OKC Thunder: Five takeaways from 105-86 win vs. Los Angeles Lakers
The Thunder never trailed and routed the Los Angeles Lakers 105-86 Wednesday night in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, raising its NBA restart record to 2-1.
Here are five takeaways from the Thunder’s impressive victory:
Paul’s third quarter
None of the stars for either team distinguished themselves in the first half. That changed in the third quarter.
While Lakers LeBron James and Anthony Davis continued to struggle (two of 10 shooting in the period), the Thunder’s Chris Paul took control. CP3 made four of five shots, had two of OKC’s six assists in the quarter. The Thunder had just seven assists in the entire first half.
Paul finished with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, with seven rebounds and six assists.
The Lakers made just five of 37 3-point shots and missed open looks. But the Thunder made things tough on LeBron James and didn’t give Anthony Davis many shots at all.
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Davis made just three of his 11 shots and was just 3-of-8 inside the 3-point arc. Steve Adams, Nerlens Noel and even Danilo Gallinari held up well against Davis.
LeBron, who leads the league in assists, had just four against OKC. He finished with 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting. Lu Dort and Andre Roberson had most of the LeBron duties. “I thought Lu and Andre, both those guys did the very very best they could,” Donovan said. “Certainly I thought we had a good team effort in getting back, letting him see a crowd (in transition).”
Surviving Schröder’s absence
The Thunder rose to 1-1 without Dennis Schröder in the Orlando bubble. The supersub left Florida to be with his wife, who just gave birth to their second child.
Without Schröder, the Thunder bench is hard-pressed to score. Against the Lakers, OKC’s reserves produced just 20 points and made just seven of 22 shots.
But Hamidou Diallo provided energy (and six rebounds), Roberson played solid defense and Noel was active in his 18 minutes before fouling out.
Thunder center Steven Adams left the game with 7:33 left in the third quarter, with an apparent lower left leg injury.
Lakers center JaVale McGee fell on Adams’ leg earlier in the period, after Adams crashed to the floor after making a basket, and Adams was noticeably bothered for the next few possessions.
“Fell over, hurt myself, found out I made the bucket and it just healed, mate; that’s how it goes,” Adams said, calling his injury to “an appendage. It’s fine.”
The Thunder led 62-51 when Adams departed but went on a 17-8 run without him to take a 20-point lead. Adams returned with 1:06 left in the third quarter and OKC up 79-66.
Adams finished strong, with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds.
“Seemed like he was fine,” Donovan said. “I didn’t quite see how he took the fall. But he was fine. We got him out of the game, let him kind of gather himself. So hopefully there will be no residual effects tomorrow. I think our guys got through the game healthy.”
Better ball security
Before the game, Thunder coach Billy Donovan bemoaned all the turnovers his team has committed both in bubble exhibitions and the first two seeding games. Then OKC committed nine turnovers in the first half Wednesday.
Paul said that’s not a “rust” factor, it’s a “me factor. I’m the one leading the team in turnovers. For real. I’ve got to take better care of the ball. I had a few tonight, like four, maybe five (five it was). I’ve got to make better decisions, if I’m going to have the ball in my hands as much as I do. My brother talks junk, all day every day, and I know I’m going to hear it after this one.”
But the Thunder committed just four turnovers in the second half, before Donovan cleared the bench in the final two minutes. The Lakers had just five points off turnovers in the second half.