Despite one of their best quarters of the season to open the game, the severely shorthanded Lakers fell to the Thunder on Thursday, 133-110.
Anthony Davis was impressive from the onset and one of the few positives for the team as he poured in 31 points on 11-18 shooting with 14 rebounds. LeBron had 21 points, 13 rebounds and six assists while D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves combined for 30 points while the former had 10 assists for a double-double.
Offense, though, wasn’t the issue for the Lakers. The Thunder had their way on the other end, shooting 53.3% from the field and outscoring the Lakers in second-chance points, fastbreak points and points in the paint.
Injuries left the Lakers with a barebones roster. After making his return on Wednesday, Cam Reddish was out on Thursday on the second night of back-to-back. Jaxson Hayes joined him as a scratch on the day, leaving the team with seven non-rookies available.
The lack of available bodies, the second night of a back-to-back and the fourth and final game of the road trip all amounted to a team that looked like it was running on empty for most of the contest.
Given the opponent and the circumstances, the Lakers started the game with their best first-quarter effort of the season. And much of that came because of Davis.
From the opening tip, AD was dominant and imposed his will on the game and poured in 15 points in the first frame. Mix in a strong shooting start from range and the Lakers built a lead as large as 14 points.
AD takes the rookie to school pic.twitter.com/8wJGR8buik— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) December 1, 2023
Expectedly, the Thunder did not lay down and got themselves back in the game, first through Shai Gilgeous-Alexander late in the first quarter and then with multiple others chipping in heading into the second quarter. OKC eventually moved back ahead at the 7:26 mark of period two at 48-46 after a Jalen Williams layup.
The foul trouble began to mount for the Lakers and the outside shooting regressed to the mean, leading to an 11-point lead at 65-54 after a 17-4 run. As the half wore on, the Lakers looked clearly a step slower than the Thunder and headed into the locker room down 12, totaling a 26-point swing in the first half alone.
There was no surge out of the game in the second half for the Lakers as the lead only grew. A timeout midway through the quarter came with OKC up 91-75 after consecutive layups for Luguentz Dort. Ultimately, there was no run that was going to come as the lead kept growing in the quarter with the hosts leading 108-88 after three.
While the fourth quarter would offer one more try to make a run for the Lakers, they resisted the urge to make it competitive even as the Thunder presented plenty of opportunities for the visitors to get back into the game. The lead was trimmed to 15 points on a couple of occasions and the Lakers did play just hard enough to keep the game interesting for most of the quarter.
But the game was more or less officially over on a five-point swing with just over four minutes remaining. LeBron found AD for a dunk that would have cut the lead to 13 but was blocked before OKC knocked down a 3-pointer on the other end, instead pushing the lead to 18.
That moment served as the moment head coach Darvin Ham threw in the towel as, after a timeout, the Lakers emptied their bench.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.