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Lakers vs. Thunder points, takeaways: OKC takes advantage of bad shooting night of LA to pull off a win



In what should have been an exciting matchup between the Lakers and the Thunder, turned into a bad shooting night for LA when the top team in the West fell to the Thunder 105-86. The Lakers have struggled to drop their shots from deep since they arrived in the bubble, and this game was no exception. It wasn’t just the long ball that didn’t fall, however, the Lakers looked all offensive throughout the game, leading to Anthony Davis putting up just nine points after exploding for a 42-point performance on Monday against Utah. James and Davis combined to shoot just 33.3 percent from the field, and did not get much help elsewhere on the field.

The Thunder, on the other hand, were able to take advantage of a night out for LeBron and the Lakers and eventually blew the game open during the second half. While the Lakers struggled hard, OKC deserves some credit, especially considering the sixth man of the year hoping Dennis Schroeder was not in the lineup. Rookie Luguentz Dort stepped up defensively to keep James in check, and Chris Paul orchestrated the Thunder̵

7;s offense perfectly to pull off a win on a night where OKC shot just 20 percent from 3 points. The win helps the Thunder in playoff positioning, while the Lakers are still looking to resolve their photography struggles.

Here are three takeaways from the Thunder victory over the Lakers:

The Lakers’ shooting problems continue

It was another slow start for LA out of the gates and it did not get much better from there. The Lakers shot an abyss 13.5 percent beyond the arc, and despite trying to make a comeback in the fourth quarter, the three still did not fall. It can slip up to guys like Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Dion Waiters who still get their legs under them, but this is the fourth straight game where the Lakers have shot well below their season average of 35 percent from 3. These seed games don’t mean that much for LA in terms of having seed # 1 already locked, but the fact that its shooters have not yet made their shots fall is a bit of a problem. There is obviously still plenty of time before the Lakers should be really worried, but as this team prepares for the fall season, it should be a rallying point.

Luguentz Dort. That’s all.

Dort has built a reputation during his rookie season for being an absolute threat to defense. Earlier in the season, he was commissioned to protect elite players such as James Harden and Damian Lillard, and he had more than his own. Tonight he was given the incredibly high task of controlling LeBron James, and it was quite eye-opening. On several occasions, James tried to put his size on Dort in the low post, but quickly realized that this rookie is built like a brick wall. Aside from an example where LeBron just bulldozed straight through Dort for a nice finish, the Arizona State product made life difficult for James and took him the entire length of the court. He finished the game plus 15, taking up 14 points and four rebounds.

Without Dennis Schroeder’s 18 points per game to help shoulder part of the OKC’s offensive load, Dort was asked to produce more on that side of the ball. While he still needs to improve on his 3-point shooting – he went 0 for 4 at night – it was a solid showing for a player who was on a two-way contract earlier this season. Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari really did most of the heavy lifting on offense, but Dort’s impressive defense and ability to contribute on offense was a difference maker for the Thunder.

Thunder winning makes things interesting in the West

With the victory tonight, Oklahoma City now also draws with the Houston Rockets for No. 5 in the place of the Western Conference. It also puts the Thunder just a 1/2 back of the Utah Jazz for No. 4 spot with five games left on their sowing schedule. This is a crazy position for OKC to be in, given that this team was not even expected to sniff after the season this year. Now the Thunder can be as high as the fourth place in the West, with a very real chance of winning a playoff series. However, the road to securing the No. 4 seed will not be easy, as OKC will still have to play Miami, the Clippers and a surprisingly undefeated Phoenix Suns team in the bubble. But if we have learned one thing from this successful Thunder team, it is that we should never underestimate a team led by Chris Paul. Paul has one of the best seasons of his career and has wanted this team with mainly role players to be one of the best surprises in the West.




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