The Lakers didn’t lose consecutive games during their 2009 playoff run even once, counting on both their talent and adjustments to earn road victories in Utah, Houston, Denver and Orlando en route to the championship.
But in Oklahoma City, in 2010, the Lakers followed up a tough 101-96 come-from-behind loss to the Thunder on Thursday by getting blown out of the state on Saturday in a 110-89 result during which OKC seemed to be sprinting down hill from start to finish.
“That was about as good as we could play a game of basketball at both ends of the floor,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
The only good news for the Lakers: since they won the first two games of the series, they retain home court advantage and now head back to STAPLES Center for Game 5. That circumstance, in fact, happened twice in 2009, as both Houston and Denver took 2-of-4 games before the Lakers held court in Game 5.
At the heart of L.A.’s loss was yet another huge discrepancy at the free throw line, the Thunder making 42-of-48 while the Lakers managed just 17-of-28. The home team also controlled the glass, 50-43, and crushed L.A. in transition, 24-2 despite the visitors’ pregame focus on containing just that.
“There’s not much to say about this game,” said Phil Jackson. “They took it to us. Even their free throw defense was good tonight.”
Kobe Bryant, who didn’t play in the fourth quarter, took just 10 shots to score 12 points, while Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol scored 13 points apiece to lead the team. Lamar Odom was active offensively off the bench, scoring 12 points on 6-of-12 shooting, but Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar combined to make just 3-of-15 shots.
Five Thunder players scored in double figures, with Kevin Durant getting 22, Russell Westbrook 18 with six assists and James Harden 15 off the bench.
Game 5 is set for Tuesday in L.A., but until then, your numbers:
10 Field goal attempts from Kobe Bryant, who took 29 in Game 3. Bryant spent the first half drawing defenders and finding wide open Lakers, and did not play in the fourth quarter.
13 Points for Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, which lead the Lakers, a new low for the team’s high scorer.
20 Free throw discrepancy for Oklahoma City, who made 42-of-48 while the Lakers made just 17-of-28. The previous night, the Thunder attempted 34 free throws to 12 for the Lakers.
24 Fastbreak points for OKC, to just two for the Lakers.
43 Bench points for the Thunder, led by 15 from rookie James Harden, who followed up his 18-point performance in Game 3 after scoring not a single point in limited minutes in L.A.