What looked like an easy night of basketball turned into an absolute embarrassment as the Los Angeles Lakers inexplicably lost to the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Lakers were well on the way to blowing out the Thunder after racing out to a 41-19 lead after the first quarter, and despite some lackadaisical play in the second, still went into halftime up by 16. However, Oklahoma City turned the game on its head in the second half after Los Angeles took their foot off the gas pedal and started settling for jumpers.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey took turns dissecting the Laker defense and the Purple and Gold now find themselves trying to pick up the pieces at 2-3.
Kent Bazemore was a bright spot as he scored 11 points and went 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Bazemore has proven to be a quality corner 3-point shooter, shooting an impressive 42.9% from deep so far this season, and he discussed how important it is for him to hit those shots, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“We got some many guys that draw attention and I’m always over there posted. I called it parking lot pippin’ last year so nothing wrong with that again. Just letting it fly, getting your legs under you a little bit and knowing where your shots are coming from, shot preparation, all of those good things. We got a lot of guys that can fill it up and I’m sure over time, once we get to full strength there’s going to be even more.”
The offensive crux for L.A. is their ability to put pressure on the rim, so when defenses decide to pack the paint and wall it off it opens up perimeter shots for players like Bazemore. Against the Thunder, for example, whenever a Laker was able to penetrate the middle of the floor, they were able to laser passes to Bazemore in the corner.
While the outside shooting from Bazemore is encouraging, the truth of the matter is the team must be better defensively if they hope to avoid games like these. Fortunately, they return home to Staples Center to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.
Lakers expecting a lot from Russell Westbrook-LeBron James pick-and-roll
Aside from getting into the painted area, another way for Bazemore to get looks is whenever LeBron James and Russell Westbrook run pick-and-rolls with each other. Both are tremendous finishers at the basket, so when a defense decides to collapse onto them it makes it easier for them to find Bazemore spacing the floor. The Lakers are expecting a lot out of this action and it could very well be their best play.
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