One of the biggest problems for the Oklahoma City Thunder during the NBA regular season was turnovers. With the Thunder still being relatively young and inexperienced, turnovers were bound to be a problem in the team’s progress to be become one of the best squads in the league.
During the regular season, the Thunder averaged upwards of 16 turnovers a game. This was considered to be the team’s greatest flaw moving forward and something the Los Angeles Lakers needed to capitalize on in the NBA playoffs.
Coming into Game 2 of the second-round series with the Thunder, the Lakers had to figure out a way to slow down this team that has thrived on their youth and speed. One way to force turnovers against a faster team is taking charges.
Unfortunately, not many players on the Lakers’ current roster are willing or able to take charges unlike former Laker and current Thunder point guard Derek Fisher, who was a master at taking a charge.
Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant is one of the Lakers that doesn’t take charges. One of the reasons Kobe isn’t willing to sacrifice his body for a charge is the physical toll it can have over the course of an NBA career via Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com:
“I learned from my predecessors,” Bryant said. “[Scottie] Pippen had a [messed] up back taking charges. [Larry] Bird had a [messed] up back taking charges. I said, ‘I’m not taking charges.’ I figured that … out at an early age.”
In Game 2, the Lakers were able to find a way to limit the Thunder’s offensive production with a new defensive game plan. For the most part, the defensive change was successful and almost led to the Lakers bouncing back to even the series before heading to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the Lakers fell apart in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter and blew an opportunity to get back into this series.
Defense will definitely be the key to defeating the Thunder from here on out for the Lakers. It will be a challenge to even up the series with two wins at the Staples Center in Game 3 and Game 4, but Game 2 was an indication that Los Angeles can win with the right mindset on both ends of the floor.