Lakers 95, Thunder 94: Game 6 Running Diary

60316669Lakers – Thunder Gameday Page
The Lakers looked to close out Oklahoma City in Game 6 of their First Round series after taking a 3-2 lead thanks to a Game 5 romp. 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

Game 6 Video Preview
Heading into Friday night’s potential series’ closing Game 6 at Oklahoma City’s Ford Center, Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons was feeling good about the team’s mindset.

“I think our guys finally got it,” said Clem. “I think they saw through the film study what they need to do when we talk about them executing. I think they were also so focused and came with a sense of urgency on Tuesday night that helped.” CLICK HERE for more.

60316665First Quarter
9:50 After three missed jumpers to start the game, the Lakers got a hanging bucket from Kobe Bryant and drop-in lay-up from Andrew Bynum, settling down a bit on offense amidst a going-absolutely-wild-on-every-shot crowd. It was loud enough to begin with before the fans were given Thunder sticks. So, yeah. Not quiet.

6:50 When the Lakers have had success in this series, they’ve erased OKC’s transition opportunities by crashing back hard on defense, and forcing the Thunder to try and execute in the half court. That recipe worked well, once again, early on as the Thunder went just 1-for-10 and failed to run out on L.A.’s misses. Meanwhile, Derek Fisher’s first 3-point attempt and two Kobe FT’s made it 13-4 L.A.

1:04 The Thunder finally began to figure out how to score in the half court, getting four consecutive hoops to take their first lead at 24-23. Bryant would counter quickly with an and-1 to put L.A. back up two, but Krstic’s and-1 closed the scoring at 27-26 for the Thunder after one. The crowd had provided quite a boost, standing for nearly the entire quarter and almost refusing to let the Thunder get down regardless of the situation.

Second Quarter
9:28 It wasn’t Kevin Durant who was hurting L.A. early. Or Jeff Green. Or James Harden off the bench … but Nenad Krstic, whose two free throws pushed his early point total to 11. Shannon Brown, meanwhile, gave some unexpected offense to the Lakers, nailing all three of his jumpers in the quarter’s first three minutes to get to seven points in putting L.A. up 35-34.

6:38 Durant started the game by missing all seven of his first shots, but a mistake by the Lakers – allowing a long rebound to go all the way out to a wide-open Durant at the top of the key – saw KD stroke a triple that countered Jordan Farmar’s at the other end, keeping L.A.’s lead at one.

3:30 Consecutive beautiful passes allowed the Lakers to go up 47-41 after Gasol found a cutting Odom for a layup, and then Bryant a cutting Spaniard for a two-handed flush. Odom’s hoop pushed L.A.’s bench total to 17 points, key against OKC’s seven.

0:04.5 Bryant hit his fifth shot (a twisting J in traffic) in 13 attempts to give the Lakers a 53-47 cushion into the half, overcoming OKC’s advantage at the foul line (17 makes to eight from L.A.) thanks in part to crisp ball movement (13 assists on 20 field goals). Overall, the Lakers had controlled the tempo quite well.

60316643Third Quarter
7:38 It was the Thunder who got the better of the early play in the third, eventually tying the game at 61 when Thabo Sefolosha got out in transition to dunk the ball a possession after Green’s driving dunk. There went the 6-point lead, in a hurry.

5:31 With the crowd continuing to stand and yell as if the final stretch of the Kentucky Derby were neck-and-neck (seriously, it was wild), L.A. turned to Kobe for offense, and No. 24 answered the call by making 4-of-5 shots, the fifth of which put L.A. up 65-63, and got him to a game-high 24 points.

2:40 An interesting, to quite interesting end of the third quarter featured these three events: A) Kobe, in Black Mamba mode, nailed three straight 3-pointers in the period and 6-of-8 shots to score 16 of his 30; B) Kobe picked up his third and fourth fouls while guarding Westbrook on the perimeter, one very questionable and the other obvious, forcing him to the bench; C) The Thunder used two Brown turnovers (in for Kobe) to score easy buckets at the other end, then got two more Durant free throws (his 11th and 12th) to tie the game before Fisher’s three-pointer ended the period with L.A. up 76-73. Twelve more minutes to play…

Fourth Quarter
11:20 Brown almost immediately atoned for those two turnovers by nailing an end-of-clock 3-pointer to push L.A.’s lead right back to six. That gave the Lakers 25 bench points, to 14 for OKC. We’d also learned that Bynum suffered a hyperextended right knee in the first half, but he was out there playing through it.

6:21 Led by Luke Walton, who contributed in a big way with a triple and a baseline turnaround (his favorite shot), the Lakers managed pushed the lead back up to seven after the Thunder had tied it up, with Kobe and Gasol resting on the bench. Westbrook did manage a three, his first in four attempts (a lot considering he shot 22 percent in the regular season), to make it 86-82 L.A. Surely the Lakers would look to Kobe to shut the door…

5:00 Next to step up for L.A. was Artest, who first nailed an open three thanks to Fisher’s kick-out pass, then hit a contested corner jumper after up-faking Green with just a second left on the shot clock to push the lead back to seven.

2:41 Ready for a complete, total turnaround from that last sentence? Here goes: OKC reeled off an 8-0 run, sparked by consecutive Lakers turnovers and Bryant’s fadeaway miss, to take an improbable 92-91 lead.

0:00.5 “With 0.5 seconds left, the Spaniard may have just put the Lakers into the 2nd round.” – Spero Dedes. L.A.’s radio play-by-play man on the call after Gasol collected his 18th rebound of the night in an incredible sequence, grabbing Kobe’s near miss on a baseline fadeaway and putting it back off glass. Wow. OKC did have a chance for a desperation heave, but Sefolosha came up short, and the Purple and Gold was in the Second Round.

The Thunder accounted incredibly well for themselves in pushing L.A. literally to the final buzzer in Game 6, but the bottom line was that the Lakers advance to meet the winner of the Utah – Denver series.

More coming soon.