Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday evening Game 2 2nd Round playoff game at Oklahoma City, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Sessions, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
OKC: R. Westbrook, T. Sefolosha, K. Durant, S. Ibaka, K. Perkins
7:35 L.A.’s defensive game plan — get the ball out of Westbrook’s hands and make Ibaka, Perkins and Sefolosha hit shots — worked pretty well to start, until Westbrook beat a trap to get two free throws, Sefolosha hit a three and Durant scored on a pull-up in transition to make it 10-6. L.A.’s offense wasn’t all that sharp, however, with Ibaka blocking two shots, only 3 of 11 going down (Kobe 1 for 4).
2:05 Another solid job of executing a high trap on screen/roll action forced the fourth OKC turnover (they had four all Game 1), and allowed Bynum to tie the game, then put LAL up two on the next trip, his offensive board resulting in two free throws (20-18).
0:00 Having trailed by seven after the first quarter on Monday, a 22-21 lead was a good sign for L.A. in this one, particularly because they appeared much more plugged in from a mental standpoint. Bynum’s 10 points led the way, while Kobe added six despite a miss in the final seconds that dropped him to 2 of 7.
10:00 The Lakers were literally called for five personal fouls in the first two minutes of the second quarter, maybe faster than I’ve ever seen a team get into the bonus. Barnes committed three of them, all on James Harden, who followed by drawing two on Jordan Hill while trying to get to the rim. Harden is especially good at drawing contact, but L.A. was obliging by reaching in, and as a result, OKC opened a 29-24 lead. This had to be frustrating for the Lakers, who were controlling the tempo just fine before digging themselves a hole with the barrage of fouls.
5:10 After falling behind by seven due mostly to that early foul trouble, the Lakers went on a 9-2 run capped by World Peace’s fading three-pointer over Durant (the first make in six three-point attempts) to tie the game at 33, and Bryant answered an Ibaka jumper on the next two trips. This continued to be a much better all-around effort from L.A., who came to play after that tough Game 1.
0:00 Consecutive hoops by Gasol and Bynum gave the Lakers a temporary lead, but a bad shot from World Peace and Bryant’s turnover resulted in easy Thunder points at the other end, enough to take a 48-45 lead into the second half. Nonetheless, LAL had much improved from a Game 1 that found them down 15 at the break, thanks mostly to smarter defense and more energy.
5:48 The second Sefolosha three (a shot LAL will have to live with at times while helping on Durant), but Bryant and Bynum responded with consecutive makes to put the road team up 57-53. Meanwhile, Bynum’s pick and roll defense had been really good, forcing Westbrook to take some really tough shots that he wasn’t hitting (5 for 15).
0:00 What a defensive quarter for Mike Brown, his assistants that helped design the game plan and his Lakers, who held the Thunder to only 12 points on 4 of 15 shooting two nights after OKC scored 39 points in the third period to take a 30-point lead into the fourth quarter.
9:00 The two teams tried to see who could take worse shots in the first three minutes of the fourth, until Harden’s three tied us up at 63, the first make in nine total shots (LAL 0 for 5). That had LAL calling time out, with Bryant and Bynum returning for the final nine minutes, looking to steal a road win to tie the series before heading back to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4.
4:55 With every possession now so critical, LAL could ill afford Bynum’s dropped in hook to come out after Durant’s three on the other end chopped their lead in half to 71-68. Blake had nailed a triple and Kobe two tough perimeter jumpers to push the lead to as many as six, but the Thunder continued to hang around.
2:08 Bynum quickly atoned by scoring the next two buckets, the first a lay in off Gasol’s pretty feed and then a baseline hook that gave the Lakers their biggest lead, at 75-68, the first bit of separation all night. OKC had two minutes to try and find something, when they’d made only 7 of 27 second half shots (26%), L.A. seemingly in control.
0:18.0 And boy, did the Thunder find something quickly, much to L.A.’s shock. The Thunder scored eight consecutive points, Harden twice getting to the rim for buckets and Durant hitting a go ahead baseline leaner with 18 seconds left to suddenly put them up one. LAL had turned the ball over twice, and seen Kobe miss consecutive jumpers, Harden getting a piece of the first one. After controlling the whole second half by taking care of the ball, controlling tempo and hitting key shots, the Lakers did the opposite in crunch time. However, they had one final possession to re-claim the game, with 18 seconds on the clock, but the time was trimmed to 5.7 seconds when Sefolosha took OKC’s foul to give, Bryant trying to create space after running some time off.
0:03.9 What a gut punch. “The Lakers lost” didn’t seem to be something anyone would be writing. L.A. ran a nice play to get Blake a wide open three from the corner opposite OKC’s bench, but his shot rimmed out. L.A. didn’t foul Durant until 0.3 seconds remained, and though a lane violation on the second attempt allowed a full court heave from World Peace – in front of LAL’s bench – trying to find Bynum at the rim to tie, the pass went awry. The shocking result: a 2-0 Thunder series lead, when a split and claiming of home court advantage was so well within reach, the Lakers blowing a fantastic chance they’d given themselves of taking control of the series. That, and they have to play a home back-to-back on Friday and Saturday, trying to find a way to bounce back mentally from a crushing defeat.