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NBA Playoffs Thunder Crush Lakers

N.B.A. Roundup

Well-Rested Thunder Crush Lakers

By TOM SPOUSTA
Published: May 14, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY – In the aftermath, as the crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena continued to rock around them, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol remained on the Los Angeles Lakers’ bench for several minutes as they searched for some answer to what the Oklahoma City Thunder had done to them.

The image of these two pillars in the post sorting through wreckage spoke to the Lakers’ frustration Monday night and resonated well beyond the 119-90 final score. Neither team wanted to claim it meant anything more than the Thunder taking a 1-0 lead in these Western Conference semifinals, but Oklahoma City found an overall groove that threw the Lakers out of sync.

Russell Westbrook’s 27 points and Kevin Durant’s 25 led the blowout, and James Harden came off the bench for 17 points. The Thunder’s recipe also included 53 percent shooting, 20 assists, 13 steals and only four turnovers, a complete game crispness after an eight-day hiatus that pushed Oklahoma City to a 35-point lead late in the third quarter.

“To be honest, I think we could be better,” said Durant, who was 8 of 16 from the floor. Westbrook was even more accurate, hitting 10 of 15 shots.

“Regardless if we won by one or 20, it doesn’t have any impact on Wednesday without the same energy,” said Thunder Coach Scott Brooks.

Bynum and Kobe Bryant scored 20 points each, but the Lakers never really exploited their muscle and height in the middle, especially with Thunder center Kendrick Perkins hobbled with a strained hip muscle. Bynum also had 14 rebounds, 10 of those coming on the defensive end. The forward Gasol finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds.

“We were just talking about what we were going to do offensively as far as getting us involved in the high-low game, because we have an advantage there and we have to get to it,” Bynum said of his conversation with Gasol.

“We have to do a better job on screen and roll coverages,” Bryant said. “(The Thunder) set great screens and found a great rhythm.”

The Lakers looked lethargic coming off a seven-game series with the Denver Nuggets, and had a built-in excuse with only a 48-hour turnaround from their clinching victory Saturday night. “We got beat tonight,” said Lakers Coach Mike Brown. “You can say anything you want about the seven game series, but the bottom line is this is the playoffs and you have to come to play. We didn’t.”

The Thunder buried the Lakers with a stunning 21-6 run to start the third quarter, taking an 83-50 lead that electrified the sellout crowd. Durant started the rout with a jump shot, Westbrook followed with a dunk and a 3-pointer by Durant on the next possession sent the sellout crowd of 18,203 into a frenzy.

Trailing 59-44 at halftime, the Lakers seemed to have weathered an early Thunder rally, and their energy early signaled the possibility that they could steal Game 1. Bynum established a presence in the middle with 14 points and 9 rebounds in the first half; Metta World Peace, booed every time he touched the ball by a crowd unforgiving of his elbow to Harden’s head in a late-season game, stretched Oklahoma City’s defense with a couple 3-pointers en route to a quick 10 points; Bryant also had 10 points, but took only seven shots and seemed to be measuring the Thunder for a future flurry.

But the Thunder took control in the last three minutes of the second quarter, pulling away with a 9-2 run for its 15-point halftime lead. Perkins was left alone and drilled a jump shot, which Westbrook followed with a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws. When Durant floated down the lane for a basket with 45 seconds to go, the Lakers had enough time to score again and regroup for a second half rally.

The Thunder, though, proved to be just warming up.

76ERS 82, CELTICS 81 Evan Turner made the go-ahead layup with 40.4 seconds left, and visiting Philadelphia held off Boston the rest of the way with six straight free throws as the 76ers evened the teams’ second-round Eastern Conference series with an 82-81 victory.

Turner finished with 10 points, including the layup that put the Sixers ahead, 76-75. He added two free throws with 12 seconds to go.

Jrue Holiday scored 18 points and Andre Iguodala contributed 13 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds for the Sixers, who blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter as the Celtics won Game 1, 92-91.

Kevin Garnett had 15 points and 12 rebounds and Ray Allen scored 17 points for the Celtics.

Game 3 is Wednesday in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia won its first playoff game in Boston since 1982 despite committing a playoff-high 19 turnovers and being out-rebounded, 47-36.

Spencer Hawes finished with 8 points and 10 rebounds and Lavoy Allen had 10 points for the Sixers.

Brandon Bass scored 12 points for the Celtics, who could not quite repeat their comeback in the series opener. It was starting to look familiar for Philadelphia, but the Sixers were able to hold off the Celtics down the stretch. (AP)

BOSH OUT INDEFINITELY Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat were relieved by the diagnosis. It’s the prognosis — or lack of one — that’s a source of worry now.

And suddenly, the Indiana Pacers may be even more of a threat.

Bosh strained a lower abdominal muscle on Sunday in Game 1 of the teams’ Eastern Conference semifinal series, a diagnosis confirmed Monday after an magnetic resonance imaging test. The team said Bosh was out indefinitely, though Coach Erik Spoelstra and others say the injury could have been worse.

Either way, Bosh is out for Game 2 on Tuesday, and it seems as if he probably will not play again in this series. “This season has to be extended for me to play again,” Bosh said. (AP)

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