The Los Angeles Lakers added yet another NBA championship to their trophy case in 2010, eventually defeated their arch-rival Boston Celtics in a seven-game series that will long be celebrated by the legion of fans.
Their playoff run began on April 18, 2010, when the Lakers played host to an Oklahoma City Thunder team was hoping to pull off an upset. With a young core featuring rising stars like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka, the eighth-seeded Thunder had the potential to give the Lakers, who finished first in the West, plenty of trouble.
To make matters worse in Game 1, Los Angeles had to weather a poor outing from Kobe Bryant, who was the focal point of the Lakers’ attack. Bryant scored 21 points but shot just 32 percent from the field and 58 percent from the free throw line while committing two turnovers and recording just two rebounds and three assists despite playing a team-high 41 minutes.
Bryant had sat out four of the final five games of the regular season to rest an ailing knee and broken right index finger, which may have factored into his poor shooting.
Even with the rare off-night from Bryant, the Lakers were able to find a way to get the win thanks in large part to their twin towers of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. The two men dominated the paint for Los Angeles, bullying Oklahoma City into submission.
Bynum finished an impressive night with 13 points on 60 percent shooting, 12 rebounds, and a massive four blocks in 30 minutes on the floor. The talented big man was a deterrent at the rim all night and made life miserable for the Thunder offense.
As impressive as Bynum was, Gasol may have been even better. He switched seamlessly between positions, playing power forward next to Bynum but sliding to center when he shared the court with the versatile Lamar Odom.
When the Lakers needed a basket, there was Gasol to find a way to put points on the board. He finished the night with 19 points while shooting 50 percent from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line, and he also pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked three shots.
It wasn’t a perfect performance from the Lakers but on this day they were able to overcome adversity and find a way to start the playoffs with a big win.
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