Kobe Bryant Falters Before the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Defense

After Wednesday night's Los Angeles Lakers implosion, losing 77-75 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kobe Bryant's "compliments" directed toward OKC's defense were backhanded to the point of biting. From the postgame presser, via Ben Golliver: 

They just made gambles and they just jumped in the passing lane. It's something we're not accustomed to seeing. It was just flat out risks defensively. Jumping in the passing lane in front of the ball. Durant did it and got a steal. Westbrook did it and caused a turnover. It was a little unconventional but we'll make our adjustments in Game 3.

"Gambles." "Flat-out risks." "Unconventional." 

None of that describes what happened on Bryant's bizarre pass to Kevin Durant with 1:50 left in the game. KD was just too long for such a low entry pass (I believe Pau Gasol was the target). He barely jumped in, snatching it for an easy transition dunk. 

Such a "gamble" description could, however, fit what occurred on the subsequent possession, when Russell Westbrook blurred into the path of a Steve Blake pass. Still, it isn't as though Blake would have made Westbrook pay with a drive from half court to the hoop. 

Let's get away from the final moments, though, because the others matter just as much. OKC smothered the Lakers for the second time in a row—to the tune of a .385 field-goal percentage and 2-of-15 from three. For all of the focus on Blake's three-point miss, Los Angeles had trouble scoring all game.  

In a way, this was by design. The Lakers pounded the ball inside, hoping to slow the game and stem the tide of Thunder transition opportunities. While this worked as an indirect defensive strategy, OKC's length and athleticism made it a miserable offensive plan.

Double-teams swarmed Andrew Bynum, causing the usually efficient big to shoot 42 percent with four turnovers. Serge Ibaka came racing into the paint, blocking seven shots....

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