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D’Angelo Russell Shatters OKC Illusions as Lakers Reign Supreme


D’Angelo Russell and the Lakers sensed blood in the water and exploited the Thunder’s biggest weakness.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are flying high; after three rebuilding seasons, they have now emerged as one of the best teams in the association. Alas, they are a great team with one major weakness: rebounding. On Monday night, the Los Angeles Lakers sensed blood in the water and made them pay, with D’Angelo Russell leading the team in scoring with 26 en route to a huge 116-104 win for the Purple and Gold over the Western Conference’s number two team.

Russell, in particular, recognized the fact that the Phoenix Suns, particularly Jusuf Nurkic, dominated the Thunder on the glass last night (Nurkic hauled in a career-high and a Suns franchise record 31 rebounds in a 118-110 loss); this meant that the Lakers, a team that could overwhelm the opposition with their size, could do the same.

“I watched Nurkic get 31 on them last night, so I knew we could dominate,” Russell said in his postgame presser, per Michael Corvo, Lakers beat reporter for ClutchPoints.

Indeed, the Thunder’s glaring weakness is starting to bite them on the backside; even the Lakers, a team that doesn’t exactly excel in crashing the boards (they may have Anthony Davis to clean up on the glass, but they still rank 17th in rebounding rate, per, were able to destroy them in that aspect of the game.

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The Lakers had 55 total rebounds as a team (even D’Angelo Russell had six boards) compared to only 38 for the Thunder; sure, it helped them that OKC shot just 39.4 percent from the field, creating more rebounding chances, but finishing defensive stops with boards is an underrated part of the game that the Lakers took care of with ease.

Meanwhile, the Thunder, the 29th-ranked team in terms of rebounding rate, should be worried that teams will be playing extra physical with them from here on out on the glass, as Chet Holmgren isn’t exactly the best rebounder out there. It’s easier said than done to dominate a strong OKC team in that regard, but against other high-level teams where nothing much separates the two teams, this flaw could prove crucial to their hopes of making it deep into the postseason.

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About the Author

Jedd Pagaduan is a certified Clippers and Gunners fan, which means he’s a very sports-traumatized individual. He now writes about sports instead as a form of therapy.


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