Kobe Bryant's concession of athletic superiority to Thunder ominous sign for Lakers
OKLAHOMA CITY – During Kobe Bryant's stroll out of Chesapeake Energy Arena, where the Oklahoma City Thunder throttled the Lakers 119-90 in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, Bryant put to rest the notion that fatigue played a factor in Monday night's blowout.
"We could have the same amount of rest and they can still play faster than we can," Bryant told Yahoo! Sports. "They can still jump higher. It's not going to make no difference."
Trouble is on the horizon for the Lakers and the schedule isn't offering any breaks.
The Lakers had only one day to rest after a seven-game series against the Denver Nuggets. The Thunder were eight days fresh, going hard only at each other during some grueling practices.
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Nuggets guards Ty Lawson and Andre Miller gave the Lakers problems in the first round, but they were warm-ups compared to the clinic Thunder guard Russell Westbrook put on Monday: 27 points, seven rebounds, nine assists and one turnover in 27 minutes.
As tough as Lakers forward Metta World Peace might be, 6-foot-9 forward Kevin Durant can shoot over him at any time and did just that, scoring 25 in 28 minutes.
The Thunder had 21 second-chance points and outscored the Lakers 13-0 on the fast break. Oklahoma City put the game out of reach with 39 points in the third quarter before giving its starters the rest of the night off.
After the final buzzer sounded, concerned Los Angeles big men Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum were left sitting on the bench for several more minutes talking strategy.
When asked if the Lakers could guard the Thunder, an irritated Bryant sarcastically said, "No."
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Bryant wasn't the only one good for a chuckle. "To be honest, I think we could play better," Durant said. "We could do a lot of things better, such as executing on the offensive end, helping each other out more on the defensive end and cutting down turnovers."
The Thunder had just four turnovers.
There's no letup for the Lakers: Game 2 is Wednesday while Games 3 and 4 will be on Friday and Saturday in Los Angeles. Coach Mike Brown said he will watch film with his players Tuesday and they won't do much from a physical standpoint in their afternoon practice.
"Obviously, the energy and freshness was going to be on their side," Gasol said. "That's why we have to come up with things out there to compensate. We have to give ourselves a chance somehow."
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These aren't the inexperienced and pesky Thunder from two seasons ago that lost to the Lakers in a tough six-game series. Durant and Westbrook are All-Stars. Forward James Harden is the NBA's best scoring reserve. The Thunder have size in Kendrick Perkins – if his hip holds up – and Serge Ibaka.
This is why Kobe Bryant didn't think all the rest in the world could've stopped this. He offered hope, saying, "I've been through it before and our team has been through it before. We just have to make adjustments. They were obviously well prepared. They came in with a great strategy, great game plan. They executed every well. The chess move is on us now."
Not much time to rest.
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