Video Courtesy: NBA

FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs Thunder – 8/5/2020


After clinching the first seed in the Western Conference, the Lakers (51-16) looked sluggish in an ugly loss to the young sixth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder (42-25).


Los Angeles beat the Utah Jazz on Monday in a game that proved to be a battle and showed that they could bounce back after the tough loss to the defending champion Toronto Raptors. The victory over Utah clinched the top seed in the Western Conference throughout the playoffs for the first time since the 2009-10 season, the last time they won the NBA Finals.


Lakers vs Thunder
Photo Credit: NBA

Heading into this game with the Thunder, we were not quite sure how the Lakers would look as far as minutes and rotations go. With the top seed already locked in, there necessarily would not be a need for guys like LeBron James and Anthony Davis to play that much to rest for the playoffs. However, this bubble season is different because maybe the star players would like to play to continue getting back into the flow of things after not playing competitively for four months.

What we did not expect to see was the Lake Show come out struggling, looking slow and sluggish. After playing their most complete game since being in the bubble on Monday, the Lakers seemed like the furthest thing from complete on Wednesday in the 105-86 loss to Oklahoma City.

Los Angeles struggled to shoot from everywhere on the floor. They finished the first half shooting 15-44 (34.1%) from the field and 3-19 (15.8%) from the three. James had barely cracked double digits with 10 points on 3-9 (33%) shooting. By the end of the game, James was the only starter to finish in double figures with 19 points, along with grabbing 11 rebounds to complete the double-double. Coming off the bench, Dion Waiters had 14 points on 5-13 (38.4%) shooting. Kyle Kuzma scored 10 points, going 3-7 (42.8%) from the floor and 2-5 (40%) from behind the arc.


Lakers vs Thunder
Photo Credit: Silver and Screen Roll

I briefly mentioned in the preview article that Oklahoma City is a quick team and that the Lakers will need to have their transition defense in check to maintain the young opponents. Well, the Thunder looked like they were going 100 miles per hour compared to how the Lakers looked running up and down the court.

When it came to rebounding and other hustle plays, the Lakers just always seemed to be a step or two behind the Thunder. If nobody can seem to get the ball in the basket on offense, then everyone will appear to be discombobulated on passes and cuts when running plays as well, as was the case for Los Angeles.

Everything just seemed to not go their way against Oklahoma City, especially when Davis air-balled a hook shot from the elbow midway through the third quarter. Head coach Frank Vogel even tried to run a zone defense for a possession in the fourth quarter, but that did not last long after the Thunder quickly broke the zone and scored.


Davis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope both had minor injury scares in the third quarter, but both were able to return to the game.


While things were not going right for the Lakers, everything was falling on the other end for the Thunder. All five starters finished scoring in double figures for Oklahoma City. Veteran point guard Chris Paul led the way with 21 points, going 8-12 (66%) from the field. Danilo Gallinari poured in 19 points, along with grabbing seven rebounds. Big man Steven Adams contributed with 18 points and also seven rebounds.


Lakers vs Thunder
Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP

Now with being 2-2 in these seeding games, the Lakers will have to quickly look ahead to their next game against the Houston Rockets. Former MVPs James Harden and Russell Westbrook are looking to bounce back themselves after losing in a close one to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

Houston was red hot to start off in the bubble with impressive wins over the Dallas Mavericks (153-149 OT) and league-best Milwaukee Bucks (120-116). But they ran into another hot team right now in Portland, where they took a competitive 110-102 loss.

With the Thunder’s victory over the Lakers, they are now currently tied with the Rockets for fifth place in the Western Conference. Houston will still be without three-point specialist Eric Gordon, as he suffered a sprained ankle in one of the scrimmage games.

After suffering another blowout loss, it remains to be seen how Los Angeles will handle the rest of their seeding games. Will they rest their starters due to already clinching the top seed in the playoffs? Or will they continue to play them in hopes of getting the chemistry back up to where it needs to be for the postseason?



The Lakers play again tonight, Thursday, August 6, against the Houston Rockets. You can watch the game at 6pm on TNT or Spectrum SportsNet.

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Isaiah Torres

Twitter: Isaiah_Torres24

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