Stay connected with SB Nation Follow @sbnation
Like us to subscribe
Russell Westbrook had 28 points and the Thunder eliminated the Lakers Monday night. And after years of doubts about his role in Oklahoma City, the kamikaze point guard is a better fit than ever.
The Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated earlier than expected in the second round of the NBA Playoffs and, as is customary, TNT's Craig Sager headed to the locker room Monday night for some exit interviews with the players.
Interviews conducted just minutes after a heart-breaking loss often lead to players not quite thinking clearly, and that's what we'll blame for the answer Lakers center Andrew Bynum gave when Sager asked if he expects to sign a long-term contract.
"I'm not sure," he said. "It really doesn't matter to me. I'll play anywhere. I think for the most part I had a pretty decent season and then an OK postseason. Obviously this last game was the worst game I've probably played. It sucks, obviously, we're going fishing. My focus is next year and coming back stronger, adding things to my game."
The video and quotes, courtesy of CBS Sports' Eye on Basketball blog, are going to be interesting to Lakers fans, considering there have been numerous reports over the years that Bynum is all but untradeable -- showing a loyalty that might not go both ways.
Bynum decided to give a more PR-friendly answer to Sager's next question, however, being a bit more definitive.
"I definitely want to stay," he said. "You kind of asked an open-ended question. Obviously things are going to be different come next year. I'm going to be ready."
It will be interesting to see what happens this offseason as Bynum's $16.1 team option might not look all that appeasing when considering Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are already being paid nearly $47 million for the 2012-13 season.
A festive atmosphere in downtown Oklahoma City quickly turned violent Monday night when at least eight people were shot minutes after the Thunder defeated the Lakers in Game 5, according to police. Initial reports indicating only three victims proved to be too conservative. Two suspects are in custody.
The shootings occurred in Bricktown, an entertainment district just three blocks from Chesapeake Energy Arena. The streets were full of celebrating fans when the shooting occurred; in addition to the fans leaving the arena, thousands more had gathered to watch the game on a giant LED screen mounted on the side of the arena, part of the "Thunder Alley" block party hosted by the team.
From The Oklahoman:
"Preliminary reports indicate that eight people were shot and one person suffered blunt trauma, and that person was a pregnant woman," Oklahoma City police Capt. Dexter Nelson said.
"Everything is very, very preliminary. We still don't know the actual number of victims. We believe that one person is critical, and the other injuries are not believed to be life-threatening," Nelson said.
The Oklahoman reports that the pregnant woman is believed to have been kicked during the aftermath of the shootings. The team provided the following statement to the newspaper:
"It's unfortunate that it happened on a great night for Oklahoma City and the Thunder, but in our society those things happen," Oklahoma City Thunder spokesman Dan Mahoney said.
"It did not happen at the arena, at the game, at Thunder Alley," Mahoney said.
"We'll continue to work with law enforcement to provide a safe environment," he said.
The Oklahoma City Thunder's rousing Game 5 elimination of the L.A. Lakers at home was followed by multiple shootings, reports The Oklahoman. Multiple people were shot downtown near Chesapeake Energy Arena shortly after the Thunder ended the series Monday night, according to the newspaper. Two suspected shooters were reportedly in custody. The Oklahoman reports at least three wounded in the shooting, though the severity of any injuries remains unknown.
News9 reports that six shots were fired, and that there are two victims.
The Thunder are Oklahoma City's only major league team. There were no reported incidents when the Thunder advanced to the Western Conference Finals a year ago; OKC won a Game 7 at home to get there in 2011.
The reported site of the shooting is just a five-minute walk from the arena. The TNT broadcast showed the area outside of the arena teeming with Thunder fans watching the game on screens.
The Spurs and Thunder will meet for Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Western Conference Finals on Sunday.
We were among several to notice that Kobe Bryant, despite scoring a ton of points in Game 5 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, had zero assists. Brian Cardinal of the Dallas Mavericks noticed it too and fired off this beautiful tweet as the Lakers were on their way to losing the game and the series.
10 assists away from a double/double...— Brian Cardinal (@BrianCardinal) May 22, 2012
Bryant hasn't see this yet but, once he does, I imagine his reaction will be like this.
Cardinal's own team, of course, was swept by the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs. If this is how Cardinal grieves his team's loss, I hope his mourning period continues.
On Monday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder hosted the Los Angeles Lakers, knowing they would need just one more victory to advance to the Western Conference final. The Lakers were determined to try to prevent that from happening and did their best to stave off elimination but, in the end, the Thunder were too quick, too young and just too talented to be denied. The Thunder won Game 5 and clinched the series by a final score of 106-90.
