Local Pro Sports

Thunder routed by shorthanded Lakers

Thunder routed by shorthanded Lakers

OKLAHOMA CITY- It was no homecoming for Russell Westbrook.

In fact, most of the star power was taken out of the game before tip-off.

With Lebron James, Anthony Davis and Danny Green all out with injuries, a wire-to-wire total team effort powered the Lakers past the Thunder 125-110.

Two nights after their most complete performance of the season, the Oklahoma City Thunder failed to match the energy of a shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers team.

“I don’t think we started the game the way we needed to,” Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said after the game.

“They jumped on us early, and they kind of set the tone for the rest of the game.”

The game turned out to be a mirror opposite of Oklahoma City’s rout of the Houston Rockets.

The Lakers were hot out of the gate, outpacing the Thunder 41-19 in the first quarter and never looking back.

“They just came out with a lot of energy,” Thunder guard Chris Paul said after the game.

After the poor first quarter, the Thunder did their best to recover, but the lead the Lakers built proved to be insurmountable.

In fact, the Thunder outscored the Lakers 91-84 after the first quarter.

With three starters out, there were extra shots aplenty to go around for the Lakers, and Kyle Kuzma took advantage.

“I’m sure their guys, with Lebron being out and Anthony Davis being out, probably relished an opportunity to play more minutes and maybe a bigger role and those guys stepped up,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said after the loss.

Kuzma dominated the Thunder, posting a season-high 36 points on 15-of-24 shooting. Kuzma was able to get any shot he wanted. He was efficient from all areas of the floor, converting 4-of-6 shots from deep.

“[Kuzma’s] always been a very good scorer,” Donovan said. “He’s had big scoring nights, this is not unusual for him.”

Rajon Rondo also torched the Thunder defense for a season-high, finishing with 21 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.

Defense had been the difference for Oklahoma City during their midseason turnaround, but it failed the Thunder against the Lakers.

“Give them credit, they shot the ball well,” Donovan said. “I just thought they were the aggressor tonight.”

“I think our guys were really trying, but there’s just some nights where it’s just kind of not your night, and I would say tonight was one of those nights.”

The Lakers finished the game shooting 51 percent from the field and 46 percent from three point range.

On the rare occasions a Laker did miss, they outworked the Thunder on the boards. Los Angeles finished with a 17 rebound advantage, including 12 offensive boards.

“I think almost half of their points in the first half were either on rebounds or transition and offensive rebounds,” Donovan said.

“Tonight we just didn’t really quite play at the level we had been playing at.”

Dennis Schröder and Gilgeous-Alexander both struggled shooting from the floor for the Thunder.

Schröder and Gilgeous-Alexander combined for a modest 37 points on 13-of-32 shooting from the floor.

Even in a loss, Chris Paul was able to post another efficient outing, scoring 16 points on 54 percent shooting.

The Thunder also continued their recent trend of playing well in the third quarter and the second half as a whole.

Gilgeous-Alexander said the team played with better effort out of the halftime break.

“I think we were just embarrassed,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “We knew what we needed to do going into the game to give ourselves a chance to win that we didn’t do in the first half.”

“We just tried to do it a little bit harder and a little bit more in the second half and it obviously wasn’t enough.”

The Oklahoma City Thunder won’t have much time to dwell on the loss, as they will now hit the road to face the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Thunder and the Timberwolves will tip-off at 7 p.m. on Monday night. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Oklahoma

Local Pro Sports

Ryan Chapman covers Oklahoma Athletics and the Oklahoma City Thunder for 107.7 The Franchise since 2019. In December of 2020, Chapman was named the Deputy Editor of Sports Illustrated Sooners, and he also is a contributor for Sports Illustrated Thunder. Chapman has previously worked for OCCC's Student Newspaper, The Pioneer, where Chapman covered the Oklahoma City Energy, the Oklahoma City Dodgers, Oklahoma Athletics and the Oklahoma City Thunder. During his time with The Pioneer, Chapman served as the Sports Editor as well as the Editor-in-Chief.

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