It was a clash of the old and the new. One team had all of its former glory hanging in the rafters. The other team was literally there to bring the Thunder. And that’s exactly what Oklahoma City did last night against the Los Angeles Lakers in Derek Fisher’s return in a 102-93 win. If anything, it was a turning of the tables after years of Laker dominance — although one regular season win doesn’t mean quite that much.
Still to hear Lakers’ coach Mike Brown discuss the game afterwards, it was clear he was disappointed.
“To give up the buckets we did in the third quarter the way we did,” Brown said of the Thunder’s outscoring the Lakers 34-19 in the quarter, "it was disappointing to watch.
“Obviously they picked up their intensity and their sense of urgency and they played with a physicality in the third quarter that they knew was to their advantage. They said, ’We’re coming out and we’re going to take it right at ‘em.’ "
The Thunder have the obvious advantage in terms of athleticism and youth, and the grind of a shortened NBA season like this one plays right into the team’s hands. However the season starts again come playoff time and the Thunder’s mettle will be tested then. That is when the experience of their new point guard will come into play to help settle them if their youthful exuberance or even nerves are getting the best of them.
For now, it’s clear the Lakers have some work to do to get ready for a team like the Thunder again. Despite strong showings from Andrew Bynum and Bryant, they still got rolled by almost double digits.