Capital D from Ron Artest (and lowercase o)
No one questioned his defense.
After all, Ron Artest has the toughest assignment on the Lakers’ team, trying to slow down Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant, who was the NBA’s leading scorer during the regular season.
But Artest has been questioned about his offense, which was once again virtually nonexistent during the Lakers’ 95-92 victory over the Thunder on Tuesday night in Game 2 of the Western Conference first-round playoffs at Staples Center.
Lamar Odom also wasn’t much of a factor on the offensive end in Game 2.
Artest and Odom combined for just nine on four-for-19 shooting.
Artest was two-for-10 from the field and scored just five points.
He is five-for-21 from the field in the first two post-season games, two-for-14 from three-point range.
That being the case, Artest was asked if his offense was suffering because he was paying so much attention to Durant, because he was so focused on defense, because he was using all his energy to deal with Durant.
Artest chuckled before he answered the question.
“It’s going to come through. It’s going to come through,” Artest said. “The bad thing about it is, I feel great. But, you know, that’s the sacrifice you’ve got to make.”
Odom missed seven of his nine shots.
He missed five of six in the second half.
“We’ll find the rhythm,” Odom said of himself and Artest. “It’s like that sometimes. You know how this triangle is. You miss one or two layups that you should make, and you might not shoot the ball four or five times up and down the court.
“But, that doesn’t mean you can’t contribute. I always tell you the name of the game is basketball and not who scores the ball.”
Odom’s other contributions came on the backboards, where he had eight, four offensive.
The Lakers had 19 offensive rebounds.
That helped to offset the 17 blocked shots the Thunder had. It was a Lakers’ playoff opponent record.
“You expect that from them,” Odom said. “They’ve got live legs.
“We got second opportunities from them getting off their feet. When the shot goes up and they are off their feet, you are in good position for an offensive rebound.”
Artest put his stamp on the game late – and it was on defense.
Durant finished with 32 points on 12-for-26 shooting. He was three-for-six from three-point range.
But when the game hung in the balance, when the Thunder trailed, 90-88, with 1:48 left, Durant was called for an offensive foul against Artest.
Later, with the Lakers leading, 92-88, with 1:21 left, Artest poked the ball away from Durant.
It was Artest’s fourth steal of the game. It was Durant’s eighth turnover of the game.
“A few months ago, I was telling you guys that by playoff time, I was going to be a defensive monster,” said Artest, who was sixth in the NBA’s balloting for the defensive-player-of-the-year award that came out Tuesday.
“And I’ve got a lot more work to do. But if I could only play offense, I would be on the bench because we’ve got enough offensive players.”