Roberson's Defense Pushes Thunder Past Lakers
Andre Roberson only scored 10 points. He only grabbed seven rebounds. But the second-year pro stole the show in Los Angeles on Friday night with his lockdown defense against future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant.
Roberson held Bryant to nine points on 3-of-15 shooting and smothered his game-winning shot attempt with just seconds to go as the Thunder held on for a 104-103 win at Staples Center. Down one with time running out, Bryant went to his signature step back turned pump fake move from the left wing. But instead of crashing into Bryant's shot fake, Roberson narrowly avoided the Lakers' star and forced yet another miss.
“Andre did a good job of guarding one of the toughest players in the league to guard,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. The thing that I like about Dre is that he just does his job. He doesn't say a word, he just competes, and you want those guys on your team. He does it night in and night out.”
Roberson's defense wouldn't have mattered if the Thunder hadn't managed enough offense, and Oklahoma City's dynamic point guard duo took care of that. Russell Westbrook was sensational yet again, pouring in 31 points to go with 10 assists. Reggie Jackson was also on his game and dropped 25 points off the Thunder bench.
“Those guys can score,” Brooks emphasized afterward. “Reggie and Russell can score, but they need to be playmakers and help their teammates score. And I thought we did a good job of that.”
Westbrook wasn't in the mood to discuss his performance but didn't mind praising Roberson's effort.
“He's getting better and better every game,” Westbrook said. “He does all the little things that people may not see throughout the game that really helps us and makes us a better team and I'm just proud of him.”
Serge Ibaka also had a solid night with 16 points and seven boards.
Los Angeles, suffering its worst season in recent memory, entered Friday's game on a bit of an upswing. The Lakers had won three of their previous four games as they've gotten some key players healthy. One of those keys was Nick Young, who missed the first 10 games of the season but has been a tough dude to handle since. Young entered Friday's game averaging more than 15 points a night, but exited Friday's game prematurely. Young got into a fourth-quarter scuffle with serial-agitator Steven Adams and got tossed by another serial agitator, official Joey Crawford, after shoving Adams in the chest. Young finished with 10 points but his absence down the stretch was noticeable.
Ed Davis scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead this motley crew of Lakers. This Los Angeles squad, perhaps the NBA's version of the Island of Misfit Toys, is comprised of six players who are in their first season with the team. Davis is one of those guys, as is journeyman sharpshooter Wayne Ellington. A teammate of Davis' on UNC's 2009 National Championship team, Ellington shot 3-of-4 from 3-point range to aid the Lakers' upset bid.
Carlos Boozer scored 14 points to lead the Lakers' second unit, while Jeremy Lin chipped in 12. Ronnie Price added 14 for LA, all of which came in the first quarter.
Oklahoma City (13-14) won this one without the services of the reigning MVP. Kevin Durant missed the game as his ankle continues to heal and his status moving forward is day-to-day. OKC remains one game back of New Orleans for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference standings. Conveniently, the Thunder hosts those pesky Pelicans on Sunday evening at 6 p.m.