Thunder runs past Lakers in Game 5, advance to Western Conference final
Despite 42 points from Lakers star Kobe Bryant, Oklahoma City got big performances from both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant Monday night to reach the conference finals for the second year in a row.
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"I just tried to throw it to the rim and luckily it went in. That kind of sparked us, and everybody else kept it going from there," Westbrook said.Skip to next paragraph
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Westbrook converted another after banking in a jumper from the left side despite Sessions slapping him on the arm to make it 82-76 with 1:29 left in the third quarter.
Durant extended the lead with a 3-pointer in the opening minute of the fourth and then hit another 32 seconds later — just after Bryant had stepped to the scorer's table to check in after a brief rest.
Bryant described it as "tough, to say the least."
After blowing a fourth-quarter lead in Game 4, Bryant had called out forward Pau Gasol to be more aggressive — much as he had with Gasol and Bynum before the Lakers faced elimination in Game 7 of the first round against Denver.
Gasol then came through with a monster game — 23 points, 17 rebounds and six assists — and Steve Blake scored a playoff career-best 19 points to save the Lakers that time. Bryant didn't get nearly as much help against the Thunder.
Gasol took 14 shots, his most of the series, but made only five to finish with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Metta World Peace scored 11 and Bynum 10.
James Harden added 17 points as Oklahoma City's bench outscored L.A.'s 35-5. The Thunder also had a 30-6 edge in fast-break scoring. The Lakers were outrebounded 51-35 and had only three offensive rebounds, two from Gasol and none from Bynum.
"We're asking our bigs to do a lot, but I know for sure we could have gotten more scoring from those two guys in the offensive rebounding category ... and we could have gotten more from our bench," Lakers coach Mike Brown said.
Bryant had to create all of the offense early, scoring 15 of the Lakers' first 19 points and getting all six of his baskets without the benefit of an assist. When others started chipping in, the Lakers went on a 16-7 run to go up 35-32 following Bynum's three-point play.
Oklahoma City scored the next eight points, including Harden's fast-break dunk, before Bryant got past him for a pair of dunks of his own — the first a driving, two-handed reverse jam and the second a two-handed alley-oop slam over Harden.
But Bryant and World Peace both drew technical fouls as the Lakers lost their cool with 31.9 seconds left before halftime when World Peace was called for a flagrant foul against Thabo Sefolosha on a fast break. World Peace used his right hand to strip the ball from Sefolosha as he went up to the basket but then shoved him out of bounds with his left hand.
Sefolosha hit both free throws and Durant capitalized on both shots from the technicals World Peace and Bryant got for arguing the flagrant call to put the Thunder 54-51 ahead at halftime despite shooting less than 40 percent.
Notes: The Lakers had baskets just after the buzzer at the end of the second and third quarters that both got reviewed on instant replay. ... Westbrook got a technical foul for cursing at an official after a no-call midway through the first quarter. ... The Thunder's Nick Collison needed stitches to close a cut on the back of his head that he sustained during Game 4. ... Los Angeles is 10-3 when Bryant scores 40 points in the playoffs, losing both times he did it this season.