Oklahoma City wins series 4-1
|Game 1: Monday, May 14th|
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|Game 2: Wednesday, May 16th|
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|Game 3: Friday, May 18th|
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|Game 4: Saturday, May 19th|
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|Game 5: Monday, May 21st|
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10:30 PM ET, May 19, 2012
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
Kevin Durant's late 3 breaks tie, gives Thunder 3-1 lead over Lakers
LOS ANGELES -- Kevin Durant stood above the 3-point line and watched the shot clock dwindle in the final seconds of Game 4. When Metta World Peace backed up slightly on defense, Durant hesitated only an instant before launching a 26-footer.
"It left my hand, (and) I was thinking, 'If this doesn't go in, it's going to be a terrible shot,'" Durant said.
The three-time scoring champ trusts his instincts and his silky-smooth jumper. Neither let him down while he and Russell Westbrook engineered yet another late comeback that pushed a frustrated Kobe Bryant to the brink.
Westbrook scored 10 of his 37 points during a stirring fourth-quarter rally, Durant added 31 points and hit that tiebreaking 3-pointer with 13.7 seconds left, and the Thunder seized control of their second-round series with a 103-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.
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Serge Ibaka scored 14 points and the second-seeded Thunder took a 3-1 series lead with a rally from a 13-point deficit in the final 8 minutes, moving one win away from their second straight trip to the Western Conference finals.
"Everybody kept fighting," Westbrook said. "We all believed in each other. It's the playoffs. You can't afford to sit back and wonder about it."
Game 5 is Monday night in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City improved to 7-1 in the postseason with a tenacious rally on the second night of back-to-back games against the Lakers and Bryant, who scored 38 points but struggled in the fourth quarter of Los Angeles' fifth loss in seven games. After Durant put the Thunder ahead with his shot-clock-draining 3-pointer, Kobe couldn't match it with 10 seconds left.
With a surge that seemed inevitable to the Lakers' worried crowd, Durant and Westbrook led the Thunder back with teamwork throughout a 32-point fourth quarter. Bryant was left lamenting the help he didn't get -- particularly from four-time All-Star Pau Gasol, who made the unforced turnover that led to Durant's decisive 3.
"Pau has got to be more aggressive," Bryant said of Gasol, who managed just 10 points and five rebounds while committing three turnovers. "He's got to be aggressive, got to shoot the ball, drive to the basket, and he will next game. ... (The turnover was) just a bad read on Pau's part. It happens."
The Thunder finished Game 4 on a 22-8 run, punctuated by Durant's dramatic 3-pointer and two late free throws from James Harden, who had 12 points. After sweeping Dallas in the first round, the Thunder are one win away from sending home the NBA's last two champions -- and in perhaps the greatest measure of the Thunder's growth over the two years since the Lakers ushered them out of the first round on the way to their second straight title, nobody seems surprised.
"We know no game is over," Durant said. "We've witnessed that before. We play hard every possession and live with the results, and we came out on top."
Andrew Bynum had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who led 92-81 with 7:45 to play before Westbrook went to work with a furious series of drives to the hoop. The UCLA product scored nine points in just over 2 minutes, and Kendrick Perkins capped the 17-4 run on a putback layup with 1:16 left, putting Oklahoma City up 98-96 with its first lead since the first quarter.
After Bryant evened it with two free throws, Westbrook and Gasol then traded turnovers, with Durant swiping Gasol's careless pass before burying a straightaway 3-pointer that silenced Staples Center. The Thunder made 10 of their 15 shots in the final period.
"I wish I could sit up here and say how that happened," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "It just happened."
World Peace had 14 points in the second game of the Lakers' first back-to-back playoff games in 13 years. A night after the Lakers got back in the series with a late comeback for a 99-96 victory in Game 3, Los Angeles led for most of the night, but couldn't execute on offense late, struggling for even difficult shots.
"We can talk about us offensively, because we had some struggles," Lakers coach Mike Brown said. "But it comes down to those guys scoring 32 points in the fourth quarter, and I thought they did that very easily. That's the most disappointing thing."
The game was the third NBA playoff contest in 27 hours at Staples Center, which will host six playoff games in hockey and basketball over a four-day stretch this weekend. With the Los Angeles Kings' ice just below the Lakers' court, several players appeared to slip and slide on the floor during the game, and Westbrook nearly did the splits at the halftime buzzer when his right foot slipped.
"I was a little stiff, but we needed this win," Westbrook said.
Oklahoma City appeared to be unhappy with the floor's condition, but Staples Center did nothing different in its changeover, and the referees deemed the floor safe for play. The San Antonio Spurs, on course to meet the Thunder in the conference finals, didn't appear worried about the floor during their win over the Clippers.
Bryant shot poorly in the first three games of the series, but went 10 for 18 in the first three quarters of Game 4 before managing only a 2-of-10 effort in the fourth, including a meaningless bucket at the buzzer.
