Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Monday evening Game 5 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
6:06 With their season on the line, facing a 3-1 deficit to a young, athletic, hungry group of Thunder, the Lakers took an 11-8 lead out of the first six minutes behind Bryant’s 4 of 5 field goals. A problem was developing, however, OKC grabbing nearly as many offensive rebounds as L.A. had total (five in the first six minutes), which would surely start to catch up to the Lakers with no shift.
4:01 An Ibaka dunk put the Thunder up 16-13, OKC starting to take advantage of all those O boards, and in the meantime, Bynum picked up his second foul and had to take an early seat. Gasol came out very aggressively at both ends, collecting three boards and blocking two shots, but rimmed out on three shots to fall to 1 for 6 in the period.
0:00 OKC’s lead was 26-21 almost entirely behind their hustle on the glass, a 20-10 double up producing six more field goal attempts. James Harden scored seven quick points off the bench, while the Lakers managed only one assist on their eight field goals, most coming from Bryant (6 of 9 for 15 points).
9:02 After Sessions struggled in the first quarter, missing all three of his shots and both free throw attempts, he was everywhere to start the second, blowing by Derek Fisher three times to produce six points (two of his own, a bucket each for Bynum and Gasol), then getting to the line in transition to tie the game at 32. When Bynum spun around Nazr Mohammad for a layup on the next possession, plus the foul, it capped a 14-6 run that had L.A. up 35-32.
5:24 A really tough call on Bynum was his third of the half, as he went straight up on a driving Harden but was hit with a very late whistle that sent OKC’s (and the NBA’s) sixth man to the line and Bynum to the bench. For L.A. to have to play five minutes without their best chance at slowing OKC’s offense was a difficult blow, particularly as Jordan Hill already had three fouls himself, with World Peace thus having to play power forward.
0:00 A bizarre sequence in the final minute of the second went against the Lakers. After L.A. took a 51-50 lead on a string of strong play from Gasol and World Peace, the Thunder got four straight free throws due to a flagrant 1 foul on World Peace. The play happened on a careless Sessions turnover, MWP getting back in transition and getting all ball as Sefolosha went in for a layup, though he made contact with his off hand. Yet flagrant 1 was the call (two free throws plus the ball) making the Lakers so irate that not only MWP but also Kobe were hit with technicals, four free throws thus resulting. OKC made all four, and despite missing the ensuing shot took a 54-51 lead into the half. That aside, L.A.’s O was terrific in the second, 30 points coming on 11 of 19 field goals.
7:12 The bad for LAL: Bynum picked up his fourth PF in the first minute. The good: the D was otherwise very solid, holding OKC to long jumpers, while two Gasol free throws, Kobe’s dunk and then Gasol’s tip in put L.A. up 63-62. Gasol had been excellent all game, reaching 14 points with 12 boards and two blocks/assists thus far.
5:27 L.A. continued a good start to the second half as Bryant dunked for the fourth time in the game to reach 30 points (11 already in the period) and Sessions hit two FT’s, giving the visitors their biggest lead at 70-66. OKC had taken 10 shots to that point, only two in the paint, while L.A. had scored five times at the rim.
0:53.9 Despite Bryant fighting his way up to the 34 point mark by hitting a three and 1 of 2 FT’s, LAL’s D stopped working when Bynum picked up that early 4th PF. Westbrook took the most advantage to score 12 of his 20, including 10 of the final 17 in a 17-7 run, putting OKC up 83-77 with L.A.’s playoff life on the line.
10:31 Before the Lakers could blink, OKC reeled off a supercharged 8-0 run in the first 1:30 of the fourth, capped by back-to-back Durant three-pointers, to blow the game open at 91-77. Bryant was on the bench to try and get a brief respite, just as he did in Game 4 when World Peace led the subs to push the lead to as many as 13 points. Still, the tweets started to fly in to criticize Mike Brown as soon as OKC hit those three shots for not having Kobe in. Tough call either way, as his legs had tired down the stretch throughout the series, thus making those two minutes quite important.
6:33 Bryant got five shots up in the four minutes after he checked in, making two, including his fifth dunk of the game to cut OKC’s lead to 97-84 going into a Scott Brooks time out. Quite a bit of making up to do, however, for a Lakers team now desperate for any way to keep its season alive. Bryant had 38 points, Gasol 14 with 14 rebounds, but that early foul trouble really plagued Bynum into his 10-point, 4-rebound night to that point.
2:41 The game’s final time out came after Bryant reached 40 points for the 13th time in his playoff career, but the game had been decided with that initial burst to start the fourth, OKC holding onto a double digit lead into the final minutes.
0:00 The final score: 106-90. For the second consecutive season, a team with championship level talent couldn’t find a way to get out of the Western Semi’s, the chemistry never fully clicking during a lockout shortened season with a new coaching staff and key new pieces for the Lakers both coming (Sessions, Hill) and going (Odom, Fisher). Thanks for following along all season through these running diaries. We’ll see you next fall for the first Lakers preseason contest.