Ridiculous thunderous Lakers

At one point, you stop having the benefit of the doubt and have to sweat from there to get your credit back. For these Lakers 2021-22, an experiment whose judgment will occupy us much of the season, this game could be that point. East 123-115 in OKC, tonight the Thunder won their first game after four losses and they came back from a 26-point deficit for the first time in their history.

As it sounds, this is how it was: the Lakers led 19-41 after the first quarter and 44-70 at 3:28 by halftime. Against one of the worst teams in recent NBA history (or without the recent), a very long rebuilding Thunder, who have been taking a beating for a season or so and putting on the court a dubious mix of talent that is too young and players bordering on the NBA level. Against that, and with a +26, there is no excuse. Nor the casualties: LeBron James (two games in a row without playing, again last season’s ankle …), nor those that are still missing (Ariza, Horton-Tucker, Ellington, Nunn …). That is valid against other rivals, at another level of demand, in games that get more complicated. With Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis on track, a team would have to win in Oklahoma City almost always and always, forever, with a +26 near the break. But it was an embarrassing night, of shame. A demonstration that things they do not go Despite the two victories in a row, both suffered a lot (Grizzlies and Spurs) and with options to lose until the end.

The Lakers can quickly become that team. Every season there is one that no one would want to be. But someone it is, and if you are not careful you end being you. ANDThe one who has no chemistry, the one who only has names, the one who loses in many different ways while others simply compete. Some with more and others with less, each one to the best of their ability. But with pride and professionalism. What the Lakers left in the locker room in a regrettable, hateful game: 41-23 in the third quarter, seeing is believing, and 97-95 before a last quarter in which the Angelenos only scored 20 points, linking losses and squeezing only when they saw themselves with the water around their necks. So they turned a -8 into a 116-115, just because the Thunder are experts at losing.

And they did everything possible to lose, but it was not enough against a most effective loser. First, That Frank Vogel defense that was scary for two years and now it’s a bad joke he watched as Josh Giddey hit an easy basket to Favors (118-115). Then came the final farce, the hard-earned derision. While the Thunder lost balls without passing their field, three triples appeared out of nowhere to tie, three, all missed and two with air balls. Westbrook, Monk, Carmelo. And a final expulsion from Westbrook because, Oh, it bothered him that Bazley closed the game with a dunk at the last minute. The pride he hadn’t had to win, the misunderstood pride.

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Anthony Davis had 30 points and 8 rebounds but did not dominate a game that he would have to dominate. And Westbrook left all Westbrook experience, the premium pack: a quadruple-double with 20 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists … and 10 losses, some linked in an incomprehensible way in the last quarter, while what seemed like a miracle became reality. It was an embarrassment for a team without spirit, without courage, without ideas and without external defense, until now a hallmark and now a grotesque (Green, Caruso, Caldwell-Pope have been leaving …). A night of horror, in which defeat was the only deserved end. Anything else, in that final push, would have been unfair. The basketball gods smiled at the one who, with all his flaws and miseries, at least put the bullfighter ashamed.

The Thunder won, and for them that is news and cause for celebration. It won’t be long. And they showed that they have wickers, because they do. The problem is that those wickers play all together and that, against those who are in the present and not in that future that so often never comes, has a cost. But at least there will be nights like this: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander played a wonderful third quarter (17 of his 27 points with 9 rebounds and 5 assists) in which his finesse contrasted with the foolish carelessness of an infamous rival. Josh Giddey, number 6 in the last draft, played his best game of the season: 18 points and 10 assists with almost no errors and with a surgical reading of the (laughable) defense of the Lakers. Very good, with Bazley and Dort putting energy and Favors providing a professionalism in the zones that is great for a team that is too young, too disjointed.

Here is this for the Lakers: from a +26 that pointed to a third straight victory and the first moment of a certain placidity of the course to a Dantesque disaster, a fall to the bottom, to the bottom. We’ve already seen the Howard vs. Davis fight, LeBron’s injury, and Westbrook’s underdog ejection. All this in five games in which what we have not seen, not yet, is a glimpse of that team that could be fearsome. And that right now, because it is not, it is not even a team. They would have to start there anyway.

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