Oklahoma City native Xavier Henry was shown absolutely zero love by his hometown crowd. It’s not anything he did personally that turned the OKC crowd against him. It’s just that when you sign on the dotted line to play for one of the most hated teams in the OKC area, you basically render yourself “the enemy”. Who can blame him though? If you are presented with an opportunity to play for one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history, you’d be an idiot to turn it down.
So what is it about the Lakers that get the OKC crowd’s blood boiling? It comes down to simple luck of the draw.
Back in late April of 2010, the Thunder made their first playoff appearance of the OKC era. Since they were the 8th seed, however, they wound up drawing the 1st seeded Lakers in the first round. The Thunder actually fought valiantly, pushing the series to 6 games before a Pau Gasol tip-in in the final seconds of Game 6 effectively closed the door on the Thunder’s NBA Championship hopes. The OKC crowd just had their first taste of the postseason, and weren’t quite ready to see it end when Gasol finished the series. Needless to say, the Thunder fans still harbor feelings of ill will towards the Lakers franchise for that one tip-in. Well, that and the fact that Kobe Bryant’s attitude really seems to rub OKC fans the wrong way.
On the plus side, OKC fans had one hell of a Friday night. Is there a better way for an OKC fan to spend their Friday evening than to watch the Lakers get absolutely manhandled by the Thunder? If there is, someone needs to fill me in, because I’m obviously unaware of it.
Not only were the Lakers in a bit of a slump entering Chesapeake Energy Arena having lost their last 2 games, they were also playing short-handed, as Steve Blake was out with a torn ulnar collateral ligament. I doubt his presence would have helped. The Thunder dominated this game from start to finish.
It seemed to start okay for the Lakers. Even though the Thunder opened the game with a quick 3-ball, the Lakers answered with a 13-4 run that had brought the Laker lead to 6 (13-7) with 7:39 to play in the opening quarter. The problem for the Lakers was that once the Thunder tied the game at 13 less than a minute later, they would lose their lead for good.
The Lakers were outscored in every single quarter of last night’s contest. They were outscored by 10 (38-28) in the 1st quarter, and outscored by 5 in each of the subsequent quarters (28-23 in each of the last 3 quarters).
Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka notched impressive double-doubles last night (Westbrook: 19 pts, 12 assts. Ibaka: 19 pts, 10 rebs). Kevin Durant led all scorers to take the floor last night with 31 points, and Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb combined for 30 bench points (Jackson: 19 pts, Lamb: 11 pts).
Pau Gasol and Wesley Johnson were the only Laker starters who managed double digits in points (Gasol: 14 pts, Johnson: 13 pts). Oddly enough, the Lakers had two bench players who outscored those starters. Nick Young dropped 17 points, while Putnam City standout Xavier Henry posted 15. One thing that Henry can rest his hat on is the fact that he was the Lakers’ second leading scorer here in his hometown. Another surprise was that while Kobe Bryant did dish out 13 assists, he only managed a total of 4 points for the game. That marks only the sixth start in Kobe’s entire career where he managed 4 points or less. This marked the third game back for Bryant since his return from an Achilles injury that finished his season last year, and the Lakers are still winless in those games. If you ask me, that injury will be the one that derails Kobe’s career. I think he should retire after the season. It just doesn’t look like he has it anymore.
This was a very satisfying win for the Thunder. Now they turn their attention to the Orlando Magic team that’s hitting up Chesapeake Energy Arena for Sunday’s affair. Tip-off time is 6pm CST, and will be broadcast via Fox Sports Oklahoma, WWLS The Sports Animal, and NBA League Pass.