is a running diary of L.A.’s Monday evening Game 3 2nd Round playoff
game vs. Oklahoma City, the Lakers looking to bounce back from a
crushing last-minute loss in Game 2, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Sessions, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
OKC: R. Westbrook, T. Sefolosha, K. Durant, S. Ibaka, K. Perkins
9:25 The first two minutes were for L.A. a very strong
continuation of the solid defense they played in Game 2, the Thunder
missing all five of their attempts, while a bucket each from every
starter but World Peace had L.A. up 8-0, causing OKC’s time out.
4:12 The trend continued despite a line up shift from OKC,
putting Westbrook on the bench in favor of Fisher and moving Durant to
the four (Harden and Sefolosha on the wings, Perkins remaining inside),
with Bryant’s third field goal making it 18-6 for the home team. Two
standing ovations had already come out of a frenzied STAPLES crowd,
appreciating a terrific effort full of ball movement on O and aggression
2:34 Harden did stop the run with consecutive drives to draw
two Kobe fouls (3 of 4 free throws) while going hard to the hoop with
his head down, and Fisher converted a transition finger roll after
Blake’s turnover. So L.A. had finally cooled off, but still led 18-11
into their first time out. At quarter’s end, the lead was 23-15, the
third consecutive excellent defensive quarter (if you take out the final
two minutes of Game 2, of course). All five starters scored, with the
corner three from World Peace giving him the lowest point total.
6:10 With Bryant and Bynum resting on the bench, LAL’s second
unit conceded an 18-9 run to OKC, fueled mostly by Harden’s penetration
off pick and rolls (12 points), while Durant’s triple capped a run to
make it 33-32 OKC. The lead, as large as 12 in the first quarter, was
thus gone alone with the momentum.
3:50 Our first bit of legit testiness came as World Peace
tried to tie Westbrook up while OKC’s PG was on the ground, Westbrook
taking exception and swiping out at MWP, but matching T’s were the only
result as the refs did a good job of breaking up the respective teams.
L.A. had re-taken the lead with four consecutive Bryant free throws,
helped on by Jordan Hill’s activity inside on the glass (plus his huge
swat of Durant).
0:00 A buzzer-beating triple from World Peace, who barely had
time to collect the Sessions pass before firing, allowed L.A. a 50-47
lead heading into the break. A concern, however, was the defense, which
conceded 32 Thunder points after just 15 were allowed in the first
quarter. OKC improved from 30 percent to 41 percent overall with the hot
second period, LAL hanging around 44.4 percent, and getting 15 of 15
makes at the foul line.
6:07 A 13-6 run out of the half from the visitors allowed their
biggest lead of the game, at 60-56, behind Kevin Durant. With LAL’s
trapping of Westbrook on pick and rolls working well, the Thunder put
the ball in Durant’s hands, and his scoring (two field goals) and
play-making (dish for a Sefolosha three) taking advantage of two
unforced Lakers turnovers.
1:49 With OKC in the bonus, LAL was pleased to see Fisher get
switched over to Kobe, as they banged on each other until Fish was
called for the foul, allowing Kobe to make the 21st and 22nd Lakers free
throws in as many attempts. He was 10 of 10 and Bynum 8 of 8, allowing
L.A. to trim what had been a 7-point lead to one. That would be the
margin after three, L.A. improving to a perfect 24 for 24 as Blake FT’s
countered two from Durant (23 points, one more than Kobe).
10:00 Mike Brown decided to keep both Bynum and Gasol in to start
the fourth, resting only Kobe (Blake in with the starters), and four
straight free throws from the bigs (team now 28 for 28) got LAL the lead
back. However, the Lakers couldn’t keep OKC off the line either,
particularly Harden, who hit four more freebies of his own (9 of 10
total) to make it 74-73.
6:40 James Harden continued to absolutely kill the Lakers,
drawing consecutive fouls in about a five-second stretch (neither of
which featured hardly any contact), two bonus free throws preceding a
Durant layup (from Harden) and then Harden’s transition three off a
3:25 An off ball foul on Harden put Kobe at the line, and two
more makes cut OKC’s lead to one. It helped a struggling half court LAL
offense that did manage to get five straight points all from Steve Blake
(a pull-up J and a line-drive triple), but was otherwise having a hard
time getting anything going inside. Bynum was only 2 for 12, getting
pushed out of his favored spots by Perkins.
1:09 An extremely timely 6-0 Lakers run, fueled by Kobe with a
driving layup and then two free throws, erased a 5-point lead to make
it 93-92 Lakers, much to the pleasure of the standing STAPLES Center.
0:09.8 After blowing Game 2 in the final two minutes, the
Lakers erased a 5-point lead in the final two minutes of this one, with
Bryant sealing the win at the foul line, going a perfect 18 for 18 (the
team was 41 of 42), his final two with nine seconds left protecting a
99-96 margin. OKC didn’t have any time outs, and thus had to settle for
Durant’s 30-foot attempt which actually just missed. Ibaka got the board
with three seconds left, but inexplicably tried to stick it back in
instead of kicking out for a three. Bynum swatted him, the horn sounding
moments later, LAL securing a comeback victory to make it a 2-1 series
heading into Saturday’s Game 4. We’ll see you there.