Here is a great inspirational clip from a fellow Laker fan (mramos4131) that features Al Pacino's Tony D'Amato's awesome "inch by inch" speech in "Any Given Sunday".
Enough with all the doomsday talk. Enough with all the analysis. Enough with all the comparisons of the past. Enough with the Lakers talking about their keys for Game 5.
It's all about what they must do NOW.
The Thunder doesn't care if the Lakers are the defending champs or if the Lakers have excessive amount of post-season experience over them. They don't care that Kobe Bryant is ailing. They don't care that Phil Jackson has won 10 titles as a head coach. To them, it's all about how they're going to spend their time with the big boys in the playoffs.
All the highs and lows of the season has been boiled down to Tuesday night. One game to decide months and months of preparation and all of the painstaking rehabilitation from all the injuries to defend the title.
Yes, they've been challenged prematurely but not surprisingly. This is what the playoffs is all about. The real season that separates the contenders from the pretenders, including the defending champs.
Success in the playoffs has always been in the hands of the Lakers. Not the referees. Not David Stern. And certainly not the Thunder.
This is it. What the Lakers do in Game 5 will be the defining point of their redemption or their damnation.
Other Notes: Shannon Brown has said that opting out of his contract could prove too tempting for him after the season. Brown signed a 2-year $4.15 million-dollar contract with the second year as a player option last summer. He is worth $2.15 million next year if he decides to accept it. Shannon believes that the impending new collective bargaining agreement might increase his market value.
Wow, another player who thinks he's worth more than he actually is. I like Shannon. But if he thinks he can get Jerry Buss into handing out more bad contracts than what he already has. Well, all I can say is...LetShannonGo.com.
Injury Update: Sasha Vujacic is coming along fine after severely spraining his left ankle against the Clippers in the final game of the regular season. But there's still no timetable for his return and will most likely not participate, at least, in the second round should the Lakers move on to that round.
Like I said before, it looks like Sasha's season is over.
As I sat watching the waning minutes of Game 4, I was going through everything that I can think of that has contributed to this lowest point of the Lakers this season. I know. I didn't think their final regular season loss to the Thunder could ever be topped (and this soon, too) at all.
But this is bad.
Not so much in a sense that they got blown out of "loud city" by 21 points, but more of how they got dismantled, disfigured, and discombobulated by a team of nobodys and Kevin Durant. I mean the Lakers are supposed to be the defending champs here. Then again, they rarely played like champs this season.
Injuries certainly has a good say to what's been hindering the Lakers. But I think that their mental state has a lot more to do with their struggles than anything else.
It may sound too far-fetched, but I believe that their physical and mental bout with the Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals and their road back to the Finals to win the title against the Magic may have exhausted the Lakers. Combine that with how they feed off of Kobe Bryant's intensity and production on the floor (which is practically here and there) and we've got ourselves a Laker team that is (hard to say) ripe for the pickins.
Just the body language and vacancy of their faces even before Games 3 & 4 ended say a lot about how the Lakers are in this series.
Concerned and bewildered.
Not even Bryant is wearing that "Black Mamba" scowl we grew to love in the Finals last year. It may be a little harder to see it, but even Phil Jackson has that unfamiliar brooding look in his eyes.
But the Lakers had gone through so many this season. Injuries, fatigue, contract issues, unsuccessful trades, harsh criticisms, and (above all) the pressure of doing it again this year. Yet, they still managed to win the west for the third consecutive seasons.
Of course, that means jack if they don't repeat. But considering what this season has given them, I don't think any other team could have accomplished what they did.
So how are the Thunder having such an easy time getting things done at their expense?
Well the biggest reason I've noticed is that the Thunder absolutely has zero ego. Each player does not care how many points he makes or how many points the man he's guarding makes. They're all blue collar workers that's concerned about one thing.
That's how the Lakers will need to do to start competing with the young Thunder. They have to ignore the bumps and bruises. Ignore the fatigue. Ignore the "Beat L.A." chants. Ignore everything else but that little voice that says, "I know I could do better."
The Lakers have to learn to hate losing again. And I mean really hate losing. By now, they should be sick in the pits of their stomach to even try to think of what to say to the media about what happened.
I know I'm beyond tired of hearing their excuses.
I'm quite sure they don't want to hear another thing about how they look old or how they're too slow to keep up with the Thunder. But we all know there's only one way to keep all that from happening.
