Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 5/15/12
OKLAHOMA CITY If the Los Angeles Lakers are tired, no one was saying so Tuesday. If they are worn out, no one admitted it. And if the Lakers are serious about making a series out of this Western Conference semifinal, it's going to be hard to get anyone to believe it. Why should we at this point? No reason to think so. Two days after extending their season with a Game 7 win over Denver, the Lakers were exposed in a 119-90 loss to Oklahoma City. They looked tired. They looked like they were out of energy. And now two days after that loss, Los Angeles is set to take the court once again for Game 2 Wednesday night. So, while the first game can possibly be blamed on fatigue, there's not a lot of evidence to support the fact the Lakers can slow down Oklahoma City, and at the same time, find something they didn't show in the 29-point loss. Even Kobe Bryant laughed - a real laugh, too - at the idea of his Lakers being able to equal the Thunder's energy. "You can't," he said. "You just accept that. It's not a big deal." But what Bryant says is a big deal. Couldn't be bigger, considering the Lakers often looked short of fortitude against Denver and were absent of toughness in Game 1. Meanwhile, the Thunder have been sharp, despite eight days off after sweeping Dallas. And if the Lakers can't manage to muster up some degree of want-to, there could be a lot of the same coming again Wednesday. Maybe Bryant's laugh was a defense mechanism. If so, it was more effective than any defense the Lakers put up Monday night as the Thunder shot 53 percent and turned it over just four times total. Accept that. "There's no doubt we have to play harder and give a better effort than what we did in the last game," Laker coach Mike Brown said. "Because these guys (Oklahoma City) are athletic and full of energy and all that other stuff." That other stuff totally undid the Lakers as the Thunder got 27 points from Russell Westbrook, 25 from Kevin Durant and 17 from James Harden. The OKC bench delivered 50 points as the Thunder stars and starters rested in the fourth quarter. The weary Lakers didn't even run enough to get a single fast-break point. Los Angeles shot 42 percent and couldn't stop Westbrook, who was 10-of-15 shooting, while being guarded by everyone from Bryant to Steve Blake. "We can generate turnovers if we're in the right position and we're aggressive when we're supposed to be aggressive," Brown said. Sure, anything is possible, but is it really likely? Will Pau Gasol suddenly play with more fire after being rendered obsolete Monday, going for 10 points in 29 minutes. Bryant got 20 points, but it took him 18 shots to do it. The most stability from the Lakers came from the inconsistent Andrew Bynum, who had 20 points and 14 rebounds. Kobe laughed and joked about the "youthful exuberance" the Thunder have. Said he didn't even remember what it was like to have that kind of spring. The 33-year-old also talked about how Westbrook dressed, skinny jeans and all. Kids these days. He didn't mention the fact he came into the series having played 282 minutes in the playoffs, plus another 31:55 Monday, while Durant came in with 167 minutes and Westbrook just 146. Remember, the Thunder had eight days off, plus a full fourth quarter on the bench, too. Younger, fresher, better. "They got into us and made us uncomfortable," Bryant said. "Made entry passes difficult. Made post passes difficult." But while X's and O's count for something, that's not the issue any more. Sure, the Lakers can defend the pick-and-roll better. They could cut down on turnovers, too. Maybe even get Gasol more involved. But see, the Thunder certainly have answers for all of that. The only thing Oklahoma City doesn't have a gameplan for is what to do if the Lakers bring some energy to match their experience. "We have a good team," Lakers forward Metta World Peace said. "Nobody knows what will happen. That's what the playoffs are about. Nobody knows what will happen." True, but we have a pretty good idea. "It's something I believe we can do," Brown said. He said it, but who's really believing it?
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