LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night snapped a two-game losing streak topping the Oklahoma City Thunder 111-109 behind a game-winning 3-pointer from Nick Young.
It was a balanced attack that helped the Lakers bounce back to claim their fifth home win. This also marked the first time in the last five years that they have held a winning record through the first 15 games of the season. Here are a few things to take away from the contest:
With D’Angelo Russell out for the second time in the last three games, the Lakers picked up the slack offensively with six players scoring in double figures.
Their bench led the charge once again in that department outscoring the Thunder’s second unit 55-33. Jordan Clarkson head the team in scoring with 18 points, which was the fourth time he has led the team in scoring this season.
Jose Calderon also had a strong performance in a fill-in role scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting all coming from behind the arc with four assists, six rebounds, and two steals in just 23 minutes played.
What has been most impressive about this is that the leading scorer for the team has come from the bench in 11 of first 15 games played
Los Angeles was also effective from beyond the arc shooting 51.9% (14-27) and 50.6% from the field for the game. Young played a major part in that scoring 17 points, including nailing 4-of-7 attempts from 3-point range highlighted by the game-winning shot.
“The play was designed to someone else,” Young said. “I think they should have given me a steal for that! We worked hard tonight; it came down to a big shot. I was in the way, stole the ball from Lou, he let me know after the game, he told me, I was lucky I made it.”
It has been an encouraging start to season offensive collectively as a team and Tuesday night was more evidence of that.
Westbrook Dominates Again
Entering Tuesday’s game, Russell Westbrook has been off to another impressive campaign averaging a near triple-double with 31.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 9.6 assists per game.
Westbrook added another stellar outing to that notching 34 points, 13 assists, and eight rebounds. He did most of his damage in the fourth quarter scoring 17 points, which all came in a five-minute stretch late in the fourth quarter capped off by a 3-pointer to pull the Thunder within 108-105 with 1:38 remaining.
This marked his 11th 30-plus point performance of the season, including the last six straight contests reaching that feat. It was also the eighth time that he has recorded double-figure assist totals.
Although the Thunder short, it was yet another game that demonstrated why Westbrook could see himself in serious consideration for the NBA MVP award this season.
Points in the Paint
Although the Lakers snapped their two-game losing streak, their struggles against defending in the paint reared its ugly head again.
The Thunder scored 58 points in the paint, which included 32 in the first half with 20 coming in the second quarter alone. Entering the game, the Lakers had allowed a league-leading 49.9 points in the paint.
Los Angeles has been able to mask much of that problem because of their success on the other end of the court. It has only become a glaring weakness when the team has struggled in their losses this season.
If they hope to make the playoffs a realistic possibility, there will need to be some big improvement in this aspect of the game.
Bob Garcia IV
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