So, when does a 5 point lead, or an 8 point lead feel like a 15 point lead? Last night...
Sunday, the Clippers slowly climbed back into the game against the Thunder to eventually take the lead, for a moment. The game had that slipping, tight feel to it, and fortunately enough, the Thunder rose to the occasion.
Last night, however, (watching from the TV stands, mind you) Chesapeake Arena had an interesting feel to it...it wasn't quite the electric playoff atmosphere it has been lately, or escalates to after the All-Star break anticipating the playoffs.
It was, sort of like the crowd was just enjoying, the inevitable.
The Thunder don't like the Lakers, and since being bounced from the playoffs in their first post-season appearance, as the Thunder, they have dominated the series:
Through 2010 Playoffs: Thunder 3 -12 against the Lakers.
Since 2010 Playoffs: Thunder 10 - 5 against the Lakers.
That's why I say "inevitable", I think you truly have a snapshot of the older guard giving way to the new guard in this series. What a stark turn after the Thunder's first playoff appearance.
So, the mood in the arena last night didn't get the chippy feel that I thought could happen, with all the flagrants (MettaWP and Ibaka), technicals, and the fact that the Lakers are on life support for playoffs this year. It was more like the fans sat back and watched a monitored dismantling of the Lakers, and the score didn't seem to bother anyone when it was close.
Don't get me wrong, I was a bit worried when the geriatric duo of Fisher and Nash were out there and Nash was dropping shots in left and right...but, I still felt like we calmy weathered the storm and waited.
Put best by Royce Young from the DailyThunder.com, "Sometimes, it’s how you start and how you finish. The first six minutes tonight, the Lakers didn’t make a single basket. The last six minutes, the Lakers didn’t score a single point."
Start well, finish well, and what happened in between were a couple of silly technicals and Howard and Kobe feeling the bruises of their age.
I could draw more stats, but this win was a nice one, and it never really felt like the Lakers were in it, even when they were.
- Reggie: I'm still harping on the antithesis of Fisher's presence bothering Reggie. Reggie has been constantly improving, but with D-Fish on the floor, it's like he's channeling Russell from a couple of years ago...his confidence is just flowing. It's like he watches Russell, and says, "I can blow by everyone just like that"...then he does. He just seems a bit more aggressive of late, and honestly it might be a combination of Fisher's presence, and the fact that Westbrook told him he needs to attack more often. (what else would Russ say?)
- Thabo: Most of Kobe's points, from my naked eye and recollection came when Thabo was on the bench. I think Kobe sees Thabo come on the floor and his inner child starts to cry. Did you notice that after a toughly guarded possession (Thabo was picking him up at almost half court, staying glued to him)...Kobe generally took the next possession off, letting Nash run around and shoot. Thabo had 1 reb, 1 assist, 2 stls, 5 fls and 5 pts...another one of those nice intangible games where he won't get ESPN props, but Kobe's in the trainers office today licking his wounds.
- Serge: The block on Howard's dunk reverberated all the way back to L.A..."Howard will not get us where we need to go". Then just to top it off, Serge went straight back up and said "Dwight, if you don't mind, I'll block this other shot too, because you just weren't that hard"...ouch.
- Perk: At least you drew iron on most of the 5 shots you fired...and you made your freethrows.
- Russell: You missed KD a couple of times, and he let you know about it, but you played friggin awesome.
- KD: Catch and shoot gets you started off...and you need to go back to the Nowitzski school of awkward shooting because the fade-away hasn't been falling of late. Catch and shoot is instinctive, as is a two dribble pull up...maybe Kev's overthinking his post up moves.
- D Fish: 18 Minutes, 75% from the floor (3-4), 100% from 3, 100% from the line...we'll take that.
-Thabeet: 7 Minutes, 3 Offensive rebounds, a nice pick-n-roll dunk, an assist, and 2 good, good fouls...we stole 7 minutes of Beet-walking last night.
- Nick: Your life is more fulfilled when you take a charge.
- K-Mart: I think chickens might be starting to work, you were 3-11 from 3, but at least you made 3. You move so well without the ball, and look comfortable with it in your hands...just shoot your way out of it.
Next up: Knicks on Thursday.