Even though the Los Angeles Lakers were on the second end of a road back-to-back and were coming off an overtime win, there was little doubt that they should have picked up a win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.
It looked like it was going to be a rout after the first quarter as the Lakers took a 22-point lead and eventually went up by as many as 26 in the second quarter. To Oklahoma City’s credit, they battled back and got within striking distance, but it was still hard to believe Los Angeles could fall behind at any point given how they looked.
However, the Lakers clearly got too comfortable and started settling offensively while the defensive effort all but evaporated, which allowed the Thunder to flip the game and actually take the lead. From that point on, things did not break in L.A.’s favor and surprisingly wound up losing, 123-115.
Blowing a 26-point is already enough to feel embarrassed, but the Lakers also made the bad kind of history in the loss, via ESPN:
The Lakers entered play with a 230-0 record (including playoffs) when leading by at least 25 points in a game over the last 25 seasons.
They led by 26 tonight, their largest blown lead over that span. pic.twitter.com/2fd5GdH5Dd
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 28, 2021
It was a team-wide letdown as the Lakers simply went away from what was working for them in the first half, namely driving to the basket and finding the bigs for lobs or kick-outs to shooters in the corners. The second half was telling in how Los Angeles approached the game as they were content settling for midrange jumpers and before they knew it, Oklahoma City had roared back and took all the momentum.
In the NBA, a game is never over until the final buzzer sounds but in this case, the Lakers played as though they had this contest already wrapped up. Hopefully it is a painful learning lesson to make sure they close out matchups properly, but at least they get a good opportunity to bounce back on Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Frank Vogel calls Kendrick Nunn’s absence ‘big’
On back-to-back sets, it is useful to have younger players who are able to withstand the rigors of multiple games in a short time frame. One player who was sorely missed against the Thunder was Kendrick Nunn and it validates head coach Frank Vogel’s recent point about his loss being big.
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