Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fisher a Calming Influence for Thunder

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fisher a Calming Influence for Thunder

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES -- The homecoming began with the national anthem. The fans couldn't even wait until it ended.

"Derek!" and "Fish!" they shouted during the song, interrupting the L.A. Delta Chorale in mid-red-glare.

It always sort of felt patriotic to cheer Derek Fisher, didn't it? It was certainly appropriate Thursday, his return to Staples Center becoming two hours' worth of bombs bursting in the air above a Lakers team that cowered beneath their former leader and his new teammates.

Fish was back, just in time to remind the Lakers that they weren't. Fish won big, and the Lakers lost bigger.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, the best team in the West, came back from a 12-point deficit to run over the Lakers in a 102-93 victory that made a huge swaggering statement about the Lakers' chances of playing in June.

Fisher has a better chance of growing hair.

Perhaps buoyed by an emotional pregame tribute for his first trip home since being traded away two weeks ago, Fisher scored seven consecutive points in the second quarter and helped calm a Thunder that outscored the Lakers 13-1 to start the third quarter and roll to the win in an embarrassing fashion.

There was Russell Westbrook running past a jogging Kobe Bryant at the end of the third quarter and hitting a three-pointer at the buzzer, a shot so emphatic Westbrook stood at midcourt and pretended to shoot two guns and then holster them.

There was Nick Collison -- yes, Nick Collison -- sneaking in ahead of Pau Gasol for an offensive rebound and basket putback. There was Westbrook, after a long Thunder possession, finding himself wide open for a dunk ahead of a chasing Steve Blake.

With 9:08 remaining, fans began booing, and it only got worse. After cutting the lead to nine points late, the Lakers seemingly had one more chance to make a run when they ran an offensive set so horrific, it resulted in a confused fumble by Gasol and a 24-second violation.

The entire second half, in which the Lakers were outscored 58- 44, was a basketball violation.

Think this team's championship chances were drastically improved at the trading deadline? Think this team finally has its act together? Think again.

The Lakers were supposed to be a better match for the Thunder's quickness, yet new guard Ramon Sessions was outscored 36-7 by Westbrook. …

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