I don’t know about you, but I’m rather drained so far from the first three games of this wild series. I’ve got to admit though, it’s definitely a lot more exciting than last year’s dull five games against the Utah Jazz. As much as I’d love to go off on an infuriated verbal discourse about Game 3, the series will still stand at 2-1 and I will only rupture a blood vessel somewhere in my brain. In a game of two halves, the Lakers couldn’t quite get away with the mental lapses and anemic offensive execution as they did in the first two contests.
The series has definitely reached a tipping point. I could be wrong and I certainly hope that I am, but if we lose Game 4, I see this series easily going the full seven, which is something you never want to see occur, especially in the first round. In Games 1 and 2, the Lakers escaped with two wins largely due to the Thunder’s lack of playoff experience and Kobe’s fourth quarter brilliance in Game 2. However, as we saw in Game 3, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have more than gotten over their post-season jitters and executed flawlessly during the second half while Kobe completely bought into the matchup versus KD and took horrible shots without even looking twice at any teammates.
Only when the Mamba had already gone 1 of 7 in the final quarter and with the game in the balance, did he begin looking to make plays for other Laker players. In the first three games, Kobe has gone 28 of 76 from the field (37%), which is simply not going to get it done. It would be one thing if he was taking good shots and merely missing them due to his fractured finger or tired legs, but I was pretty shocked and frankly disappointed in his shot selection in the fourth quarter of Game 3. Knowing the competitive nature of the Mamba, it really felt like he was trying to out-duel Durant and win the game on his own – not exactly the most intelligent way to play down the stretch.
On the other side, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook look like players who are slowly but surely, figuring out how to make plays for themselves against our defense which can only provide the rest of the Thunder squad with positive results. Derek Fisher obviously just cannot stay anywhere in front of Westbrook and our bigs continue to fail in providing consistent weak-side and back-side help on the young stud’s dribble penetration, leading to easy layups or kick outs against us. While Durant himself has only shot 27 for 74 (36%), he is 26 of 30 from the stripe while Kobe has only attempted 27 free throws and shot none at all in Game 3. Looks like Phil Jackson’s comments prior to the series regarding KD had minimal effect on swaying the judgment of the referees.
NEXT: What needs to change?
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