Lakers 95, Thunder 92: Game 2 Running Diary

60223737Lakers – Thunder Gameday Page
The Lakers looked to hold serve against Oklahoma City in Game 2 of their first round series, and we took a quarter-by-quarter look at the contest to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Lakers: Sasha Vujacic (ankle)
Thunder: Byron Mullins, DJ White

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Thunder: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic

Phil Jackson on Kobe Bryant
Lakers head coach Phil Jackson talked Kobe, Kobe and more Kobe in his pregame session with the media, which you can read in its entirety by CLICKING HERE.

60223892First Quarter
11:25 Kobe Bryant’s father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, was seated directly across from L.A.’s bench wearing a black Nike cap. His son promptly nailed his first jumper of the game from the wing near JellyBean’s seat. Give him the assist on that one.

6:36 Bryant added two more early buckets to score six of L.A.’s first eight points, and Artest hit an open three after going 1-for-8 in Game 1 to tie the game at 11. On the other hand, Andrew Bynum had yet to take a shot, and Pau Gasol’s only attempt was a face up 17-foot jumper. That went against what Phil Jackson and his coaching staff generally look for, but the Thunder were doing a good job of denying entry passes. However, L.A. still went on a 9-4 run capped by Jordan Farmar’s fresh-off-the-bench 3-pointer to take a 20-15 lead in a good stretch at both ends.

0:34.2 Kevin Durant scored his 10th point of the quarter by hitting 1-of-2 free throws, but needed nine shots to get there (making four field goals). Artest remained just as much in his personal space as in Game 1, and forced two turnovers himself by stripping the ball out of the league’s leading scorer’s hands. Artest’s defensive energy leaked outwards, as the Lakers held OKC to only three points in the final five minutes to take a 26-18 lead into the second quarter.

Second Quarter
8:25 Bryant’s return from the bench was immediately marked by his made jumper off glass, which put the Lakers up 11, a high-point first reached when Shannon Brown joined Farmar with a three off the bench. The bench duo provided a similar boost in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game. Also, they have a combined vertical leap of about 77 inches.

4:48 Just an odd few minutes of basketball in the middle of the second quarter, including several missed layups from the Lakers (including one from Kobe in transition after Artest had artfully stripped Durant once again before saving the ball from going out of bounds with an in-between-the-leg pass), some interesting calls at both ends and the consumption of four churros in three minutes by me (last one unrelated). Alas, the Thunder got the better of the stretch, cutting an 11-point lead to two on Jeff Green’s corner three.

0:00 The odd quarter turned quite negative for the Lakers, as OKC rallied from the 11-point deficit to take a 47-45 lead into halftime. The Lakers had 10 turnovers, and Bryant continued to miss at the rim while protesting for fouls (credit Serge Ibaka’s presence to an extent), and Durant got it going on the other end to score nine of his 19 points. The expression on Bryant’s face heading into the locker room could serve as one of the scarier Halloween costumes. Of course, he still had 24 minutes…

60222972Third Quarter
7:18 Kobe started his reproach early, nailing his second 3-pointer of the quarter, from nearly the same spot, to cap a 14-8 start to the third from L.A. Burying 28-foot triples is one way to get going…

5:36 Bryant kept up his answer to that poor second quarter with a pretty spin move on the baseline to earn two free throws (just missing the layup), and Gasol was even more effective in making 4-of-5 field goals and two foul shots for 10 of his 20 points. That gave L.A.’s two All-Stars 18 of the team’s 20 points, and the team a 65-59 lead.

0:04.8 Farmar converted a pretty driving finger roll (goaltended by Durant) after splitting two defenders on a high pick and roll with Gasol, but promptly negated his own good work by fouling the driving Eric Maynor with under a second remaining to allow OKC to get within four, 73-69, into the fourth. Still, the Lakers were +6 in the period and back in control.

Fourth Quarter
9:06 With Bryant heading to the bench for a rest after he missed his fourth consecutive shot, Odom scored just his second field goal of the game on six attempts with a pretty driving layup through traffic to put L.A. up two on the team’s first bucket in three minutes.

4:15 After an offensive burst from back-in-form Kobe, who scored 11 points to climb to a game-high 33 (not that it was a surprise), Gasol stuck a tough driving layup, plus the foul, to put L.A. up 87-84. Bryant then got a wide-open look from three for Fisher, but his attempt rimmed out, 20 seconds before he was called for his fifth personal on a defensive rebound opportunity after Durant’s miss. The sum: 1-point game, instead of a 6-point game.

2:49 Artest followed up Fisher’s miss with a miss of his own from three, the two combining to hit just 2-of-11 triples on the evening. Fisher was then called for his sixth personal when Westbrook pulled up for a jumper, giving the Thunder a two-point lead with less than three to play … at least until two Bryant FT’s tied it with 2:20 to go.

0:15.1 An intense final stretch began with Bryant scoring four straight on a pull-up jumper to give the Lakers the lead for good, and two free throws. Then Durant, swarmed by multiple Lakers, turned the ball over on consecutive possessions, thanks mostly to Pau Gasol’s long arms. Brown added 1-of-2 free throws to put L.A. up five, but Westbrook hit two free throws, Green a driving layup and Bryant missed the front end of two more free throws (just his second miss in 15 attempts) to keep the lead at two points…

0:00.0 … OKC then ran Durant around a screen for a 3-point attempt at the lead, but he rimmed out, and Gasol cleared the board. The Spaniard, however, followed Kobe in missing the first of two free throws, making things just a bit tense in Los Angeles as the Thunder had a chance to tie with a three. The play went do Durant, but L.A. swarmed, so Durant found Green … whose attempt rimmed out.

With that, the Lakers survived with a 95-92 win to take a 2-0 lead in the series. A collective cheer/sigh rang out in STAPLES Center as the Purple and Gold left the floor; they’ll head to Oklahoma City on Wednesday afternoon.

Kobe finished with a game-high 39 points on 12-of-28 shooting (13-of-15 free throws) while Gasol pitched in a 25-point, 12-rebound double-double, L.A. needing all that offensive production since Artest (2-of-10), Fisher (2-of-10), Odom (2-of-9) and Bynum (3-of-9) all struggled.

For a summary and postgame numbers from the contest, CLICK HERE.