After another slow start that contributed to the Thunder trailing by as many as 14 midway through the fourth quarter, Russell Westbrook went on a tear to end the game, but unfortunately, the Thunder could not overcome the deficit. Oklahoma City did everything they could to mount a comeback in Los Angeles, but the Lakers proved to be too much they defeated the Thunder 109-111 at Staples Center.
Electric Finish for Russ Falls Short
Russell Westbrook proved once again why he is the favorite for league MVP as he almost single-handedly brought the Thunder back from the brink. With just over five minutes to play in the game and Oklahoma City down by twelve, Westbrook scored the Thunder’s next fifteen points to pull them within three of the Lakers. During the run, Russ shot 5/8, including 4/5 from three.
Unfortunately for Westbrook, his flurry of points was not enough to pull out the win in Los Angeles. Russ finished with 34 points on 13/30 from the field (4/9 from three) to go with 13 assists, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals. On the downside, Westbrook had 8 turnovers. While he has shown that he is capable of carrying the Thunder, Westbrook simply cannot get it all done on his own. In the end, the breakdown on the defensive end hurt the Thunder.
Defense Falters in the Clutch
The Thunder battled back from being down by 14 midway through the final period, but the defense simply could not get stops when necessary. With 13 seconds to play, the Lakers managed to run a well-designed play, and Nick Young got a wide open look at the basket (after he traveled) for the go-ahead three to win the game.
The Lakers came into the game touting one of the league’s most efficient offenses, and the Thunder defense struggled to get stops right out of the gate as Los Angeles managed to shoot 50.6% from the field, including a lights out 51.9% (14/27) from three. In the end, it was the defensive breakdown on the final defensive possession that cost them the game.
Steven Adams Scores New Career High
In a game where he was oddly quiet at times, Steven Adams managed to score a new career high with 20 points on 9/13 shooting from the field and 2/2 from the free throw line. Adams also grabbed six rebounds despite not getting a single one until 47 seconds left in the third quarter.
Despite not having much of an impact when it came to rebounding, Adams grabbed what was perhaps the biggest one of the night off a Russell Westbrook miss with 13 seconds to play, which he immediately laid in to put the Thunder up by one. Unfortunately, Nick Young’s three to win the game for the Lakers effectively took away Adams’s game-winner. Nevertheless, the Thunder will be in a very good position to win in the future if Steven Adams can continue to play at a high level like he did tonight.
2nd Night of Back-to-Back in Sacramento
Tomorrow night the Thunder take on the Kings in Sacramento for the second night of a late-tip back-to-back. Oklahoma and Sacramento tip-off at 9:30 PM CST. The game will be televised on FSOK, broadcast by WWLS the Sports Animal on 98.1 FM, and as always, you can follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter for live in-game updates.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.