So how about it Lakers?
Game 5 on Tuesday is just around the corner. Are you going to let these kids continue to run all over you or are you going to finally put your foot down and say enough's enough?!
You know what they say...action speaks louder than words.
Right about now, most of us Laker fans thought that this series was either a wrap for the Lakers (2-2) or have a commanding 3-1 lead heading back to Los Angeles. I guess someone forgot to send the memo to the Oklahoma City Thunder (2-2) who took it to the defending champs in every way possible.
Maybe this is why Phil Jackson would rather face any of the other 6 teams in the west than this young team that plays like gangbusters. They are selfless. They play for one another. And most of all, they are fearless.
I thought before that they're confidence was premature and natural for such a young team blinded by their success heading into the playoffs. Well, they're proving me wrong every game so far. This team just doesn't know the meaning of "quit."
I know I wasn't alone when I said that the Lakers will bounce back after the loss in Game 3 because they almost often do. But I don't think even the Thunder could have predicted the way they manhandled the Lakers. It was U-G-L-Y from the get-go.
Fortunately for the Lakers, OKC will have to beat them two more times to advance to the second round. Then again, the Lakers will also have to do the same thing to move on. From what I've seen the past couple of games, that is becoming more and more of an impossible mission.
The Lakers started out with their gameplan of utilizing their two 7-footers in the post down to a T. So much so that even Kobe Bryant didn't put up a shot until well into the second quarter. Not sure if that's part of the plan or if it was just a coy to save Kobe's energy and legs in the second half, but it probably hurt Bryant's shooting later in the game.
Assistant coach Jim Cleamons pointed out before the game that the Lakers need to slow or stop OKC's transition game. It's been their greatest challenge so far, but it doesn't look like the Lakers are making any progress. Second chance points help prevent the Lakers from gaining any momentum or chip away at the big Thunder lead also. Too many guys in purple and gold are just standing around waiting for the ball to land on their lap instead of going after it or finding the nearest body to box out.
Perimeter shooting was, again, another factor for the loss. But aside from Kobe (whose finger clearly is still bothering him), there's Derek Fisher and Ron Artest to rely on for some outside offense. As we all know, neither one even has a reliable stroke to begin with. And no, I won't even get into the bench's perimeter game.
In other words, the key to this series is Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. The problem is these guys are in a rely position meaning they need the perimeter guys to get them the ball in the post. But the Thunder has been doing a great job at making all entry passes very difficult for the offense the entire series.
Frankly, the plan of passing the ball around until something gives isn't working. Not with the kind of defense the Thunder are employing. I think the Laker bigs need to run down the court and start sealing their guys into position. Then, the ballhandlers will have to get them the ball as soon as possible much like what Shaq used to do.
Lamar Odom finally decided to show up with 12 points, but he was way too late for the party. You can't pick the game or team you want to play, Lamar. Get your head out of your you-know-what!
OKC's glaring weakness on defense is still their one-on-one coverage of either Pau or Andrew. The Lakers could have an easier time exploiting it if their perimeter game is doing its job. And who knows when (if ever) they'll start shooting at a good percentage?
This is going to be one long flight home for the Lakers. Lots to digest. Lots to think about. Lots of things to iron out for Game 5. Like it or not, that game will be the deciding point of this series. I just have a feeling that whoever wins the next game will take this series regardless if it goes to Game 7 or not.
The defending champs had taken their first blow from the 8th seeded Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2) to make this a 2-1 affair for the Lakers (2-1) heading to tonight's key Game 4. There's no doubt this is a HUGE game for both teams that has the gravity to change the tide of this series.
If the Lakers win, they take a commanding lead of the series and an overwhelming momentum back to Los Angeles. They lose then the Thunder will have the confidence in the world of taking this series from the purple and gold regardless if the Lakers have homecourt advantage or not.
I'm not saying they'll win the series for sure, but OKC does not doubt itself even when they're behind 10-0 in the opening quarter. This team is remarkably mature for being the youngest team in the NBA.
All the pressure of winning this series have always been on the Lakers because not only are they the defending champs but they're supposed to have thousands of playoff game experience advantage over the Thunder. So far, the youth and athleticism of the Thunder are giving them fits.
