Missed free throw in the entire night for the Lakers, who sank 41 of 42, highlighted by Kobe Bryant’s 18 for 18 and Andrew Bynum’s 11 for 12. Bryant hit six of his 18 in the final 1:09, including two with 9.8 seconds left to force OKC into a game-tying three-point attempt that Kevin Durant missed.
Said Mike Brown: “Every possession is huge in a series against a very good team like the Thunder, and that means when you go to the line you have to knock them down,” said Mike Brown. “For us to step up to the line and have the concentration and focus that we had, especially at a clip of 41 of 42, is huge.”
Assists for Pau Gasol to match Bryant for the team lead, as OKC committed a lot of attention to the 7-foot Spaniard. He added 11 rebounds, two blocks and a steal to his 12 points on only eight field goal attempts, saying after the game that he again just tries to find ways to help his team win regardless of what the defense does.
Season-high rebounds for Steve Blake in his 28 minutes, including a huge offensive board with 45 seconds left that got Kobe an extra look, which he used to draw a foul on Russell Westbrook and hit two key free throws to put L.A. up one in the final minute. Blake added 12 points, hitting two huge shots to tie the game with 5:57 left, the second a triple, erasing a 5-point OKC lead. Brown cited Blake’s constant “multiple effort” and toughness.
Field goal misses for Andrew Bynum on 13 attempts, such a rare poor shooting night for one of the league’s most efficient players. That’s what made his night all the more impressive to Mike Brown*, who had this to say: “‘Drew was an absolute monster. I cannot take my hat off to anybody more than Bynum.” Bynum was extremely active on pick and rolls, repeatedly closing out to discourage open looks on pick and roll sets, and grabbed 11 rebounds plus three blocks. Despite recording the only Lakers missed free throw, he still hit 11 of 12.
*Brown actually pulled Bynum aside early in the fourth quarter during a time out, telling him to just keep doing what he was doing, playing hard every play despite the misses, and Bynum certainly did.
Lakers turnovers, which nearly proved fatal, as Westbrook’s strip of Bryant and dunk on the other end with 2:54 left produced a 92-87 OKC lead. LAL needed a 6-0 run to reclaim the edge, at the 1:09 mark, on two Kobe free throws.
Points for Bryant, a game-high, half of them coming at the foul line. It was the 86th time in his career that Kobe has hit at least the 30-point mark in a playoff game, second only to Michael Jordan’s 109. In a humorous postgame presser, Bryant said: 1) “Put your big boy pants on, leave your diaper at home” in response to a question about having to play a back-to-back; 2) “Come on, he’s like 5-2″ on hitting two jumpers in the fourth over Derek Fisher; and 3) “Pau was (being) politically correct. I’ll give you the real s&*#.”
Lakers shooting percentage in the game, thanks to a poor second half performance from the field. “Tonight was a great defensive effort,” explained Westbrook. It was certainly a physical contest, OKC’s bigs pushing Bynum off his spots,
L.A.’s free throw percentage, the second best in NBA playoff history with a minimum of 30 attempts, trailing only a 49 of 50 by Dallas at San Antonio on May 19, 2003.