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Oklahoma City's youth, movement are too much for Lakers in Game 1

Lakers look weary, slow and, yes, old in Western Conference semifinals opener as speedy, well-rested Thunder blows them out, 119-90. Andrew Bynum, Kobe Bryant each score 20 but little else goes right.

May 14, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan

OKLAHOMA CITY — Score one for youth. And speed. And rest. And fun.

The Oklahoma City Thunder couldn't have looked much better than it did during the 119-90 bruising it applied to the Lakers on Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

It was the opener of the Western Conference semifinals and the series could close quickly.

PHOTOS: Lakers vs. Thunder, Game 1

Most people picked the Lakers to lose Game1. Few picked them to be embarrassed.

They trailed by 35 in the third quarter, were blanked in fastbreak points (13-0) and somehow forced only four turnovers against a usually reckless team.

It was jarringly reminiscent of two other blunders in their recent playoff past: Their 36-point loss to Dallas last season and their 39-point loss to Boston in the 2008 NBA Finals.

"We've got beat bad before," Andrew Bynum said. "We've got to see exactly how they killed us and then try to correct it."

That's easy. The chief problems were the Lakers' point guard, power forward, reserves and defense. And that's just a short list.

Derek Fisher's presence in a Thunder jersey was a reminder the Lakers tried to upgrade the position by acquiring Ramon Sessions at the trade deadline.

Sessions had two points and three assists Monday. Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook had 27 points and nine assists.

Pau Gasol, the hero of Game 7 against Denver, fell back with 10 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes.

Bynum was the Lakers' only player to put up anything impressive, collecting 20 points and 14 rebounds.

Kobe Bryant also had 20 points but missed 11 of 18 shots. Neither he nor Bynum played in the fourth quarter.

"I've been through it before," Bryant said flatly. "I've been on the receiving end . . . [and] seen both sides of the equation. My experience is just to be patient."

It almost goes without saying that the Lakers' reserves were also outscored badly, 50-26.

"Those guys can score. They're fast, they're strong," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said beforehand. "We definitely have to play better defense in this round than what we did last round."

If surrendering 98 points through three quarters is considered good defense, the Lakers were just splendid.

They were already in trouble by halftime, trailing, 59-44. Then came the third quarter, the Thunder scoring 39 points and making 12 of 17 shots (70.6%).

Kevin Durant (25 points) found Westbrook for an alley-oop dunk, the reverse of what usually happens. On the next play, Westbrook dropped off a pass for Durant, who drilled a three-pointer.

Time out, Lakers. Exactly 1:19 had elapsed in the third quarter.

Then Thabo Sefolosha picked Bryant clean atop the three-point arc and went the other way for a dunk.

"There's no way we can give up [almost] 40 points in a quarter and expect to win a game," Gasol said. "We have to make a conscious effort in the defensive end on stopping them and play our kind of game, which is playing in the 90s."

The Lakers emptied their bench with 8:34 to play. They trailed, 104-72.

Devin Ebanks, of all people, kicked a chair after being ejected and whipped off his jersey as he disappeared under a tunnel toward the locker room with 2:18 to play. He had shoved Thunder guard Royal Ivey and was tossed for unsportsmanlike conduct.

With little else to do, Bynum and Gasol talked earnestly on the bench while watching the fourth quarter.

Bynum said it was about "offensively how we can be more effective down low. We've got an advantage there and we've got to get to it."

When the Lakers got belted here in February, 100-85, Bryant exchanged barbed words with Durant and Thunder guard James Harden toward the end of the game.

"Maybe one day they'll be able to sit at my lunch table," Bryant said at the time, laughing. "Right now we're at two different lunch tables, man. The conversation's pretty brief."

It's getting a little longer, game by game.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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