Last night, the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Oklahoma City Thunder. This was a game that many fans brushed aside, not expecting to get a result against the #3 seed in the Western Conference. A team that has boasted an elite defense for most of the season.
In the 1st quarter, the Lakers struggled to get going on both ends of the court, as we have seen on many occasions so far this season. With the Thunder outscoring the Lakers 39-27. As time progressed, the team grew into the game, erasing a 17-point deficit with exceptional ball movement enabling the Lakers to get good looks. Especially across the perimeter, where the purple and gold knocked down 47.5% from three. Kyle Kuzma tied his career-high with 7 three-pointers, whilst Lonzo Ball contributed with 4 of his own.
For most of the second half, the lead was constantly swinging from team to team. The Thunder hit a franchise-record 22 three-pointers on a night where the Lakers held strong going into the final stages. Before a controversial call on Lonzo Ball saw Russell Westbrook take the game to overtime from the free-throw line. Holding Oklahoma City to 2-13 shooting, the Lakers secured the win outscoring the Thunder 16-6 in overtime, for a 138-128 victory.
It certainly was an excellent all-around performance, everyone stepped up and delivered. There was plenty of fight and energy on show, which is expected from anyone wearing the famous purple and gold. Kyle Kuzma again had a tremendous shooting night, on his way to record 32 points.
Kuzma’s wider game was on show once again as he filled the stats sheet with 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. Knocking down 7 three-pointers, Kuzma shot 55% from the field to propel the team to victory. Without LeBron James, Kuzma has excelled, however he will be a crucial piece come James’ return as the team aims to make noise in the postseason.
Lonzo Ball had another solid night, aggressively driving the ball and dictating play throughout. Ball accumulated 18 points, 6 rebounds, 10 assists, and 1 steal in 33 minutes. Shooting 41% from the field, Ball hit some crucial shots down the stretch in this one to pull the Lakers away. Let’s hope he can keep this up as the tough task of the Houston Rockets awaits.
Last but not least, Ivica Zubac set a new career-high with 26 points on 12-14 shooting from the field (85.7%). Zubac recorded a double-double with 12 rebounds as he showed flashes of his potential. Something we have seen on numerous occasions as the season has progressed. The Croatian center may well be knocking on the door for a starting spot in Houston.
By Kwadwo ‘Kojo’ Larson (@kwadwo_l)