Friday, January 11, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Thunder 116, Lakers 101
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Lakers came into this season thinking they did enough in the summer to retool from their second-round loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder that a run back to the championship was in store.
Well, then. To quote Paul Simon, those were the days of miracle and wonder.
If the Lakers weren't aware of just how bad things have gotten for them this season, Friday was as rude of an awakening as any.
How it happened: Just like when the Lakers lost in Oklahoma City on Dec. 7 when they were outscored 41-25 in the second quarter, it was an atrocious effort in the second quarter that did them in Friday. Oklahoma City outscored L.A. 39-23 in the second quarter this time around, going 16-for-23 from the field, and it was never a game after that.
What it means: The teams that earned the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference over the last five full NBA seasons averaged about 48 wins to get there. For the Lakers to hit that mark, they'd have to go 33-13 the rest of the way. The conference is slightly down at the bottom this year, so let's say they just need 45 wins to make the playoffs. That would require them to go 30-16. Consider 16 the Lakers' magic number for the rest of the season. Keep a tally on your wall. Write a note on your fridge. Once L.A. adds 16 more losses to its record, this season is over. And considering the Lakers have now lost six straight, that 16 could come a whole lot quicker than you would think.
Hits:Antawn Jamison had 19 points and 10 rebounds off the bench and Earl Clark had 10 points and 10 rebounds while getting the start after his breakout game in San Antonio.
Misses: The Thunder shot 50.6 percent from the field with the Lakers' defense having no answer for Kevin Durant (42 points on 16-for-25 shooting) or Russell Westbrook (27 points on 10-for-21 shooting with 10 assists).
Stat of the night: L.A. has allowed its opponent to score 100 points or more in nine out of the last 11 games.
What's next: The Lakers host the 9-29 Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. If the Lakers lose that one we'll all have a new definition of what "rock bottom" truly means.