Some may argue that OKC have one of the best defense in the league. But the Lakers are more than capable of playing championship-level defense AND offense when they put forth the effort and focus. However, that hasn't been the case when things turn ugly for them. So far, they've been allowing the Thunder take control of the game a little too much and shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers and defensive breakdowns aren't making things easier for them.
This is the playoffs. Every team is playing for all the marbles. Of course, the Thunder will do their best to make a name for themselves and leave a mark in these playoffs.
The Lakers must come out in Game 4 proving that the championship still goes through Los Angeles.
All year long we've been talking about Kobe Bryant's leadership role in this team. Well, it's time for him to take full responsibility of that role by talking to his teammates in practice and during the course of the game. He has to understand that he isn't 100% and needs his teammates more than ever to help them win ballgames. He also has to make his teammates understand what's needed to be done in situations when the Thunder is playing super-aggressive defense.
But this is not all on #24. Phil Jackson has to be a little more creative with his substitution pattern. He has to try to give Shannon Brown more minutes in defending Russell Westbrook. You don't need to be blind to see that Derek Fisher is way over-matched against him. Fish doesn't have the speed nor the athleticism to do much of anything against Westbrook. I thought that he'll be able to use his strength and experience over him, but even that doesn't seem to be enough.
PJ should also substitute fresher bodies more often but be mindful of when the current 5 on the floor is starting to lose control of the game to put his starters back out there. I also don't understand why he doesn't put DJ Mbenga in and push Lamar at the 3 against Kevin Durant instead of Kobe. Maybe that will help wake him up. Who knows? Maybe Lamar's length will bother Durant.
Bryant is too concerned about re-injuring his finger. That's why he hasn't been giving his all on D.
But the most important things for the Lakers to do in Game 4 and the rest of the series is to limit turnovers, trust the offense more, and keep that focus and energy for 48 minutes. Being more physical and giving hard fouls to Westbrook or anybody driving in the paint should also help control things for the Lakers. I'm getting tired of seeing Westbrook swoop down the lane without so much as a scratch on him when he comes out. A couple of hard landings should make him think twice about coming in.
The Thunder kept themselves in the game and won Game 3 because the Lakers could not handle the ball and could not defend other guys like James Harden and Jeff Green.
Yes, Kobe needs to defend better. Much of his focus is making adjustments on offense. Well what about defense? He doesn't really try to cover anyone that doesn't have #35 on their jerseys. A few key times he allowed Thabo Sefolosha and Harden an open three-pointer that found the bottom of the net. He has to start respecting those guys.
A spark can come from anywhere and has caused a major wildfire for the Thunder as we saw the past 3 games.
It's time for the Lakers to start their own inferno!
Other Notes: Kobe surpassed Jerry West (4,457 points) to become the Lakers' all-time leading scorer in the playoffs as well as the NBA's 5th leading scorer NBA playoff history. Bryant averages 25.1 points per game in the post-season. Karl Malone (4,761) is up next for Kobe.
Kobe just keeps breaking records isn't he? Hopefully, he breaks Shaq's record of 4 NBA titles this coming June.
OKC's Ford Center set a new NBA record for the noisiest arena ever by hitting 109 decibels in Game 3. Sacramento's Arco Arena held the previous record of 102 decibels.
Impressive but not surprising. I mean what else is there to do in Oklahoma City (or Sacramento)?
Here's a video of Laker assistant coach Jim Cleamons (who is in charge of scouting the Thunder) detailing what type of adjustments the Lakers will have for Game 4:
A thunderstorm fell over Laker Land on Thursday, and the Lakers (2-1) could not muster enough lightning of their own to dispell the Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2) from winning their first playoff game in "Loud City" against our defending champs 101-96. Yup, that's what they are now calling Ford Center. It's a fitting name considering the deafening noise they made for their Thunder when the team took over the game in the 4th quarter and never looked back.
Much of the blame is focused on Kobe Bryant (24 points, 8 assists, 2 steals) because of his unshakeable competitiveness to challenge the young, rising star Kevin Durant (29 points, 19 rebounds) rather than play team-ball in the final quarter. "Coach of the Year" Scott Brooks put Durant on Bryant and paid dividends for his team. Durant's length clearly bothered Kobe, but Bryant became way too comfortable striking from a distance, which echoed Phil Jackson's recent message to Bryant of "shoot better or shoot less." Kobe eventually started looking for his teammates, but it was too late. All of the momentum has shifted to OKC's favor and for good.
