Lakers 96, Thunder 101: Game 3 Running Diary

60241059Lakers – Thunder Gameday Page
The Lakers took a 2-0 advantage with two home victories before heading to Oklahoma City for the city’s first home NBA playoff game. We were there to make sure you didn’t miss a thing:

Lakers: Sasha Vujacic (ankle)
Thunder: Byron Mullins, Mustafa Shakur

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Thunder: Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Green, Krstic

Energy, Pressure or Both for OKC?
Among the more intriguing questions leading into OKC’s first home playoff game ever in the city was how that energy would affect the team. Would it simply serve as a boost? Or would it create a pressure cooker? We took a look: CLICK HERE.

60241429First Quarter
12:00 Before we type another letter, how about a big ol’ “Happy Birthday” to Jack Nicholson, the biggest of all the big Lakers fans.

9:33 The Lakers could not have possibly had a better start in what was a raucous, blue atmosphere (“Blue Out” w/t-shirts). They looked everything like the experienced champions by rolling out a 5-of-5 from the field opening to go up 10-0, causing three early turnovers on a nervous-looking Thunder group. We’d wondered if the Lakers could turn the energy in the building against the Thunder, and they did precisely that, at least to start.

5:37 Derek Fisher buried a triple, his second jumper of the quarter, to put the Lakers up 18-9 as L.A.’s solid play continued at both ends. OKC managed to get going a bit on offense, but was struggling mightily with L.A.’s offense. Each Lakers starter had scored, led by Andrew Bynum’s six points.

3:49 James Harden, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2009 Draft, scored his first points of the series with a corner three to pull OKC within six at 22-16, then added another triple and a layup. Harden hadn’t gotten many minutes in L.A., but the Thunder certainly needed more from him at home, where subs generally play better. The Lakers, meanwhile, would score just two more points in the quarter (2:34 mark, Shannon Brown jumper) as OKC cut the lead to just five at 27-22, a score not particularly reflective of the early Purple and Gold dominance.

Second Quarter
9:50 What happened to L.A.’s offense? Seven consecutive missed shots allowed OKC to creep within three points before Jordan Farmar finally finished a tough two-handed drop-in layup in traffic to make it 29-24.

6:49 The one guy who’d yet to get anything going offensively was Kobe Bryant, who missed his fourth straight shot despite getting a really good look in the paint. Gasol and Odom, however, scored buckets around his miss to keep L.A. up eight.

3:34 With the Thunder beginning to settle in, the crowd rising at every opportunity, Kobe kept shutting them down by burying three consecutive deep 3-pointers. Quick turnaround from No. 24.

0:36.4 The half’s final bucket came in transition from Westbrook, giving him 10 points on 10 shots, though L.A. had controlled the final few minutes to take a 50-43 lead into halftime. L.A. had won the second quarter for the first time in the series, having done most damage in first quarters (+21 in series). Lakers shot 45.5 percent, but attempted 19 threes, waaaaay above average. Kobe had 14, Fish 11, Bynum eight while Gasol and Odom struggled (combined 3-for-10).

60241431Third Quarter
10:00 The crowd was certainly less involved to start the third than they were the game (in part due to concessions, of course), but OKC actually looked a bit more calm in scoring four straight to start the half. Gasol did answer with a jumper to keep the lead at five, as L.A. certainly was hoping for a better second half than first for the Spaniard (on offense).

6:20 Consecutive solid plays from Bynum, first a defensive contest of Sefolosha’s drive and second a put-back of Kobe’s miss, put the Lakers back up by 10. Moments later, Gasol continued a great start to the quarter with a ridiculous floater that swished through the rim after reaching nearly the height of the shot clock.

0:53.6 Finally, the Thunder got things going … in a big way. First a huge Westbrook dunk on Odom, then back-to-back transition threes from Harden (18 points) and Durant (17 on 4-of-17 shooting with eight FT’s) to cap an 8-0 run that tied the game at 74. Gasol managed 1-of-2 FT’s to keep the Lakers in the lead heading into the final quarter, but a very quiet arena had suddenly turned the volume all the way back up.

Fourth Quarter
11:01 Odom just couldn’t get it going, getting called for an offensive foul in the middle of two Serge Ibaka baskets that finally gave OKC its first lead of the game before Bynum’s and-1 slam on Nick Collison in transition tied the game at 80.

5:10 Bryant improbably went cold at the wrong time, missing all but one of six attempts in the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter as the Thunder capitalized to go up by six when Westbrook and Durant hit back-to-back shots. The momentum had fully swung with that late third quarter run, and the Lakers hadn’t been able to seize it back.

2:43 Fisher’s 3-pointer (17 points for him) finally stopped the bleeding that had occurred as the Thunder continued to bury shots in taking an 8-point lead, finally quieting a going-completely-nuts crowd … but Westbrook answered with a three of his own, a surprise given he shot just 22 percent in the regular season. Artest then hit a deep two to cut the lead to 93-87.

1:03 Nearly as impressive as OKC’s run was L.A.’s response, as another Artest J and then Gasol’s two free throws cut the lead to two points. But with 58 seconds to go, Artest was called for a foul off the ball on Durant, who made both free throws.

0:12.8 And it was there at the free throw line where the Thunder would seal its improbable comeback victory. After Westbrook’s miss and Kobe’s made layup in transition, L.A. had to foul Durant, whose two free throws again put the Thunder up four. Farmar and Artest missed three pointers, and Green made 1-of-2 FT’s with 1.5 seconds to go to make it a 101-96 final.

Kobe Bryant made just 1-of-10 shots in the fourth after going for 20 points on 8-of-19 through three quarters with five assists, and the Lakers just couldn’t hold off an uber-aggressive push from the Thunder down the stretch.

The series then stood at 2-1 Lakers with Game 4 coming on Saturday.