What's that, you say? They actually played the 4th quarter? Damn it! I slipped out for some late night bocce ball, and thought I could get away with it scot-free.
Well, the journalistic integrity demanded by SB Nation at all times requires that I report that the 4th quarter was in fact played, and the Lakers scrubs did manage to win said quarter by 17 points to downgrade the final margin of defeat from apocalypse to just a category 5 hurricane level disaster. The real final score was 91-75.
If we're being honest, this game was over in the 1st quarter. I flipped over after watching my college team of choice make it to the elite 8 for the first time in it's history (karma really came back to bite you in the ass for talking about how easily Ohio State was going to make the championship game there, Wave), and it took me all of 5 minutes game time before I was ready to declare this "just one of those nights". I'm not trying to discredit a wonderful defensive performance by the OKC Thunder, or make light of a Lakers performance for the ages (in a bad way), but you have to take results like this with a grain of salt. The Lakers weren't getting any breaks, and they sure as hell weren't making any breaks for themselves, so the result was surprisingly predictable.
Tonight's game was the epitome of Murphy's Law. Some of what went wrong was completely and utterly foreseeable. Did we know Russell Westbrook would dance on Derek Fisher's grave? Yes. Did we know that the Thunder's combination of length and athleticism would bother our already struggling offense? Yes. Did we know that lineups featuring Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga would play minutes that fell outside of garbage time? We thought we did, but by the time DJ Mbenga checked in to start the 2nd quarter, you could make the case that garbage time was in full effect, so I guess we were wrong on this one.
Here's what we didn't know. We didn't know that Kobe Bryant would almost have a double-double in points and turnovers ... in the 1st half. Mamba had 8 TOs by halftime, and as it turns out, when a Mamba bites himself that many times, he's still poisonous. We didn't know that Pau Gasol could be intimidated by a seven footer who's even more Euro-soft than he is, as Pau struggled to an all too familiar 3-10 on the night against the defensive presence of Nenad Krstic. We could have guessed that Ron Artest wouldn't be able to sniff the basket, or that Derek Fisher would put up 5 bad shots and make one of them (+ 1 layup that was actually the right decision, 2-6 on the night), or that Kobe would struggle a bit with the length of Thabo Sefalosha. We might also have known that the Thunder. What we couldn't have known is that all of this would happen at once.
Hell, even the one Laker who gave a damn (Lamar Odom, who was the only player keeping this from being even more embarassing) struggled (relatively) from the field. When Lamar is as aggressive as he was in this game (he took the most shots of anybody on the team), he usually is damn near unstoppable. Tonight, he missed more than half his shots, though he deserves all the credit in the world for trying to dig the Lakers out of this cesspool. He and Adam Morrison really tried to make this a game.
Phil Jackson couldn't care less about this game. You knew that when he responded to a double digit deficit at the end of the 1st quarter with a lineup of DJ Mbenga, Josh Powell, Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar and Ron Artest in the 2nd quarter. I mean jeez, PJ, couldn't you have interrupted AMMO and Sasha's tea party to make that lineup even more pathetic? Was Fisher too busy crafting his retirement speech? If you are going to put something that bad out there, can't you at least have some fun with it? Not 48 hours after taking great pains to make sure that Mbenga and Powell never saw the floor at the same time, PJ threw them out together early and often in this one. In any case, I've made it my policy that if PJ doesn't care about a result, neither do I.
Kudos to the Thunder. They got a nice win against a good team, which is sure to do their confidence wonders. My Laker fandom shudders at the thought of meeting them in the playoffs, but my NBA fandom salivates at the prospect. They are a great team to watch, and if the core all ignore the fact that they are in the middle of nowhere and stay together, it could end up being a special group in about 2-4 years. Hell, they are pretty special right now.
Stats just don't make any sense tonight, save one. Good ol' PPP can tell us just how badly the Lakers played offensively tonight. Not willing to go easy on the Lakers and include the mockery that was the 4th quarter, I've done it by quarter and cumulatively. Take a good long look, and then look away before you are blinded by the ugliness.