OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 14: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder celebrates a score in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 14, 2012 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Oklahoma City defeated Los Angeles 119-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Thunderstruck: OKC Dominates Lakers To Take Early Series Lead

What rust? The well-rested Thunder had their way with the visiting Lakers in Game 1, winning 119-90 without playing a single starter in the fourth quarter.

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Lakers Need To Make Major Adjustments To Stay Competitive Against Thunder

The Los Angeles Lakers looked absolutely awful against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first game of their second-round game in the NBA Playoffs. It's largely up in the air if that's going to change heading into Game 2 on Wednesday night, but there are some factors the Lakers should key in on according to the experts.

Putting it bluntly, Los Angeles didn't look particularly adept at doing anything in its loss in Oklahoma City. That could change with a couple of major adjustments, though -- and our friends at SB Nation's Silver Screen and Roll think they know what it'll take to even the series at one game apiece before the seven-game matchup heads to Hollywood.

Ben Rosales of Silver Screen and Roll noted that there are three things that the Lakers will need to fix in order to have a chance at victory on Wednesday night: offensive execution, defensive intensity and a better effort overall. Although teams generally need to do each of those to win games, Rosales goes into solid detail to describe what exactly the Lakers need to fix with each.

The most interesting points came when Rosales discussed the defensive effort:

Foremost among the items that need to be fixed is the Lakers' pick-and-roll defense. Westbrook may not consistently hit all those midrange jumpers off the dribble for the rest of the series, but either way, the Lakers need to trap him far harder before that even becomes an option. As your's truly and others noted before the series, Perkins and Serge Ibaka are not offensive powerhouses.


Finally, the Lakers need to take far better care of the defensive boards, as while Westbrook and Kevin Durant inevitably scoring is acceptable, the putbacks and easy points gotten by everyone else is not. It will be difficult for the Lakers to pull a game out even if they limit these kinds of opportunities because the Thunder are simply that much of an offensive powerhouse, but they certainly have no chance if they do not.

As the above blockquote points out, shutting down the Thunder's high-octane offense is certainly a tall task. If the Lakers are able to slow them down, however, it's not hard to believe that Kobe Bryant can go into hero mode and will Los Angeles to a win on the other end. Rosales touched on the things the Black Mamba will need to change from Game 1 in order for his team to be more successful on the offensive end.

For a brief spell in the first quarter, the ball movement looked solid. Bigs were throwing some sweet interior passes, shooters were being found, and the ball was being hammered towards the rim. All that eventually dissipated as the game went on and it's difficult to assign that completely to the Thunder.

Aside from Thabo Sefolosha's superb individual defense on Kobe Bryant, who did his share in stifling the overall flow by trying his utmost to crank difficult shots over Sefolosha. Indeed, the seminal moment of the game for Kobe was when he had Derek Fisher (!) on him in the high post and instead of blasting right past him towards the rim, he settled for a fadeaway shot that missed. That's unacceptable.

Whether or not the Lakers are able to adjust enough is anyone's guess, but at least now we've provided them with a blueprint that might help them head back to Los Angeles without their tail between their legs.

For more on the Lakers, visit Silver Screen And Roll and SB Nation Los Angeles. For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City.


NBA Playoffs: Thunder Fans Believe OKC Left Something In Tank Against Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers were simply throttled by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night in the first game of their second round series. While it's believed Kobe Bryant won't let his team get obliterated like that going forward, it was interesting to check out the reaction from the experts following the Game 1 no-show by Los Angeles.

SB Nation's Thunder blog, Welcome To Loud City, warned the Lakers in their recap that it seemed as though the Thunder actually left quite a bit in the tank -- meaning, if it's even possible, the second game of the series could end up even worse.

What Game 1 tells us though is that if OKC is focused in their task at hand, they will always have untapped advantages at their disposal. Westbrook clearly had more in the tank if it was needed. Durant played solid but did not have to play great. Serge Ibaka could have better output. James Harden, as solid as he was, did not shoot great either.

It is not so much that there is room for improvement, because it would be a bit haughty to proclaim that a 29-point win does not feed the basketball soul completely. What it does mean though is that when LA tries to adjust, the Thunder will have options to counter the Lakers' new strategies. OKC is in the lead, and now LA must chase.

In a shocking move, our friends over at Silver Screen and Roll -- SB Nation's blog dedicated to the Lakers -- basically agreed that Los Angeles likely won't have much to offer the Thunder this series. In fact, they're not even counting on a victory the next time out, but rather hoping Game 3 is a possible turning point back in Los Angeles.

Look, I could go on. Tonight was a calamity in every respect. I happen to think this Lakers team doesn't have the talent, the legs or the hunger to hang in this series, but many of you remain hopeful. That's cool. I'm wrong about this stuff all the time and I could be here. To me, the crucial game isn't Game 2 but Game 3 back at Staples. If the Lakers spring a shocking upset on Wednesday night, awesome, but I see their best bet as making a two-game stand back on their home court, turning it into a short series and hoping the pressure gets to the young Thunder. It's nice to dream, I suppose.

It's going to be interesting to watch as this series progresses, but if SB Nation colleague Andrew Sharp is correct and the Thunder finally are the mature team we've all been waiting for them to be, Bryant and the Lakers might see their window slammed shut rather quickly.

For more on the Lakers, visit Silver Screen And Roll and SB Nation Los Angeles. For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City.


The Thunder Are All Grown Up

The Thunder sent a message in Game 1 Monday night, and after a 29-point blowout, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers heard it loud and clear. So did the rest of the NBA.


Thunder Vs. Lakers, NBA Playoffs 2012 Game 1: Oklahoma City Beats Los Angeles By Final Score Of 119-90

On Monday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder hosted the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals series. The Thunder jumped out in front early and the game turned into a veritable romp as Oklahoma City took the first game by a final score of 119-90.

The Lakers were trailing by 15 points at halftime, but things only got worse from there. While Los Angeles needed nothing more than to regroup and use their experience to take control, they instead fell behind by 30 points by the end of the third quarter. It was never close the rest of the way.

Andrew Bynum put up a big double-double for the Lakers, finishing with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Kobe Bryant had 20 points in the game. Russell Westbrook led all scorers with 27 points and Kevin Durant was close behind with 25. James Harden came off the bench for the Thunder to put up 17 points.

For more on the Lakers, visit Silver Screen And Roll and SB Nation Los Angeles. For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City.

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Kendrick Perkins Injury: Thunder Center Will Play, No Minutes Restriction Vs. Lakers

Thunder center Kendrick Perkins, who injured his hip in Game 4 of Oklahoma City's first-round series, will play in Game 1 of their second-round series against the Lakers. Perkins played in just eight minutes of the close-out game against the Mavericks, but will not be limited Monday against Los Angeles.

Perkins started 65 games for the Thunder during the regular season and all four games in their first-round series against Dallas. In 26.8 minutes per game during the regular season, Perkins averaged 5.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

Game 1 of Oklahoma City's game against Los Angeles will tip off at 10:30 p.m. ET and can be seen on TNT.

For more on the Lakers, visit Silver Screen And Roll and SB Nation Los Angeles. For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City.


NBA Playoffs 2012: Thunder Vs. Lakers Game 1: Game Time, TV Schedule And More

The two teams start what could be an extremely dramatic second-round series on Monday.

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