The Los Angeles Lakers were embarrassed the last time they played the Oklahoma City Thunder and fell to an 0-1 hole after losing 119-90. The Lakers did open the game well, but as time went on the Thunder used speed and explosiveness to open up the lead.
The Lakers could not afford to go down 0-2 heading back to Staples Center, considering the fact that both of those games will come on consecutive nights. Many people already called off the Lakers in the series after Game 1, and it was their duty to change the perception tonight.
Neither team was able to score in the early going and their offenses looked a little stagnant. The Lakers were getting nice looks in the paint, but they were not able to convert. The Thunder were also missing on some open looks, and their jumpers were not falling through. At the 9:35 mark of the period, the Lakers were up 4-2.
Kobe Bryant started the game shooting 1-4 and the Lakers continued to struggle on the offensive end. Los Angeles was able to penetrate into the paint but it either could not convert or got rejected by Serge Ibaka. Due to a 3-11 start, the Lakers were down 10-6 with 6:18 to play.
The Lakers started to pound the ball inside and their big men where able to knocks down shots in the paint. The Thunder’s frontcourt had trouble guarding them, and it was easy offense for the Lakers. However, the Lakers still had trouble defending the Thunder and Russell Westbrook’s speed was a killer on that end. At the 3:36 mark, the Lakers were down 16-14.
The Lakers closed out the quarter well, and it was thanks to their solid play in the paint. Andrew Bynum was asserting his dominance down there and that allowed the team to excel near the basket. After 12 minutes of play, the Lakers were up 22-21. Bynum led the Lakers in scoring with ten points while Kobe had six on 2-7 shooting.
Despite the early dominance from Bynum, the Lakers coaching staff stuck with the usual rotation and kept him on the bench for a rest. Although the Lakers had trouble scoring with Bynum and Kobe out, the Thunder did not take advantage and blow open a lead. James Harden ran the offense for Oklahoma City and his effectiveness forced Kobe back into the game. At the 9:59 mark of the period, the Lakers were down 25-22.
The Thunder went on a 13-4 run to take control of the momentum and it seemed as though they would run away with the game again. The crowd was getting loud and the Lakers needed buckets in order to answer the surge. Mike Brown wanted his players to play with more physicality and when they were on the verge of losing their confidence, the Lakers responded.
The Lakers battled strong and responded well to the Thunder run. The team returned to attack the paint and its ability to crash the board helped it get back into the game. Kobe Bryant was having an off-shooting night, but his knack of hitting timely shots was crucial. He also set up his teammates for nice looks and at the 3:40 mark of the quarter, the Lakers were up 39-38.
Through two quarters, the Lakers faced a three point deficit, 48-45. Bynum led the Lakers with 12 points and five rebounds, Kobe had ten points while Gasol put in eight points and four rebounds. As a team, the Lakers shot 42 percent from the field while the Thunder were at 50 percent.
The Lakers and Thunder had another slow start to the second half and the offense was coming a little slow. Neither team was able to get their shots down despite the nice looks. Kobe Bryant played more of a facilitator role in the early going and at 9:54 to play, the Lakers were down one, 48-47.
Los Angeles played well as the quarter progressed and used a 6-0 run to take a 51-48 lead. The Thunder continued to struggle from the paint, while the Lakers used their big men to get points down low. Bynum and Gasol were dominating the paint and the opponent offered very little resistance.
The Lakers went back-and-forth with the Thunder and both teams were playing at an extremely high level. The Lakers were getting the shots they wanted, but they could not do enough to stop the Thunder and open up their lead. Los Angeles kept on using the big men in the paint and they were proving to be reliable options. At the 3:40 mark, the Lakers were up 57-53.
After 36 minutes of play, the Lakers were up 63-60 behind 16 points from both Kobe and Bynum.
The Lakers began the fourth quarter with Bynum and Kobe on the bench, and the offense struggled a bit. The Lakers were forcing up bad shots and the ball movement went missing. The Thunder had two of their stars on the court and they managed to tie the game at 63 with 9:20 to play.
Once Kobe and Bynum reentered the game, the Lakers’ offense returned to its previous form and the team went on a run. The Thunder began to struggle on the offensive end and a lot of that had to do with the Lakers’ effort on defense. Metta World Peace continued with his stellar defense and he helped the Lakers go up 69-63 after a free-throw with 7:27 left to play.
The Lakers’ offense hit a snag, but their defense allowed them to maintain a cushion. Ibaka kept on blocking the Lakers’ shots, but the team never overreacted to the highlight plays. Luckily, the Lakers were very strong on the other end of the court and were up 73-68 with 3:16 left.
In the final three minutes of the game, the Lakers could not close out the Thunder despite holding a commanding lead in the final minutes. The Thunder did make the game very interesting late and they eventually took the lead with 18.6 seconds left.
The Lakers made very costly turnovers late and they faced a deficit with only seconds remaining. Steve Blake had a chance to win the game with a three-point shot but he missed and the Lakers lost the game, 77-75.
Game 3 will be held in Staples Center at 7:30 p.m. PST on Friday.