After completing the sweep against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Los Angeles Lakers patiently waited to see who their next opponent was going to be: the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Utah Jazz? It took seven games to decide, but Thunder came out on top, continuing their pleasantly surprising first season without Russell Westbrook.
However, with each game that the Thunder win, they become less of a surprise and more of a legitimate threat, and the Lakers knew that going into their first game against them on Tuesday. Despite this, the Lakers looked like they were playing down to the Thunder in the first quarter, getting outscored 25-18. Dion Waiters had a particularly hard time getting to the basket with Andre Roberson guarding him. Somehow, Roberson is still one of the best defensive guards in the NBA, even though he’s been sidelined for almost three years with an injury.
The Lakers made a run in the second quarter led by LeBron James, who scored 14 of his game-high 35 points in the second quarter, but once they came out of the locker room at halftime, they once again looked unenergized and sluggish. As a result, the Thunder outscored them 36-25, and took 76-61 lead going into the final frame. The Lakers needed a jolt of energy, and they got it from Anthony Davis.
Davis scored 10 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter on a perfect 4-4 shooting from the field. However, it was his 22nd point that was the most important. With less than three minutes to go in the fourth, the Thunder trailed by 4 points, and Chris Paul was getting a favorable switch on Dwight Howard every time down the floor. When Paul finally missed, James pushed the ball up the court and found Davis for the basket of the night.
After Davis’ basket, the Lakers took complete control of the game, and won 112-104. Tuesday marked the Lakers’ first Western Conference Semifinals win since the 2011-12 season.
The Lakers will try and avoid letting the Thunder hang around when they seem again on Thursday. Nerlens Noel, who suffered a torn meniscus, has been ruled out for the remainder of the playoffs.