"We're all upset and extremely frustrated, (but) I don't think anybody is worried about going into Oklahoma City and getting a win," Bryant said. "We don't think about winning three in a row."
After Oklahoma City defended its home court with a blowout win in the opener and a comeback from a seven-point deficit in the final 2 minutes of Game 2, the Lakers finally answered Friday night with their own late rally. Los Angeles took control of Game 4 early on while the Thunder struggled with their shots and their footing.
Westbrook slipped near midcourt at the halftime buzzer, his right foot sliding forward when he attempted to stop. He stayed down on the court for an uncomfortably long moment before walking gingerly to the locker room with his hand on his left hip, but got treatment at halftime and returned for the third quarter.
The game was Chapter 4 in the four-day extravaganza at Staples Center. The Kings play Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against Phoenix on Sunday afternoon, followed by the Clippers' fourth game against San Antonio -- all while tens of thousands of fans gather outside to watch the Tour of California, the nation's largest cycling race, which finishes on the street outside shortly before the Kings' opening faceoff.
Game notesThe Lakers hadn't played back-to-back postseason games since the second round in 1999, another season shortened by labor strife. ... Westbrook and Perkins were called for technical fouls for angry reactions to contact with the Lakers' point guards. ... Denzel Washington, Allyson Felix and Michelle Kwan attended the game.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||38-77 (.494)||37-86 (.430)|
|3PM-3PA||6-16 (.375)||5-18 (.278)|
|FTM-FTA||21-25 (.840)||21-29 (.724)|
|Fast Break Points||14||15|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||23 (2/0)||19 (0/0)|
Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol disappeared in the 4th quarter of Game 4. Through the first 3 quarters, the two combined to total 26 points on 12-23 from the field. But in the 4th quarter, Bynum and Gasol combined to score 2 points on 2 field goal attempts and registered just 1 rebound.[+]
Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol combined to score just 2 points on 1-2 shooting in the 4th quarter of Game 4. Their 2 field goal attempts accounted for just 9.1 percent of the Lakers shots. Kobe Bryant, meanwhile, hit just 2 of 10 shots in the 4th quarter while accounting for 45.5 percent of the team's attempts.[+]
4th Quarter of Game 4
Kevin Durant is now 10-23 in game-tying or go-ahead field goals in the last 24 seconds of the 4th quarter/OT this season (including the playoffs). Durant's 10 field goals lead the NBA - Derrick Rose and Chris Paul rank tied for second with 5 such makes. Note that the league average this season (including playoffs) is 27.8 percent in those situations.[+]
From Elias: Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant became just the fourth pair of teammates to each score 30+ points in a road playoff win against the Lakers and the first to accomplish the feat since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in the 1991 NBA Finals. Pippen totaled 32 points and Jordan added 30 in the Bulls 108-101 win.[+]
30+ Points By Pair of Teammates - Road Playoff Win vs Lakers
Russell Westbrook scored 31 of his 37 points on isolation plays and pick-and-rolls in Game 4. Westbrook's 14 points on isolations plays were a postseason-career high. His 17 points on pick-and-roll plays were his second most in a postseason game. Westbrook had 19 points last postseason in a triple-overtime game against Memphis.[+]
Russell Westbrook by Play Type
The Lakers shot 2-10 in "crunch time" - the last five minutes of the fourth quarter/overtime with the score within five points - during Game 4. Opponents are shooting 24.5 percent (12-49) against the Thunder in crunch time this postseason, the lowest in the NBA (min. 1 FGA). The Spurs have not had an opponent attempt a "crunch time" shot this postseason.
On potential game-tying and go-ahead shots in the final 24 seconds, Durant is now 10-23 (43.5 pct) this season, including his make in Game 4. On those same shots, Kobe Bryant is 3-18 (16.7 pct) this season. Durant now has three such shots this postseason, tied for the most in the last 15 playoffs (Ben Gordon & Ray Allen, 2009).[+]
Kobe Bryant shot 2-8 in the final six minutes of Game 4. For the series, Bryant is 3-17, and the Lakers have been outscored by 14 points with him on the court during the final six minutes, including by 12 in Game 4. Kobe has taken 10 free throws during the final six minutes with eight coming in Game 3. In Game 3, the average distance of his field goal attempts in the final six minutes was under 8 feet, while it was 18+ feet in both Games 2 and 4.[+]
Kobe Bryant in Final 6 Minutes
NEXT LEVEL: Game 4 at the Staples Center was a perfect microcosm for Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant this season.... On potential game-tying and go-ahead shots in the final 24 seconds, Durant is now 10-23 on such shots this season, including his make in Game 4. On those same shots, Kobe Bryant is just 3-18 this season....[+]
Game-tying and Go-Ahead FG - Final 24 Sec of 4th Quarter/OT
ESPN Stats & Information