But basketball is a team sport. Bryant didn't do anything that he hasn't done before that we've always berated him for when the Lakers win. Durant started the game shooting a woeful 1-9 but realized he could help his team in other areas. He did by rebounding the ball (led the game with 19) and playing good defense.
So why couldn't the rest of the Lakers do the same to help themselves win?
Taking over games is Kobe's instinct more than a conscious decision. His teammates know this. Bryant will facilitate if his teammates convince him to do so by telling him during timeouts and by simply demanding for the ball on the inside. But no one was eager enough to ask for the ball or willing to help out on defense or on the boards.
Lamar Odom sure is enjoying himself as a spectator in all 3 games of this first round. 8 points and 6 rebounds will not do it in the playoffs, let alone against a team that attacks the rim and the boards as often and as hard as this Thunder team. He was the X factor last season and that role still hasn't changed one bit.
Ron Artest and Bryant should have a good talk with him to somehow fire him up. No, wake him up.
Speaking of someone who needed to step up. James Harden, I thought, was the real key to this Thunder victory. He was absent in the first two games, but surprised everyone with his 18 points in Game 3. Harden was the one who carried OKC when both Durant and Westbrook were firing blanks in the first half.
My keys for the Lakers to win this game was energy and defense. They started with both en route to a 10-0 lead to start the 1st quarter, but the Thunder is too resilient of a team to just go out quietly. Fighting back was expected of them, but I didn't think the Lakers will allow them to get the lead back and for good.
Not running enough of the Triangle, a few breakdowns on defense, and turnovers are still the usual suspects for the Lakers. Yet, they still had a good chance of winning Game 3 down the stretch but simply just could not get the job done. Give credit to the Thunder defense for that.
This is certainly not the first time the Lakers lose a Game 3 when they've taken the first two. But a few things need to be cleared up heading up to Game 4 on Saturday. I've no doubt they'll bounce back with a different mindset and with a few tune-ups.
They should because the Thunder has their attention now.
I meant to write this post before his tribute but could not get the right video clip to headline it until now:
He may have left us 8 years ago, but Francis Dayle "Chick" Hearn will be forever in our hearts. Earvin "Magic" Johnson may have made me a follower since the early 80s, but Chick is the one who turned me into the die-hard Laker fan I am today. The man is a rare gem in sports and truly is a legend.
Chick spent his childhood in Aurora, Illinois where he went to college at Bradley University. As an amateur basketball player, this is where he got his nickname when his teammates played a prank on him by putting a dead chicken in a shoebox he was given. His TV/broadcasting career spanned from hosting "Bowling for Dollars" on KTLA to calling games for UNLV's Runnin' Rebels from 1986 to 1990 on top of being the voice of the Lakers, of course.
In 1986, Chick got his star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and he became just the third announcer to be inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991. West 11th St. (between Figueroa and Georgia) and the Metrolink Blueline station near Staples Center were renamed Chick Hearn Court and Pico-Chick Hearn Station in his honor.
But on Aug. 2, 2002, Chick suffered a serious head injury from a fall and died three days later. He was buried next to his son Gary and daughter Samantha at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. He left behind his beloved wife Marge, whom he married in 1938.
Chick called 3,338 straight Laker games before a cardiac bypass surgery ended that streak in the 2001-02 season. Fittingly, he called his last Laker game in Game 4 of the 2002 NBA Finals when the Lakers swept the New Jersey Nets to capture their third straight NBA championship.
Most of the phrases used by broadcasters even today originated from a very long list of "Chick-isms". Come to think of it, many have imitated him but could never duplicate the way he called games with such picturesque quality. You don't need a television to know what's going on everywhere on the court when you listen to Chick. Watching Laker games will never, ever be the same without him.
One thing I don't understand (and still bothers me to this day is): How did Oscar De La Hoya get a bronze statue in front of Staples Center BEFORE Chick? (He fought there once and LOST!)
Game 3 will be the Lakers' (2-0) first true test. They did their job protecting homecourt advantage the first two games. But can they win a playoff game on the road? We'll find out today.
Kevin Durant learned in Game 2 that close is far from getting the job done in the playoffs. But he and his Oklahoma City Thunder (0-2) have two chances of bringing this series back to square one. They're hoping that Ford Center will bring the much-needed pick-me-up energy they need to get their first scratch against the defending champs.
One problem though: the Lakers have been there so many times before inside more hostile arenas.
