I loved Ron Artest’s defense on Kevin Durant. I wasn’t worried about Kevin Durant going in to the series. He averaged 25 points against the Lakers this season (he had 24 on Sunday), which was 5 points off his normal average. Durant is such a prolific scorer, it’s not like you’re going to ever hold him to 8 points on 3 of 25 shooting from the field. The goal is to just make him work for his points and make sure that at the end of the game, he remembers very clearly who was marking him that night.
I think Kevin Durant is well aware that Ron Artest was guarding him yesterday, and I think Ron’s strength and size is going to weigh heavy on Durant as the series goes on. Sure, as noted by Durant himself, he missed a couple shots he normally makes–but at the end of the day, he was still 7-24 from the field and 1-8 from 3 pointers. Ron was making him settle for isolation jumpers a lot of the time (his least efficient shot). Ron’s active hands did allow Durant to pull his patented rip-through maneuver to draw cheap fouls, but I think any coach in the league would applaud Ron’s effort today.
Ron is going to be critical in this series and (Good Lord willing) in two weeks when the Nuggets probably come to town. It was a good start to the evaluation phase of “the Ron Artest Experiment.”
I wasn’t thrilled with Derek Fisher’s defense on Russell Westbrook. Look, everybody knew this was the match-up that didn’t favor the Lakers on the defensive end. For the first quarter, I thought Westbrook was going to get rookie jitters and refuse to show up, but unfortunately, that wasn’t meant to be. Westbrook finished with 23 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 steals. I’m sure Scott Brooks will demand that Westbrook force the issue more on their offensive end.
The Lakers will probably have to play Shannon Brown a little more to combat Westbrook’s athleticism and may even put Kobe on him (which they did for a little bit in the second half when Westbrook got rolling). But yea, Fisher got killed on defense, and that’s probably not the last time I’ll be saying that.