The Lakers blew a 26-point lead to the lowly Thunder on Wednesday. Russell Westbrook, Malik Monk and Carmelo Anthony each badly missed tying 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds. Westbrook had a “quadruple-double” (20 points on 20 shots, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and 10 turnovers).
The real culprit?
Oklahoma City forward Darius Bazley, who dunked uncontested with the Thunder up five and 1.5 seconds left.
Westbrook accosted Bazley over the dunk, getting ejected with his second technical foul. The technical free throw clinched Oklahoma City’s 123-115 victory.
Keep in mind: The Lakers were still trying right until the moment Bazley stole the ball. It wasn’t totally unreasonable for Bazley – who has made fewer than 70% of his career free throws – to take the open dunk rather than double check the time remaining/risk getting fouled.
Even if Bazley were showboating, he would’ve been entitled. The young Thunder should enjoy their wins.
Likewise, even if his effrontery puts him on the wrong side of this dispute, Westbrook probably set the right tone for himself and his team. He’ll likely feel better once LeBron James returns from his ankle injury and lifts the Lakers.
Bazley can feel good tonight.