But the Lakers almost gave away Game 2 because of turnovers and key poor shot selections on offense. Ron Artest had most of the share. I just don't understand why he preferred on taking his shots from behind the three-point line regardless if he was making them or not. He needs to operate closer to the basket and try to get Durant (or any other defender) bite on pump fakes. Three of his deep layup attempts were rejected because he probably didn't think the Thunder defenders will get to the ball.
However if I had to pick one guy who needs to step up more, I'd say none other than Lamar Odom. What ever happened to the guy who kept saying what the team needs and needs to do more of? Well Lamar, you're part of the problem now. I know he hasn't been getting the calls in his favor whenever he attacks the rim, but he has to understand that his effort and production is far more vital than the number of times he can get himself to the line.
Don't get me wrong. Free-throws win games as well. But the Lakers need his rebounding and ability to take the ball from one hoop to the other. About the only guy who can really stay with him speed-wise is Jeff Green, but Lamar is longer than he is.
Andrew Bynum needs to do a lot more on the road. Yes, he only has two games under his belt since returning from missing 13. But this is the playoffs. This is when he earns that fat paycheck of his.
The keys for the Lakers are: ENERGY and DEFENSE. Rebounding, sharing the ball, and limiting turnovers are important too. But I just don't think they can dominate or keep up with the Thunder if they come out flat and don't defend at least as much as they did in Games 1 & 2. Actually, they have to be more physical and be more adamant about challenging shots. And I don't mean just putting their hands up right when they're right under the rim.
They have to expect that OKC will come out swinging from the get-go and will use every bit of their speed and youth to take control of the game. But if the Thunder fail to hold down the Lakers, then they might as well book that fishing boat now.
Three hours before tip-off, a tribute to Laker legend announcer Chick Hearn was held. Then the day ended marveling at a future Laker legend leading his team to a nail-biter of a second game of their first round matchup with the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder (0-2) — a team you can't help but admire for their maturity and grit going up against our defending champs.
As a basketball fan, the young Thunder is impressing more each time I see them play. Who knows, if they had anywhere close to a playoff experience as the Lakers maybe they'll be the ones up 2-0. This team truly plays for one another and has the heart that even some veteran teams could never muster on their best days.
But the Lakers, a team still suffering from some of their issues, showed why championship teams should never ever be counted out. They may look old at times and seems like they're about to have a meltdown. But they certainly exhausted the Thunder both physically and mentally. Did you see the look on Durant's face as the 4th quarter buzzer sounded?
Much has been paid attention to Lebron James and Kevin Durant this season. But Kobe Bryant reminded everybody why he is STILL the baddest of them all. The guy is playing on his last wheel but could still deliver when his team need him most. It isn't exactly experience that's allowing him to do all of this. Kobe is just more hungry than anyone out there on the floor.
That is how he's going to lead the Lakers through the road to a repeat this post-season — push not only himself but his teammates to pour in everything they have in the tank no matter what.
The Thunder may play more pumped for Game 3, but I don't think they can play any better than they did in Game 2. As long as the Lakers give a steady diet of solid defense and attack them from the inside-out. There's no way OKC can maintain the energy and mental fortitude to overcome the Lakers to win.
That said, Games 3 & 4 will be a heck of a dogfight!
There were tons of reactions from both teams, Laker fans, and the media regarding the outcome of Game 1 and how the series will eventually conclude after just a few hours of the Lakers (1-0) taking the first game of the opening round. One interesting story (or an interview in this case) was that of Kevin Durant after the game. He sounded like Ron Artest has gotten to him but denies the reason for missing some wide open shots as a product of seeing the ball miss the mark time and time again because of Artest's defense. But Ron was gracious enough to say that he didn't entriely shut down Durant.
While it's true Durant managed to score 24 points, he needed 24 shots to get those points as well. In any case, that is good defense by Ron in my book. We'll see how Durant plays in Game 2.
But the one guy that did damage to the Lakers was Russell Westbrook. He's too quick and too athletic for Derek Fisher (and a host of Laker defenders) to contain. However, that doesn't mean the Lakers can't do anything about him. The Lakers will have to put bigger bodies in front of him when he attacks and challenge his shots. Each time he got to the rack in Game 1 not one defender even attempted to even change his shots. Raised arms simply will not do the job.
