Upset Loss, Kobe Injury Apocalypse Narrowly Averted

OK, the important stuff first: Kobe Bryant's left knee appears to be fine. In the middle of the third quarter tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he landed weirdly on it while scrapping for an offensive rebound. It looked like a slight hyperextension, he stayed on the ground grabbing the knee for a few moments, and he limped when he got up. He didn't miss any action, however, and after the game said it's not going to be a problem. Everyone unclench.

The Los Angeles Lakers needed every second he could give them tonight. The Thunder gave a vivacious effort on the road and nearly snagged the upset. In the second quarter they had a 12-point lead as they exploited a turnover-happy Laker offense and an enervated, possibly jetlagged, Laker D. Finally toward the end of the first half the Lakers started making some threes, and the usual third quarter surge put L.A. up by six.

OKC hung around to the very end behind strong nights from Kevin Durant and local kid Russell Westbrook, but the Lakers made 11 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter to keep them at bay. A Westbrook trey that would've tied the game rimmed out with 0:02 on the clock, sending the Lakers to a 23-4 record. The final score was 111 to 108.

This wasn't a rousing display of force by any stretch. The Thunder aren't a good offensive team, and it took a lot of Laker defensive gaffes to keep them in the game. Were it not for Kobe's warrior-god awesomeness (40 points, 6 assists and 8 rebounds) and a nice contributing effort from Derek Fisher (15 points and 4 assists), this one could easily have gone sour.

Let's chalk tonight up as a useful exercise in fine-tuning. The Lakers now have a home game under their belts after the road trip out East, so they should be more crisp against Cleveland. Onward we go into the hype.

 

Poss.

TO%

FTA/
FGA

FT%

EFG%

TS%

Off Reb%

Def Reb%

PPP

OKC

99

14

0.26

83

48

53

30

70

1.09

L.A.

100

17

0.48

82

49

57

30

70

1.11

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