually made the Lakers guards look bad on their way to scoring 122 points.