The Lakers should never let the Thunder rally from 26 down for a win



The Thunder's Josh Giddey and Kenrich Williams break up a scuffle between Darius Bazley and Russell Westbrook
Oklahoma City forward Darius Bazley (7) and Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) jaw as Thunder guard Josh Giddey and forward Kenrich Williams, right, intercede Wednesday night in Oklahoma City. (Garett Fisbeck / Associated Press)

I stopped watching in the second quarter so here are five observations from the Lakers’ win — wait, what happened? They lost? Here are five observations from that 123-115 debacle in Oklahoma City Wednesday night:

1. That thing you do (but don’t want to)

What happened to the Lakers should never happen to professional basketball teams, especially in situations like this. After 20 minutes, the Lakers led by 26 against maybe the worst team in the NBA. No one should’ve expected the Lakers to run that lead to 50. And no one should’ve been too shocked when the exact opposite happened.

Leads in the NBA go away quickly, especially when an opponent gets taken lightly. And that’s the best explanation for how the Lakers coughed up that lead and ended up gifting the Thunder their first win this season.

“This is a game we’re definitely supposed to win. Not supposed to lose at all,” Anthony Davis said. “But we’ll learn from it and move forward.”

Russell Westbrook added, “We had the game in our hands. We lost the game, simple as that.”

Everyone, especially a veteran team like the Lakers. should know that even the slightest let-up can give an opponent new life. But even though they knew it, they couldn’t stop it from happening.

The key is for this to be the exception and not the rule.

2. The full Russ

Westbrook had his first triple-double as a Laker, the kind of do-it-all performance that he’s mastered better than anyone else who ever played in the NBA.

He also had 10 turnovers and got called for two technical fouls.

“I’ve got to take care of the ball. Simple,” Westbrook said. “Just making plays and trying to make lobs and too many mishaps allowed. It’s my fault. It’s on me. But I’m going to take care of it. I know that. And keep the game simple. Because we need those possessions, especially in games like this.”

His 47 assists are tops in the NBA. His 30 turnovers are, too. The some good/some bad that’s defined Westbrook’s career is already of full display. The Lakers need to make sure that scale is tipping in the right direction.

3. Let’s write ’em down

There are the rules in the book and the ones that aren’t, and keeping track of the ones that aren’t is impossible.

Apparently Darius Bazley violated one of those, picking off an inbounds pass and throwing down a dunk in the final seconds of a game that was already decided. Westbrook was offended, confronted the second-year player and picked up his second technical foul leading to his ejection.

“It is what it is,” Westbrook said. “I thought the first tech, honestly, wasn’t even a tech. The last one, that was tech. That’s cool, but how I play the game, and I’m more old school. And when s— like that happen, I don’t let it slide. I’ll take it on the chin and move on. But in the game of basketball, there’s certain things you just don’t do, like in baseball, you don’t flip the bat. There’s certain things you don’t do in sports when the game already over. And I didn’t like it. Simple as that.”

4. AD OK

Anthony Davis was at least able to play, keeping the Lakers’ rotten injury luck from getting any worse.

Davis had been listed as questionable after banging knees with San Antonio’s Dejounte Murray late in the fourth quarter Tuesday. He went through an on-court workout before Wednesday’s game and was cleared to go.

He had 30 points and eight rebounds in 36-plus minutes, a good sign that his knee was OK.

5. The big issue

Yeah, the Lakers are banged up. Yeah, they’re trying to find themselves and get used to one another. But those cannot be excuses for the Lakers’ putrid performances in the third quarter this season.

Offensive rating (point per 100 possessions) /Defensive rating (points allowed per 100 loss) /Net

First quarter: 108.0 / 111.4 / minus-3.4

Second quarter: 103.7/ 116.3 / minus 12.6

Third quarter: 92.4 /135.1 / minus-42.7

Fourth quarter: 123.0 / 106.6 / plus 16.4

Overtime: 110.0 / 77.8 / plus 32.3

The Lakers have been wildly inconsistent so far this season. For them to get any closer to being the team they want to be, that’s got to get fixed.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.


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