Trying To Explain The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Win Over The L.A. Lakers

March 28th, 2010 by Daniel Suhr Leave a reply »
Recently the Oklahoma Thunder upset the Los Angeles Lakers 91-75, but lead 80-47 after three quarters.  It was a tremendous win for a young core of players who are set to make their first playoff appearance this year.  They out-worked, out-shot and out-played the reigning NBA Champions.

However, only the most ardent Thunder fans would be so bold as to say the Thunder, lead by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, are better than the Lakers.  The Thunder, with a record (as of this writing) of 44-28 and a +3.5 scoring per game differential, are a solid playoff caliber team and are clearly improving each year.

In comparison Los Angeles Lakers, a.k.a. last season's NBA Champions, have a 54-19 record along with a +5.8 scoring per game differential.  

So what gives? How did the Oklahoma City Thunder not just beat, but destroy the Lakers?  Clearly the superior team from the tip-off to the game ending buzzer, the answer must lie not in talent, but in motivation.

Any teams performance in any game can be roughly approximated by what I call the "Performance Model".  The Performance Model says that on any given night, ...

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