Known for scoring, Thunder turns up defense to edge Lakers in Game 2
Oklahoma City trailed Los Angeles by seven late in Game 2 of their NBA Western Conference semifinal series. But a 9-0 scoring run to close out the game gave the Thunder a 2-0 series lead.
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"What they did the last few minutes there, they just made gambles," Bryant said. "They just jumped in the passing lanes. It's something that we're not accustomed to seeing. It's just flat-out risks defensively."Skip to next paragraph
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Harden made the next stop, blocking Bryant's jumper on the Lakers' next possession and getting a layup in transition off it to cut the deficit to one in the final minute.
Bryant then missed on a 3-pointer and the Thunder got the ball back with the chance to take the lead and Durant was able to make it happen on the offensive end.
"I think Kevin has improved on being a two-way player," Brooks said. "I think the last three years it's taken our team to a different level and it takes his game to a different level."
Bryant, who was the primary option on the play, said Blake's shot was in the air by the time he turned around to look for an inbounds pass.
"Blake was wide open. We didn't have any timeouts left and he got a clean look, a really good look," World Peace said. "He can knock that down."
Durant was then fouled with 0.3 seconds left and made his first try before missing the second on purpose — failing to hit the backboard or rim for a violation.
The Lakers got a desperation try, but Harden intercepted World Peace's long pass for Bynum.
Westbrook added 15 points for Oklahoma City, which matched its lowest scoring total of the season but still gutted out the win. The Thunder had ripped apart the Lakers' defense with their pick-and-roll attack in Game 1, scoring 119 points in a 29-point blowout.
Pau Gasol had 14 points and 11 rebounds for L.A.
Historically, the loss makes a huge difference. Los Angeles is 29-12 when splitting the first two games of a seven-game series and has lost 17 of 19 when falling into a 2-0 hole. The Lakers' last comeback was in the 2004 West semifinals against San Antonio.
The Thunder have won all nine of their series after leading 2-0, dating to the franchise's days in Seattle.
"We've got to win," Bynum said. "It's do or die come Friday."
Bryant almost led the Lakers to a big bounce-back victory in this one.
He drilled a jumper from the left wing and Blake followed with a 3-pointer before World Peace hit one of two free throws for a 69-63 advantage with 7:27 remaining. Bryant then answered Serge Ibaka's jumper before missing his final five shots.
He also had a hand in two turnovers in the final 2 minutes, the first created by Durant's defense.
"He used his length on Kobe. Coming up with that steal was huge," Lakers' coach Mike Brown said. "That's what great players are supposed to do. They're supposed to take on the challenge at the end of the game and he did.
"He won the game for them, basically."
Notes: The NBA fined Devin Ebanks $25,000 on Wednesday for actions related to his Game 1 ejection and Bynum $15,000 for failing to speak to reporters Tuesday. Bynum talked at the Lakers' morning shootaround Wednesday and called it a make up for skipping the previous day. ... Harden caught World Peace with an inadvertent elbow to the face in the first quarter. ... After making 10 of 15 shots in Game 1, Westbrook was 5 for 17.