The Lakers trailed for much of the game but managed to keep things close and even took a lead for a brief time in the third quarter, but the Thunder buckled down and began to pull away. They just added to their lead throughout the fourth quarter and, before long, the Lakers were on the losing end of a blowout.
Actually, this goes beyond agony. I'm worried for Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak's health after seeing this close-up from the TNT cameras.
It'll be OK, Mitch. Men At Work is starting soon.
Thirty shots, 40 points, 17 made field goals.
And zero assists.
Kobe Bryant received his typical rest to begin the fourth quarter with the L.A. Lakers trailing 83-77 in Game 5 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kobe was clearly L.A.'s best player all night long, really the only scorer keeping the Lakers in the game and putting pressure on OKC. He sat for the first 1 minutes, 49 seconds of the fourth.
And the Thunder took that opportunity to score eight straight and open up a 91-77 before Mike Brown put Kobe back in.
Kobe's re-entry wasn't a great salve -- the Lakers still trail by double digits moments later, with the game winding down -- but the damage had been done. For better or worse, the fortunes of the Lakers in this game relied solely on Kobe Bryant. And he sat on the bench while those fortunes were decided. Neither fate nor Kobe with a mic in his face will smile kindly on the two-minute lay-off.
The Thunder are up 16 with less than 10 minutes left, which means that, barring a crazy Lakers rally, we’re going to see a lot more faces like this from Kobe Bryant.
The game isn’t over yet, but it’s becoming clear that the Lakers, for all their tenacity and inside strength, are too stuck in the wrong era to defend the Thunder’s three perimeter threats effectively. To guard Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant, you need athletic wing defenders and mobile big men. The Lakers don’t have either right now.
The 2011-12 NBA season has seen plenty of absurd shots from tremendously talented players. This play by Russell Westbrook, though, has to top them all. With the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers tied at 70 midway through the third quarter of Game 5, Westbrook deflected a Ramon Sessions pass, got the steal and ... well, just watch the rest.
Sessions went over to wrap Westbrook up like any smart player, and Westbrook still powered through to bank home what essentially was a 15-foot layup.
This, of course, was followed by a typically outlandish Westbrook celebration. This is the same guy who did his gun holster move after hitting a three-pointer in Game 4 with his team down by double digits. You knew he was going to add a little extra flavor to his amazing shot.
Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant's reaction was ... yeah. This was predictable.
Forget the 30 points in two and a half quarters. Forget the fact that he’s keeping his Los Angeles Lakers in the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. No, this is the real sign that Kobe Bryant is having a vintage performance.
Dunks per game this season: 0.48.
Dunks in this game: 4.
… and Andrew Bynum already has four fouls.
So, things got a bit wild at the end of the first half of Game 5 between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Metta World Peace had spent most of the half throwing his weight around, so I guess you could say it was only a matter of time before something crazy happened. I guess this qualifies.
World Peace was back trying to defend a fast break against Thabo Sefolosha and delivered a hard foul that sent the slender Sefolosha falling back behind the baseline. It was a hard foul, but World Peace did have his hand on the ball, so it probably should have just been a two-shot foul.
Instead, the referees whistled him for a flagrant foul. Let's just say World Peace was not amused.
I won't tell you exactly what World Peace said, but the ending rhymed with "banana split." That should give you a pretty good idea.
World Peace does have a right to be upset. With most other players, that's not a flagrant foul. World Peace did extend the left arm, but referees would have cut, say, Kevin Durant some slack if he did that. At the end of the day, World Peace's reputation certainly worked against him.
Exhibit A: this face.
Exhibit B: rubbing James Harden's head.
Harden was predictably not amused by the latter.
Yup, this just happened. Pretty much sums up the kind of effort Andrew Bynum is giving on the defensive end.
That was Nazr Mohammed, by the way. Nazr. Mohammed.
If the NBA awarded extra points for degree of difficulty, Kobe Bryant would be the best NBA player of all time. Here he is adding to his bag of tricks with a lefty bank shot from 14 feet out.
Bryant was stuck without his dribble and had to manufacture that shot by bumping into Kevin Durant to create space. He ended up kissing it off the glass beautifully for his 13th point of the game. He's now 6-9 from the field for 15 points. Meanwhile, the rest of the Lakers are 1-10. The fourth quarter is going to be a lot of fun!
We've already seen the Andrew Bynum apathy face a couple times tonight.
You have to hand it to Ramon Sessions: he's trying to play his game. The Los Angeles Lakers' point guard, who has been dreadful all postseason, is making assertive moves to try to get points for himself. It hasn't worked out well so far -- Sessions has a missed three and two missed free throws -- but Mike Brown will take it, because at least Sessions is being aggressive.
The Lakers and Thunder will meet in Game 5 of their series Monday as the Thunder attempt to close out the series.