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Five things to take from Lakers' 114-106 win over Oklahoma City

April 22, 2012|By Mark Medina
  • Lakers big men Pau Gasol (16) and Jordan Hill (27) battle Thunder center Kendrick Perkins for rebounding position during their game Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.
Lakers big men Pau Gasol (16) and Jordan Hill (27) battle Thunder center… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

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Some things to take from the Lakers' 114-106 double-overtime win Sunday over the Oklahoma City Thunder

1. The Lakers made a great comeback effort. After trailing by 17 points, the Lakers suddenly took command and forced overtime. How did this happen? They kept Andrew Bynum off the floor after he showed minimal effort in the first three quarters. Kobe Bryant hit two late three-pointers. And role players, such as Jordan Hill, Devin Ebanks and Steve Blake, made hustle points.

The Lakers secured the game in double overtime, thanks to some clutch plays. Bryant made a Dirk Nowitzki-like step-back jumper that gave the Lakers a 104-102 lead with 1:45 remaining. He then followed through with a baseline jumper over Thabo Sefolosha for a 106-104 lead with 52 seconds left. Ebanks then forced a steal that set up Bryant's free throws that extended the gap to 108-104 at the :36 mark. Ebanks then grabbed another steal and made two free throws to secure the win.

PHOTOS: Lakers vs. Thunder

The Lakers couldn't finish it in the first overtime. After Bryant's runner hit back iron, the Lakers kept the same intensity in overtime. Pau Gasol nailed an open 19-footer, giving the Lakers a 93-91 lead with 4:24 remaining. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook shot a combined one for five in extra regulation. And Hill grabbed a key rebound off Gasol's missed three-pointer to set up Bryant's potential game-winner. But his runner hit off the back iron. Fortunately for the Lakers, Westbrook's off-balance three-pointer also fell short.

As ugly as this game was at the beginning, how they finished should build plenty of confidence heading into the postseason. It also gives the Lakers a good chance to secure the No. 3 seeding.

2. Metta World Peace will probably draw a suspension.  In utter euphoria, World Peace swung out his arms as he pounded his chest after throwing down his third dunk of the season. Then out of nowhere, World Peace swung his left arm and hit James Harden in the ear. The incident with 1:37 remaining in the first half sparked all types of reactions. World Peace stood in a boxing stance. Durant rushed at World Peace. And the fans at Staples Center wonder how exactly the play happened.

Seeing it live, it appeared that World Peace's elbow was nothing but an accident. Maybe he was too giddy over his dunk to realize Harden was there. Maybe he didn't realize how far out he was swinging his arms. Maybe he didn't know his own strength. The replays show otherwise. Harden stepped into him. World Peace backed into him and cocked back his arm with full strength.

This is a severe blow to the Lakers and it's completely indefensible. Just as World Peace was stringing together solid offensive and defensive performances, it's likely the NBA will give him a significant suspension even eating into the first round of the NBA playoffs.

Fans and teammates initially came to his defense because they didn't see the replay. But once they did, there's no sugarcoating the fact that World Peace's actions were inexcusable. The intentions don't matter. The actions do. That's why it shouldn't be surprising World Peace will probably draw a five-game suspension.

3. Bynum's effort was atrocious. With how little margin of error the Lakers have in matching the Thunder's speed, they had to outwork them. But when your star center isn't hustling for rebounds or showing aggressiveness in the post, how are the Lakers going to have any chance to win? Easy. Bench him for the last quarter and both overtimes.

With how much the Lakers offense centers on Bynum, there's no excuse for Bynum to finish with 10 points on five-for-15 shooting and eight rebounds. This episode marks the latest highlighting Bynum's immaturity. His poor game had nothing to do with the frontline not getting enough touches. It had everything to do with poor post presence, minimal off-ball movement and little effort.

4. Bryant guarded Westbrook well. He had seen enough. Westbrook lit up Derek Fisher when he was a member of the Lakers. Then he did the same thing with Ramon Sessions. So, just as he did in the 2010 NBA playoffs, Bryant opted to guard Westbrook and limited him to 14 points on three-for-22 shooting. It'll be interesting to see whether Bryant adopts the same strategy in the playoffs in at least some games against top guards considering Sessions' struggles in containing them.

5. Hill was a pleasant surprise. Everyone except for Mike Brown scratched their heads over Hill entering the lineup to open the second quarter. He's only appeared in garbage time and has had limited practice. Even though he looked noticeably lost on certain offensive and defensive coverages, Hill made up for those weaknesses by just giving an honest effort.

His 14 points on six-for-11 shooting and career-high 15 rebounds mostly came off putbacks and open looks in the lane. He also made timely plays, including a rebound to set up Bryant's potential game-winner in overtime and contesting Westbrook's off-balance three-pointer that extended it into double overtime. I wouldn't be surprised if Hill earned more time in the rotation.

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Five things to take from Lakers' 114-106 win over Oklahoma City

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