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OKC Thunder routs Lakers thanks in part to Luguentz Dort's defense on LeBron James: 'He's an animal'

Luguentz Dort picked up LeBron James full court, showing the kind of defensive confidence an undrafted rookie shouldn’t have against an all-time great.

But Dort’s early defense on James set the tone Wednesday night as the Thunder clamped down on the Lakers in a 105-86 win at HP Field House in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

“That was just the game plan,” Dort said of his pressure defense. “I’m just following what the coaches tell me to do. I just did it, and I feel like it worked well for the team.”

James shot just 7-of-19 from the floor as Dort, Chris Paul, Andre Roberson and Darius Bazley all took turns defending him.

Dort saw the most time against James. The Lakers star bulldozed through Dort for a driving dunk in the second quarter, but almost everything else was difficult for James.

“He’s an animal,” Thunder center Steven Adams said of Dort. “It’s all the small stuff, bro, making them start their offense at a later clock, rushes them more. It’s all that small stuff that is so good. It will help out tremendously in the playoffs.”

James backed down Dort on the Lakers’ first possession of the third quarter, but James missed a bank shot from the block. He held up his hands, and a few minutes later, James was assessed a technical foul from the bench after arguing a call.

“It wasn’t just Lu,” Adams said. “Most of the players who guarded LeBron did a really good job, like Dre. Dre was trying to pressure him up there a lot.”

James’ co-star, power forward Anthony Davis, also struggled. Davis shot just 3-of-11 from the field. James and Davis, who average a combined 52 points per game, were limited to 28 points Wednesday.

The Lakers, perhaps coming off the hangover of clinching the No. 1 seed in the West on Monday, shot 35% from the field and 5-of-37 from 3-point range. They were held to 18 first-quarter points on 1-of-12 3-point shooting.

The Lakers’ 66 points through three quarters tied their lowest mark of the season.

The Thunder was similarly cold offensively as leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was limited to 13 points on 3-of-11 shooting. But OKC was aided by the whistle. After being doomed by missed free throws Monday against the Nuggets, the Thunder shot 32-of-36 from the foul line against the Lakers.

The Thunder was without Dennis Schröder (personal reasons), Terrance Ferguson (right leg contusion) and Mike Muscala (concussion protocol). The Thunder’s starters shouldered a heavier load offensively to compensate for the lack of depth.

All five Thunder starters scored at least 13 points. The bench combined for just 20 points.

Paul led the Thunder with 21 points, and filled the box score with seven rebounds and six assists. Paul drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 10 minutes left that ended a mini run from the Lakers.

Oklahoma City outscored Los Angeles by 25 points with Paul on the floor.

The Thunder (42-25) is 2-1 in the season restart and half a game back of the Jazz for fourth place in the Western Conference.

Related Photos
<strong>Thunder guard Luguentz Dort drives to the basket in a sea of Lakers, including former OKC Blue guard Alex Caruso (4) during the second quarter Wednesday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. [Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP]</strong>

Thunder guard Luguentz Dort drives to the basket in a sea of Lakers, including former OKC Blue guard Alex Caruso (4) during the second quarter Wednesday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. [Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ce6754a52db61b424aa717166b64391b.jpg" alt="Photo - Thunder guard Luguentz Dort drives to the basket in a sea of Lakers, including former OKC Blue guard Alex Caruso (4) during the second quarter Wednesday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. [Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP] " title=" Thunder guard Luguentz Dort drives to the basket in a sea of Lakers, including former OKC Blue guard Alex Caruso (4) during the second quarter Wednesday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. [Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP] "><figcaption> Thunder guard Luguentz Dort drives to the basket in a sea of Lakers, including former OKC Blue guard Alex Caruso (4) during the second quarter Wednesday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. [Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0158dc4d9f77a8541f34b6b4eedf5d2a.jpg" alt="Photo - In their first game since clinching the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, LeBron James and the Lakers struggled to make 3-pointers Wednesday against the Thunder. [Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP] " title=" In their first game since clinching the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, LeBron James and the Lakers struggled to make 3-pointers Wednesday against the Thunder. [Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP] "><figcaption> In their first game since clinching the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, LeBron James and the Lakers struggled to make 3-pointers Wednesday against the Thunder. [Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-849497062f62680e3ed737cc78eaa9f6.jpg" alt="Photo - Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari drives to the basket against the Lakers during the second quarter Wednesday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. [Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP] " title=" Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari drives to the basket against the Lakers during the second quarter Wednesday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. [Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP] "><figcaption> Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari drives to the basket against the Lakers during the second quarter Wednesday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. [Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-dfcffc123c24cbe05be13f4a2e30097f.jpg" alt="Photo - Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James is defended by Oklahoma City Thunder's Luguentz Dort during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP) " title=" Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James is defended by Oklahoma City Thunder's Luguentz Dort during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP) "><figcaption> Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James is defended by Oklahoma City Thunder's Luguentz Dort during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP) </figcaption></figure>
Joe Mussatto

Joe Mussatto joined The Oklahoman in August 2018 to cover OU football, men’s basketball and softball. He previously covered University of Kentucky football and basketball for SEC Country. Mussatto is from Oklahoma City and lives in Norman. Read more ›

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