Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Saturday evening 2nd Round playoff Game 4 vs. Oklahoma City, the Lakers looking to build upon a Game 3 victory, 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
7:00 Despite an intense, emotional Game 3 that came down to the final minutes just 24 hours earlier on this rare playoff back-to-back, neither team showed signs of fatigue in the opening minutes, as they combined to make 12 of 17 shots in a 14-all tie, including 3 of 3 from Bynum, already one more shot than he made in Game 3 (2 of 13).
2:59 The first triple of the game came courtesy of Metta World Peace, whose top-of-the-key launch put LAL up 21-18 into the first Thunder time out. All five Lakers had scored, combining to shoot 64.3 percent from the field, led by six apiece from All-Stars Bynum and Bryant. Westbrook paced OKC with eight.
0:00 Bynum finished 4 of 4 from the field after another make, for 10 points plus three assists and three boards, leading L.A. to a 29-24 lead after one. Brown called him the star of the game in LAL’s Game 3 victory despite his shooting struggles, so it was a big positive to see Bynum continue to play defense as effectively while also converting at the other end.
9:35 Officially dominating the game: Bynum. He followed up a swat of Mohammad, his second, by sprinting full court, collecting a pass at the FT line, taking one step and dunking home his seventh field goal in eight attempts. That gave him 14 points, with three boards, three assists (one short of Sessions’ four) and the two blocks. In related news, LAL led 36-26.
4:46 After draining all 18 of his foul attempts to set a Lakers franchise playoff record, Bryant finally missed one after hitting his first five, and though he got his own rebound, Ibaka blocked him at the rim to lead to Durant’s fast break dunk, cutting LAL’s lead to eight at 47-39.
0:00 It was quite fun to watch the final minute or so at STAPLES, thanks to Kobe Bryant, breaking out three consecutive hard drives to the rim, scoring through contact on the first and third while getting blocked by Perkins on the second. The third drive came with 2.6 seconds left, and came plus the foul on Perk (his third), and kept the Lakers up 10 at the half. Sessions was excellent in the half, scoring eight points with four assists, and sparking LAL’s 13-8 edge in fastbreak points, certainly unexpected against the youthful OKC legs.
8:00 The teams spent the first four minutes of the third exchanging hoops, both scoring eight points as L.A. maintained its 10-point lead. At some point, L.A. would have to expect OKC to make a run with those young, athletic legs, but they continued to control tempo as they had throughout the first half.
5:56 Kobe continued to punish Sefolosha as OKC failed to bring a help defender, going three for four from the field, and making five trips to the line (including a technical) to score 10 points in the first half of the period, keeping the Lakers up 12.
1:50 Yet another Kobe conversion in the paint preceded two free throw misses from Bynum (who was 10 of 11 in Game 3, but may have been tiring a bit) and 1 of 2 from World Peace, the lead thus staying at 10 instead of 13. LAL went 41 of 42 in Game 3, but was 16 of 22 in this one. Bryant then missed one of his foul shots, but he made up for it with a buzzer-beating J over Westbrook, giving him 31 points (the 87th of his playoff career, trailing only Michael Jordan’s 109) and the Lakers an 80-71 lead despite 27 from Westbrook and 20 from Durant, OKC hanging around.
8:40 With Kobe getting some much deserved rest after carrying LAL through the third, World Peace stepped up in a major way, draining two triples, hitting 1 of 2 free throws (team at just 69 percent) and finding Bynum for an easy lay in, accounting for all nine Lakers points. Then for good measure, he tied up Ibaka with five seconds left on the shot clock, resulting in LAL winning the jump ball, holding onto an 11-point lead.
2:27 Suddenly, the Lakers offense had stalled completely, and Westbrook/Durant took full advantage to trim the lead to only two despite two missed FT’s from Durant. Moments later, they’d actually take their first lead since the first quarter when Perkins tipped in Westbrook’s miss with 1:16 to go, though Kobe’s two free throws tied it back up at 98 on the ensuing possession with 1:04 to play.
0:00 For the second devastating time in three games, the Lakers blew a lead in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, this time a 9-point edge with just under six minutes to play. The final blow in a 16-6 run to end the game came from Durant, who rose to break a 100-all tie with a top-of-the-key triple. Bryant missed the ensuing three-pointer on the other end that would have tied the game with 8.9 seconds to go, but L.A. would regret a few opportunities they passed up. The most glaring would come from Gasol, who instead of rising to take a 15-foot jumper, tried to make a cross court that Durant intercepted, before hitting the three with 13.7 left on the other end. OKC never let up for a second despite trailing by double digits for nearly the entire second half, and coldly made its final run behind Westbrook (37 points) and Durant (31), thus tearing victory away from L.A.’s hands to take a commanding 3-1 series lead heading back to Oklahoma City for Monday’s Game 5. We’ll see you there.