One thing the Thunder did well in the fourth quarter was prevent the Laker offense from getting the ball to their post players. That was one of the reason why they kept the game in single digits in that quarter. The Lakers will have to expect that kind of defense from the get-go. So they have to be a little more creative with their dish inside in Game 2.
Andrew Bynum had a monster of a game in his first game back after his ankle injury. But he has to continue to provide the inside presence on both baskets and rebounding for the Lakers to maintain their dominance in the paint.
The Laker bench had a solid outing in Game 1 providing good minutes for Phil Jackson. I liked the patience on offense and the energy on defense they showed. They have to keep at it and should never be satisfied with their work.
Game 2 is a must-win for the Lakers because not only will they take command of the series, they'll also bring a huge momentum heading over to Oklahoma City for Games 3 & 4. If they do, then they'll put more doubts and frustrations in this young Thunder team. But expect OKC to play with a sense of urgency on Tuesday. So the Lakers must work even harder.
Injury Update: DJ Mbenga joined the team in practice to shoot some free-throws in street clothes. Mbenga had his eye elbowed during last Thursday's practice and suffered a retinal hole. He had laser surgery on Saturday but could not play in Game 1. He'll be re-evaulated on Tuesday to see if he can play that night for Game 2. Here is Mbenga's quick interview in practice:
The first game of the first round has the Lakers (1-0) drawing first blood against the young but impressive Oklahoma City Thunder (0-1) that showed a lot of poise against the defending champs. As expected, Ron Artest (7 points, 1 steal) made life miserable for Kevin Durant (24 points, 7-24 shooting), and Russell Westbrook (23 points, 8 assists) did his damage against Derek Fisher (11 points, 3-6 three-pointers). Actually without at least half of Westbrook's 23 points, this may have been a laugher for the Lakers. But Westbrook made it clear something has to be done about him from here on in.
I would like to see Phil Jackson give Westbrook a lot of different looks defensively by utilizing Shannon Brown (5 points) more to matchup with his strength and athleticism. Brown certainly provides both and is the bulkier of the two, but he doesn't have the defensive awareness that Fish has. Still, allowing Fish to chase down Westbrook full-time may not bode well for the Lakers down the road.
Andrew Bynum (13 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks) showed us Laker fans what the team has been missing for 13 games in the first quarter alone. His inside presence at both sides of the court just gives the purple and gold a HUGE part of the puzzle. Aside from a little fatigue, Bynum looked good!
As for Kobe Bryant (21 points, 6-19 shooting, 2 blocks), he looked rested but is still having a little trouble with his shots and free-throws. The Lakers and us fans will have to accept that Kobe will probably won't shoot a percentage that he wants to or needs to for the rest of the playoffs. All we can hope is he never re-injures his finger or his knees.
But the gameball goes to Artest. His stifling defense on Durant probably was the difference. Much of the mindgames between Phil and Kevin has been well documented by both the media and Laker fans. But I didn't really see any of it affecting Durant at all. Ron pretty much took away all of his comfort zone, which is mainly the perimeter game. Durant may be 6' 9", but he has no real post-up game. The way Artest just positions himself on his shooting hand and forces him to go around his wide body to even get a decent look at the rim are simply brilliant.
In fact, the way the Lakers played defense the entire game was something to behold. They were active, smart, supportive, and crisp in their rotation. They will have to continue with this kind of effort for every single game, but especially when they head on over to OKC for Games 3 & 4.
Offensively, the Lakers went to their bigs until the Thunder adjusted. From there, it was screen-and-rolls for Kobe and Pau Gasol (19 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks)/Lamar Odom (7 points, 6 rebounds) with Bryant either taking it himself to the rack or throwing it back out to their shooters. Unfortunately, some of the big ones went to Ron who continue to struggle with his shots. I would like to see him dive to the basket when the ball is in the post to make Durant spend a little more energy on defense. Artest is just too strong for Durant to keep him from scoring deep in the post.
Expect a more aggressive Durant for Game 2 and don't be surprised if he operates in the post more just to get him closer to the hoop. Westbrook will still attack the basket until the Lakers put a damper or a stop to it. But the guy to keep an eye out for is Jeff Green (10 points, 4-12 shooting). He didn't do much in Game 1, but I don't expect that to happen again for Game 2. He can shoot anywhere and isn't too shabby in the paint. The Thunder will try to get him going early, so Pau will have to be willing to work on defense on Tuesday.