The Thunder enjoyed the bounce-back game it needed on Wednesday.
After a disappointing overtime loss against the Nuggets on Monday, the Thunder turned around to beat the first-place Los Angeles Lakers 105-86. The win gives the Thunder their first win against the Lakers in three tries.
Chris Paul scored a team-high 21 points, followed by 19 points from Danilo Gallinari and 18 points from Steven Adams. LeBron James led the Lakers with 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.
The win improves the Thunder’s record to 2-1 at the Disney World bubble and 42-25 this season. Here are four takeaways from the Thunder’s victory as they approach the halfway point of the eight seeding games.
1. Thunder defense slows down the Lakers
The Lakers’ offensive struggles were on display from the beginning.
They scored just 18 points in the first quarter and finished the game shooting just 35% from the floor and just 5 of 37 (14%) from the 3-point line.
The Thunder’s strategy to limit the Lakers’ All-Star duo of James and Anthony Davis was successful — both combined to score just 27 points. The 86 points scored by the Lakers is their lowest scoring output of the season.
Aside from Monday’s loss against the Nuggets, the Thunder’s defense has been impressive in the bubble. It will be important for the Thunder to sustain its defensive intensity into the playoffs.
2. Chris Paul does it all
Paul led the Thunder points, rebounds and assists, finishing with 21 points (8 of 12 shooting), seven rebounds and six assists.
Paul was the best player on the floor, helping the Thunder fight off several potential Laker runs.
With Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander struggling from the floor (8-of-24 combined shooting), Paul’s steady offense proved to be the key in the Thunder’s blowout victory.
Paul has been the Thunder’s steady force through the team’s first three games at Disney World, and he will look to continue leading the team’s playoff push.
3. Bench struggles without Dennis Schröder
Schröder left the bubble to be with his wife for the birth of his child, leaving Thunder reserves Hamidou Diallo, Darius Bazley, Andre Roberson and Abdel Nader to produce for the team off the bench.
The reserves had a mixed performance, combining for 18 points.
While Nader and Diallo showed flashes of production, it was a rough shooting night for Bazley, who finished with two points on 0 of 7 shooting.
It’s unclear how long Schröder will be away from the team. Until he returns, the Thunder will need more production from its bench.
4. Steven Adams recovers from injury scare
Adams attempted a layup midway through the third quarter and got tangled with Lakers center Javele McGee before falling awkwardly to the floor.
Adams was helped off the floor and did not come back until the fourth quarter, but he looked fully recovered from the injury scare. He finished with 18 points and seven rebounds on 7-of-10 shooting.
Adam’s absence amplified his importance to the team. OKC reserve center Mike Muscala has missed the previous two games with a concussion, leaving Nerlens Noel as the only health center behind Adams.
The Thunder will play the Memphis Grizzlies at 3 p.m. on Friday. The game will air on FOX Sports Oklahoma, NBA TV and WWLS-FM 98.1 in Oklahoma City.